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'I'm a doctor – here are the five worst snacks to eat between meals'

As a nation, we love snacking. In a 2023 Nestle survey, 87 percent of Brits admitted to snacking every day.

The most popular snacks were chocolate with 63 percent of people saying they enjoyed this treat, as well as crisps (57 percent) and cakes (45 percent). And more than half – 57.5 percent – said they replaced a meal with snacks at least once a week.

While it’s important to make sure you aren’t hungry throughout the day, snacking on certain foods might not be doing your health any favours.

One expert spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk about some of the best and worst snacks you can eat for your health.

Doctor Deborah Lee, from the Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, said there are plenty of pros to snacking. She said it can help curb hunger pangs between meals, restore blood glucose levels and “gives an additional opportunity for nutrition”.

Inversely too much snacking “curbs your appetite and can result in skipping meals”, she warned.

She added that snacking on high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods results in food cravings and reinforces unhealthy eating behaviour.

Worst snacks

Unfortunately, according to Dr Lee, some of our favourite snacks also happen to be the worst for our bodies.

Five of the worst snacks we can therefore eat are:

  • Crisps
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Pastries including sausage rolls
  • Chocolate.

“Unhealthy snacks are those that consist of processed and ultra-processed foods,” Dr Lee said.

“These are foods with a high-calorie content and have little or no nutritional value. However, they are often highly palatable and high in sugar, fat and salt.

“Common examples of the unhealthiest snacks are crisps, chips, biscuits, cakes, pastries, chocolate, ice cream and desserts.

“Manufacturers produce these foods on purpose to make them taste divine and ensure you want to keep eating them.”

She warned that they can be super addictive.

“Research has shown that eating processed and ultra-processed foods stimulates the pleasure centres in the brain in exactly the same way as a shot of cocaine,” she said.

“Sugar leads to the release of dopamine – the happy hormone. Repeatedly eating sugary snacks reinforces the neural pathways, leading to sugar cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It’s vital to break the cycle and stay away from unhealthy sugar addiction.”

Best snacks

As a general rule, Dr Lee recommended picking snacks based on whether they can improve your health – not worsen it.

“Snacks should provide only 10 percent of your daily calorie intake,” she said.

“Each snack should only be 150 to 200 calories.

“Snack on foods that are high in protein, fibre, and whole grains, or fruit and vegetables. Nuts and seeds contain large quantities of health-giving antioxidants.

“Use snacks as a way to get your five-a-day.”

She shared five of the healthiest snacks to eat:

  • Carrot, celery or apple sticks
  • Hummus, cottage cheese, or avocado – spread on whole grain crackers
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Probiotic yoghurt.

If you are craving something sweet, she added: “Try a sugar-free jelly or two to four squares of dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa solids).”


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