It’s usually when we’re stressed or time-pressed that we start reaching into the pantry for snacks that aren’t exactly the healthiest choice. Sometimes, it’s just easier to grab a bag of chips or candy bar than to think about a food option that actually has some nutritional value. But believe it or not, there are tons of delicious heart-healthy snacks that take less than five minutes to prepare.
You know what comes in handy in times like these? A cheat sheet. All the snack ideas rounded up here are recommended by dietitians and will not only satisfy a craving for something sweet or savory, they also take minimal time to put together and help support heart health. That’s right: Snacking can actually do your ticker some good. Bookmark this list and use it the next time you go grocery shopping and again when the afternoon hunger hits.
Related: 57 Easy and Delicious Low-Calorie Snacks for When the 4 PM Slump Hits
20 Heart-Healthy Snacks
1. Almond butter and fruit
Registered dietitian Erica Ingraham, RD, says that this snack has a trifecta of heart health benefits: fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. “There is not necessarily one fruit that is ‘best’ so you can incorporate the ones you enjoy most,” she says. “Whether fruit is fresh, frozen, or canned it provides heart health benefits.”
2. Red grapes, cranberries, or pomegranates
As Ingraham pointed out, all fruit is good for heart health, but registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, says that fruit that’s a deep red or purple color is especially beneficial. “The antioxidants found in these fruits are what give them their coloring and are also responsible for their heart health benefits,” she says.
3. Avocado toast
In the mood for something savory rather than sweet? Rifkin says avocado on whole-grain toast is a great heart-healthy snack because it’s full of fiber and healthy fats. This combo is also a lot more satiating than anything you’ll find in a vending machine, ensuring you won’t be hunting for another snack a mere half hour later.
Related: In Case You Needed Another Reason to Eat Avocado Toast, Here Are 10 Awesome Health Benefits of Avocados
4. Hummus and veggies
Another great savory snack pick, Ingraham likes this one because the hummus has protein, which is a heart-healthy way to provide the body with energy to power through the afternoon. As for the vegetables, they have both fiber and antioxidants, just like fruit.
5. Bread and olive oil
“Adding in foods rich in unsaturated fats is recommended to support heart health,” Ingraham says, specifying that olive oil is a great example of this. Want the maximum benefits possible? Opt for whole-grain or multi-grain bread, which is higher in fiber than white bread.
6. Tuna, avocado, and cucumber slices
One savory snack Rifkin loves is mashed avocado and tuna on sliced cucumber. Tuna and avocado both have healthy fats that benefit the heart while the cucumber slices are a great source of fiber, which is another nutrient that supports the heart.
7. Tuna salad
Sometimes you don’t even have five minutes to prepare a snack. In times like these, you can forgo the cucumber slices and avocado and focus just on the tuna. Starkist’s ready-to-eat tuna packages come in a wide range of flavors. All you need is a fork!
8. Salmon and crackers
Like tuna, Ingraham says that salmon is a great source of healthy fats. A little lox and cracker pairing is an easy way to get these benefits while satisfying a craving for something savory.
Related: 5 Delicious, Healthy Fish That Will Pack an Omega-3 Punch Without Too Much Mercury
9. Walnuts and fruit
One of the healthiest nut choices for your heart is walnuts. Ingraham says that this is because they are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, eating walnuts every day has been scientifically shown to lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Round out your snack with a fruit of your choice.
10. Bean salsa with sliced bell peppers
Beans are one of the most heart-healthy foods out there, which is why Rifkin is such a fan of this snack. Pair your salsa with sliced bell peppers, which contain a compound called lycopene that is linked to reducing LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” kind) and increasing HDL “good” cholesterol.
Sometimes, you just need a snack that’s crunchy—even if you aren’t even hungry. Rifkin’s go-to for times like these is popcorn, which has more fiber and less sodium and calories than chips.
12. Roasted chickpeas
Another snack that can really hit the spot when you’re craving something crunchy is roasted chickpeas. Just like hummus, Ingraham says that they are full of both fiber and protein. Adding spices like turmeric or paprika will up the anti-inflammatory benefits, increasing the heart-health perks even more.
Scientific studies show that a diet rich in plant-based proteins directly benefits the heart. Snacking on edamame is a way to do just that. Ingraham points out that this food is a great source of fiber too.
14. Pumpkin seeds
A handful of pumpkin seeds has great fiber, plant protein and healthy fats—a trifecta of heart-healthy benefits. Spice them up with cinnamon, a spice that’s been proven to lower blood pressure.
15. Cheese and whole grain crackers
If you’re a cheese lover, Rifkin says that string cheese and whole grain crackers can be a great heart-healthy choice. The crackers have fiber and the cheese has protein and calcium, which isn’t just good for your bones; it benefits the cardiovascular system too!
16. Trail mix
Can’t decide if you want a sweet snack or a savory one? Trail mix has the best of both worlds. Rifkin likes to make hers with nuts, dried fruit and Cheerios. As you know by now, the nuts have heart-healthy fats and the dried fruit has antioxidants.
17. Peanut butter on whole-grain toast
Slathering some peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain toast is an easy way to get fiber, healthy fats and protein. It’s satiating too, helping to tie you over until dinnertime.
18. Overnight oats with nut butter
Overnight oats don’t have to be saved for breakfast; Ingraham says they can make a great snack, too. Regularly eating oats has been shown to help reduce “bad” cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Top it off with nut butter or fruit for added benefits.
19. Corn chips and guac
Ingraham says that chips and guac can absolutely be a heart-healthy snack. As long as they aren’t high in sodium, corn chips can provide great fiber without negatively impacting cardiovascular health. Avocados are also full of fiber as well as healthy fats. Go the extra mile by incorporating heart-healthy spices into your guacamole such as cayenne pepper, cumin and garlic.
20. Yogurt or cottage cheese
Just like in string cheese, the dairy in yogurt and cottage cheese is a good source of calcium, which is beneficial for heart health. Round out your snack by pairing your yogurt with fruit or cottage cheese with a veggie such as carrots or cucumber.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of heart-healthy snacks that take no time at all to prep. The key is simply knowing what they are and having them on hand. With this list, you’ll be well prepared. Bring on the snacks!
Next up, get more tips on how to protect your heart and lower your risk of heart disease.