The ones worth trying—and the ones to skip

You’ve probably seen lots of new snacks that are being touted as “healthful.” Is this just a marketing ploy—or are there some snack products that really do make nutrition a priority?

To get the real story, Bottom Line/Health spoke with nutrition expert David Grotto, RD, LDN, to get his take on five new snacks—and their marketing claims…

THE GOOD BEAN ROASTED CHICKPEAS

P 15 ChickpeasThe claim: “One serving offers as much fiber as two cups of broccoli.”

Take it or leave it? These are worth a try. According to the label, each one-ounce serving of this snack contains 5 g of fiber. (Yes, that’s the amount found in two cups of raw broccoli.) This is a good sign—particularly for people watching their weight—because fiber prevents hunger pangs. Chickpeas are also rich in folate, which has powerful anti-cancer properties, especially against colorectal cancer.

Enjoy this tasty snack plain or sprinkle it on salads or soups. A one-ounce serving contains 120 calories. Available at Whole Foods Market and TheGoodBean.com. Typical cost: About $2.40.

HERSHEY’S DAGOBA ORGANIC CHOCOLATE NEW MOON (74% CACAO)

P 15 NewMoonChocolateThe claim: Hershey’s makes no specific claims for this product, but dark chocolate has been extolled for its many health benefits, such as reduced heart disease risk.

Take it or leave it? This is worth a try. Unlike many other dark chocolate bars, the Dagoba is processed so that it retains high levels of antioxidant-rich flavanols.

Dagoba, with 74% cacao and a rich, smooth flavor, has 200 calories per serving (1.5 ounces) and 10 g of sugar, which is relatively low for dark chocolate. Available at most supermarkets. Typical cost: $3.45.

ProBar PROTEIN MEAL BAR

The claim: “…the right nutrient-dense calories for lasting energy and nourishment.”

Take it or leave it? Skip it. The ProBar is not really very nutritious. Most bars have at least 19 g of brown rice syrup, which has no more nutritional value than regular white sugar. There’s also about 360 calories in each bar, which is fine for a meal replacement but a lot for a snack. And one bar has about 8 g of protein—not enough for a meal.

POPCHIPS

The claim: “You’re allowed to eat the whole bag.”

Take it or leave it? Take a pass. There is nothing inherently unhealthy about this product, but you won’t derive any sort of nutritional boost. And if you tend to overindulge on chiplike snacks, watch out—a full bag of Popchips (3.5 ounces) will set you back 420 calories. Plus, you are likely to still feel hungry, since each serving has just 1 g of fiber.

But if you just can’t bear to pass these up, then consider trying the 0.8-ounce single-serving bags with 100 calories each. Available at most grocery stores and Target. Typical cost: 99¢ for a 0.8-ounce bag.

WONDERFUL PISTACHIOS

P 15 PistachiosThe claim: “One of the lowest-calorie nuts…”

Take it or leave it? These are worth a try. This product’s claim is true. One ounce (about 49 nuts) of pistachios contains 160 calories—similar to almonds and cashews and less than walnuts. All nuts are a good snack choice, but pistachios are loaded with lutein, a nutrient known to reduce risk for cataracts and other chronic eye diseases.

Individually portioned bags (1.5 ounces each) will help you avoid a calorie overdose. Available at Target, CVS and Walmart. Typical cost: $1.10.