The 10 Best Gut Health Snacks
When it comes to gut health and snacking, things can get quite confusing fast. So today I’ll tell you all about Gut Health Snacks! What can you eat to satisfy your cravings and keep your gut healthy at the same time? Win-win!
Criteria of a Gut Health Snack
First things first. What criteria does a gut health snack have to meet? For this list I went for the following requirements:
– It contains fiber
– It contains nutrients and is not too energy-dense
– It’s tasty
– It’s as natural as possible
– It’s easy to make and/or easy to take with you
So when you come across a snack you want to eat, try and rate it by these criteria to decide for yourself whether you want it or not. To give you a little more information, I’ll explain the requirements more in-depth below.
Curious about more gut-healthy foods? Schedule a free IBS-symptom assessment and I’ll tell you more!
It contains fiber
For me, this is one of the most important factors for a gut-healthy snack. Fiber is the main food source of your friends, the gut bacteria. If your gut bacteria are well-nourished and happy in your gut, they are going to help you stay healthy. The gut bacteria support your immune system and your overall gut health. Good gut health has been linked to overall health and a reduction of risk for multiple chronic diseases. So keeping them happy is of vital importance for your health.
Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, and thus your gut bacteria will digest it for you. While doing so they create Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) like butyrate and vitamin K. Those are essential nutrients for your body.
Fiber is found in most plant-based products, and there’s basically none of it in animal products. So any type of fruit, vegetable, nut, seed or whole grain is going to add a nice amount of fiber to your diet!
It contains nutrients and is not too energy-dense
This is an important one for the amount of satiety you’re going to get from the snack and for the overall amount of calories you will be using in the day.
Your body functions on nutrients. Nutrients can be divided into macro-nutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fat and micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Every one of those nutrients has a basic daily recommendation of the amount your body needs. By consuming snacks that contain nutrients, you nourish your body and help it to function properly.
Well, I won’t be too long about this. Nobody is going to eat a snack that tastes like shit. So I thought this is a no-brainer….
It’s as natural as possible
Your body doesn’t need additives to function. The fewer additives are added to a product, the more room there is for nutrients. Usually, the more natural a product is, the more nutrients it contains. And nutrients lead to satiety.
It’s easy to make and/or easy to take with you
Snacks are usually eaten on the go, or in a short break. This requires them to be easy, fast and not too much of a hassle to take with you. If you’re stressing about the snacks you have to bring with you, or the amount of time it takes to consume it, that will not benefit your gut health. Since stress is a factor that reduces the diversity of the bacteria in your gut.
Do you want more information on foods for gut health? Then schedule an online consultation at my online dietician’s practice Darm diëtist, and I will help you with all your questions!
Taken into account the criteria mentioned above, I’ve created a list of gut-healthy snacks for you to enjoy! So pick your favorites and have yourself a healthy snack!
And coincidentally, they’re actually all gluten-free!
This one might be obvious, but many people still forget about nuts as a snack. They’re incredibly healthy, are a great source of fiber, healthy fats and vitamins and minerals. This actually makes them the perfect snack!
They are easy to take with you as long as you have a small container to store them. I do not recommend taking them in a bag since that will only add to more waste on our planet.
Be careful when picking your portions for nuts though! Nuts are high in healthy unsaturated fats, but fats do provide a lot of calories. Keep your portion size at about 30 grams, since that will already provide you with about 200 calories.
The dried fruits can be amazing at satisfying a sweet tooth! There are countless options to choose from. Think about dried apricots, dates, apples, plums, raisins, kiwi, mango and so on! Basically every fruit has a dried option for sale nowadays.
The benefit of dried fruit is that all the fiber and minerals are preserved in the process. Although the vitamins are lost, this still leaves for a rather nutritious and tasty snack!
For dried fruit, it’s important to be mindful of your portion size. All the sugar that is present in fresh fruit is also present in dried fruit, but the water (and volume) are gone! This makes it easier to consume bigger portion sizes of dried fruit than fresh fruit. Which can lead to higher sugar intake.
Stay below 50 grams per portion of dried fruit. Take the fruit with you in a small container or in your lunchbox.
