It can be hard to resist a tasty snack every now and again, and we all know that most of the things we snack on aren’t very good for us. While these snacks might be convenient and often delicious, they can also contain high levels of sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives. Eating these unhealthy snacks too regularly can lead to problems like weight gain, poor nutrition, and various health issues. Here are 18 unhealthy snacks that you should try to avoid.

Candy Bars

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Candy bars are a go-to snack for many people, but they can have adverse effects on your health if you eat too many of them. This delicious treat contains large amounts of sugar and is high in calories. They will often make you crash after giving you a small energy boost and can lead to weight gain, increased blood sugar levels, and a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease in the long term.

Sugary Breakfast Cereals

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It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s no good if you don’t eat a healthy breakfast! Sugary cereals might seem like a quick and tasty breakfast choice, but they’re far from healthy. These cereals are loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, increased cravings, and overeating throughout the day. Choose an option with more fiber and protein for a healthier breakfast.

Energy Drinks

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Energy drinks are marketed as a quick fix to make you feel less tired and help you perform better. However, the ugly truth is that energy drinks are packed with unhealthy ingredients that can cause issues like an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and insomnia. NCBI reports that “about 30% [of Americans] consume energy drinks on a regular basis.” People who drink energy drinks too regularly can even become reliant on them and addicted.

Pastries

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Most people will know that pastries aren’t the healthiest snack option, but are they aware of just how bad for you they can actually be? Pastries are full of sugar, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates that can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Packaged pastries also contain artificial preservatives, which can be detrimental to your health. Go for homemade or healthier alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth without risking your health.

Potato Chips

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Potato chips are probably one of the most popular snack choices, as they’re seen as a tasty, convenient, and substantial option. Unfortunately for all the potato chip fans, this snack is high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives. Most potato chips are deep-fried too, which means there’s likely the dreaded trans fats in your favorite packet of chips! These unhealthy ingredients can cause problems with heart health, blood pressure, and weight gain. Try baked chips or vegetable chips instead.

Pretzels

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Pretzels are often seen as a healthier snack option; however, they can catch you out! While it’s true that they’re lower in fat than chips, they’re typically high in refined flour and sodium. Pretzels don’t contain much fiber and protein either, which means they have little nutritional value and will likely leave you feeling hungry again shortly after. Don’t let the pretzel deceive you, and opt for a whole-grain or low-sodium version whenever possible!

Microwave Popcorn

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Microwave popcorn is the perfect snack for a movie night at home, but do you know what harmful ingredients are hidden away inside a bag of popcorn? Many varieties of microwave popcorn include artificial flavors, unhealthy trans fats, and high levels of sodium. The lining of the bags also frequently contains something called perfluorooctanoic acid (what a mouthful!), which is a chemical linked to various health concerns including cancer! Step away from the microwave popcorn.

Processed Deli Meats

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Processed deli meats such as ham, salami, and bologna are convenient and tasty; however, they come with significant health risks. These meats are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and preservatives like nitrates and nitrites, which can increase the risk of heart disease and even certain cancers! According to the World Health Organization, “about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meats.” Opting for fresh, unprocessed meats or plant-based sources of protein is the way forward.

Candy

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We can all agree that candy is simply irresistible sometimes, especially when you’re a kid! It’s a good idea to try to resist this temptation and avoid eating too much candy though, as it can have pretty bad effects on your health. Lots of sugar and artificial colors and flavors are often on the list of ingredients in candy, and these can cause all sorts of issues like weight gain, dental problems, and a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Granola Bars

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Another snack that people often think is a healthy choice is granola bars. Despite their healthy reputation, these bars can be packed with added sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients to improve their flavor and shelf life. This turns a supposedly nutritious snack into a source of empty calories. Be careful which granola bars you pick up at the grocery store and make sure you check their nutrition label!

Flavored Yogurts

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You probably often see flavored yogurts marketed as a nutritious snack, but there can sometimes be a lot of added sugars and artificial ingredients hidden in this food to make it taste better. These yogurts, particularly fruit-flavored and dessert varieties, can contribute to weight gain, dental problems, and the chance of developing conditions like diabetes. They can also lack the probiotics and nutritional benefits that healthier plain yogurts can provide.

Processed Cheese

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Cheese is a beloved food for most people, and the options for snacks containing processed cheese are endless! No matter how much you love cheese, it’s not a smart idea to eat a lot of these snacks, as processed cheese and things like cheese spreads and cheese dips often come with a whole host of health concerns! High in unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives, processed cheese can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues.

Fried Foods

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Fried foods can be pretty terrible for your health if you eat them regularly. In most cases, the frying process uses trans fats and saturated fats, and these can raise bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Harvard Health explains that “people who ate the most fried foods each week were 28% more likely to have heart problems.” On top of this, the high temperatures used in frying foods can create harmful compounds that are linked to cancer!

Donuts

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They might be one of America’s favorite treats, but donuts are unfortunately one of the least nutritious snacks you could choose! Usually fried and loaded with sugar and trans fats, donuts cause a rapid rise in blood sugar as well as raising bad cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of heart disease. While it’s ok to have the occasional donut as a treat, you should avoid eating them regularly to limit their negative effects.

Instant Noodles

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A popular choice for a convenient snack, instant noodles are notoriously unhealthy! You should think twice before you reach for instant noodles, as they’re often high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and additives. Even the seasoning packets are bad for you, containing a large amount of salt and a flavor enhancer called MSG, which can lead to increased blood pressure and other health issues. Stick to whole-grain noodles as a much healthier option!

Soda and Sugary Drinks

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You should steer clear of soda and sugary drinks, as they’re a major cause of poor health! These drinks are packed with added sugar and empty calories, which lead to weight gain and obesity. The acids and sugars in soda and sugary drinks erode tooth enamel and cause dental problems too. Having these drinks regularly is also linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. If you’re thirsty, maybe go for water, herbal tea, or naturally flavored sparkling water instead.

Ice Cream

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Everyone loves ice cream, but you probably shouldn’t eat it as much as you do. Ice cream is often full of sugar, unhealthy fats, and calories, and you can increase your risk of developing chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease if you have it too frequently! Some ice creams also contain artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, which can have additional negative health effects. Stick to enjoying ice cream on special occasions and in moderation!

Fruit Snacks

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Even though fruit snacks are typically advertised as healthy snacks for children and adults alike, they’re far from nutritious! Fruit snacks are usually made with concentrated fruit juices or purees and contain added sugars, artificial flavors, and preservatives. This results in a lack of fiber and essential nutrients that are found in whole fruits. If you eat fruit snacks often, they can contribute to spikes in blood sugar, diabetes, weight gain, and bad dental health.

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