Wholegrain rice cake with topping
Rice cakes are usually not the most nutritionally valuable snack. Unless you choose a rice cake that is made out of brown rice or whole grains! Those crackers contain the fiber and nutrients from the whole grains and this makes them superior to their ‘non-whole grain’ counterparts.
You can also choose rice cakes based on quinoa, buckwheat or even chickpeas nowadays! All the more options to have a different healthy snack each day.
As for toppings, you can go all out on healthy spreads some examples:
– peanut or nut butters like almond or cashew. Maybe top it with ground cinnamon or cacao powder!
– hummus in basically every flavor
– banana or any other fruit like apples or pear. Maybe top it with ground cinnamon or cacao powder!
– vegetable spread like Ajvar, tapenade, pesto or my recipe for pea, feta and mint spread!
– jam without added sugars
Vegetables with dips
Vegetables are the one product you can’t go wrong with. You can eat as many varieties as you want and in big amounts, and it will still only benefit you! So adding vegetables as a snack is always a good idea!
Great and easy options are cherry tomatoes, slices of cucumber (or those mini cucumbers!), radishes, celery, carrots or strips of red bell peppers.
Combine the vegetables with a healthy dip, to make them even more satisfying!
Dips options can be:
– hummus in every flavor
– tzatziki (a Greek yogurt dip with cucumber and garlic)
– 2/3 of a cup of yogurt, 1/3 of a cup of water and 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite herbs and/or spices. Mix it all together and go dipping!
– guacamole (preferably all-natural)
Yogurt with topping
When it comes to combining with yogurt, you can go all out! Get a cup of your favorite (maybe even plant-based) yogurt and top it with anything you like (that’s healthy)!
– fruits or berries
– nuts or seeds or even a teaspoon of nut butter
– cacao powder or nibs
– ground cinnamon
– honey or jam without added sugar
Banana or apple with peanut butter and cinnamon
This is one I personally love to make! And love to give to my 4-year old niece, because it makes her eat fruit!
Simply slice a banana in half lengthwise or cut an apple into slices. Spread a little bit of peanut butter or other nut butter on top of the fruit and sprinkle it with cinnamon. Happy faces guaranteed!
If you’re craving something saltier, olives are a great option. They’re a product from nature and contain fiber, antioxidants, iron, and copper. The only downside is that they’re very salty. Keep your portion size preferably below 10 olives, and you’ll be good.
Dark chocolate (and I mean very dark!)
People often think chocolate is healthy, and in many cases, it’s not. Even dark chocolate often contains added sugar and a relatively large amount of saturated (unhealthy) fats. When you do decide to have some chocolate, make sure to pick one that has at least 85% cacao and preferably even more! The more cacao that’s in the bar, the less space there is for additives.
Always check the ingredients and nutritional information on the back of the packaging to check what’s been added. And to be honest, the chocolate does not contain much fiber. But it sure is better than it’s milky counterpart!
Popcorn on its own is a good snack to have, the only downside to store-bought brands is the added salt and/or sugar. The solution: make it yourself! It’s actually pretty easy. Buy yourself some popcorn kernels, grab a pot and heat up 2 tablespoons of oil, add about 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and put the lid on. For my recipe, click here! The popcorn will soon pop! Once the popcorn has popped, add your favorite herbs and/or spices to it to make it delicious! Think about paprika powder, garlic or onion powder, Italian spices, nutritional yeast, cinnamon or cacao! So many options! Bon Appetit!
This one takes a little more effort to make, just like the popcorn. You can roast chickpeas with herbs and spices in the oven to make a scrumptious snack!
Just drain and rinse a can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans, since that’s the same…), dry them with a towel, mix them with oil, and bake them on a baking tray with baking paper. For the full recipe and flavor options, click here for my recipe.
Once you made the roasted chickpeas, you can also easily take them with you in a small container for a snack on the go!
What is your favorite go-to snack? Let me know in a comment below!
Hi there, I’m Manon.
In my daily life I work as a registered dietitian in the Netherlands with a special interest in gut health.
During my workday I get loads of questions about healthy food, recipes and lifestyle to make it a little easier to get healthy. On Positive Gut I collect my best recommendations, tips and recipes to make your healthy lifestyle a little easier!