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12 Low-Fat Snacks That Are Actually Unhealthy

Just because these snacks are low in fat doesn't mean they're good for you. Dietitians reveal the groceries to watch out for.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

The information and recommendations you see online and in the news can feel contradictory and confusing regarding consuming fat. On one hand, healthy fats help you feel full and satisfied, and our bodies need fat for vital functions like hormone production, nutrient absorption, and protecting vital organs. On the other, fat is a major source of calories (nine calories per gram compared to four calories per gram of carbohydrates and protein), and too much of it can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and even some types of cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Snack foods that are low in fat are often advertised as being a "healthier" option, but this isn't always the case. While low-fat snacks are typically lower in calories, they often include unwanted nutrients or ingredients, such as added sugars, to compensate for the taste and texture that fat adds to foods.

Here are 12 popular snack foods that are lower in fat but may not be the best choice for your health.

Welch's Mixed Fruit Fruit Snacks

Welch's Mixed Fruit Fruit Snacks
Nutrition (Per 1-pouch (22 gram) serving):
Calories: 70
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 20 mg
Carbs: 17 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 1 g

Welch's Mixed Fruit Fruit Snacks may have fruit in the name (twice) but don't confuse them with a healthy snack. "Even though fruit is listed as the first ingredient and includes vitamins A, C, and E, it's not a [low-fat] healthy snack," says Amy Beney, MS, RDN, CDCES. Corn syrup and sugar are the second and third ingredients, adding eight grams, or two teaspoons, of added sugar to each serving.

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Stauffer's Animal Crackers

Stauffer's Animal Crackers
Nutrition (Per 16 crackers (30 grams)):
Calories: 120
Fat: 2 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 105 mg
Carbs: 24 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 2 g

With "Low Fat Food" and "0g Trans Fat" plastered right on the front of the package, you may think Stauffer's Animal Crackers are a healthier snack option. The ingredient list includes enriched flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and soybean oil. With two types of sweeteners added, you'll get seven grams of added sugars in just 16 crackers without any fiber or protein to help keep you full.

Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries

Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries
Ocean Spray
Nutrition (Per ¼ cup (40 gram) serving):
Calories: 130
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 29 g)
Protein: 0 g

Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries sound nutritious, as they're dried fruit and naturally fat-free, but the 26 grams of added sugar per serving make it hard to fit them into a healthy diet. "This is more added sugar than the American Heart Association recommends as a limit for women, which is 25 grams per day," says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES. Berger recommends skipping these and choosing dried cranberries with no added sugars.

Jell-O Sugar-Free Strawberry Gelatin

Jell-O Sugar-Free Strawberry Gelatin
Kraft Heinz
Nutrition (Per 12.5-ounce serving):
Calories: 10
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber:-0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 0 g

Jell-O Sugar-Free Strawberry Gelatin is sugar-free and fat-free, which may have you wondering what could be wrong with this low-calorie snack. "One major concern is the artificial sweeteners like aspartame in many sugar-free Jello products. These artificial sweeteners have been linked to potential health risks, including cardiovascular and gut health problems," says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT, owner of One Pot Wellness based in Indianapolis, IN.

A November 2021 animal study in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that artificial sweeteners like acesulfame potassium, found in Jell-O, may create undesirable changes in the gut microbiome, but more research is needed to know the amount of these sweeteners that would create the same effect in humans.

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Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars Strawberry

nutrigrain strawberry
Nutrition (Per one bar (37 gram) serving):
Calories: 130
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 135 mg
Carbs: 25 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 2 g

Kellogg's Strawberry Nutri-Grain Bars are too high in added sugar to count as a healthy snack or breakfast. "Despite having just three and a half grams of total fat and half a gram of saturated fat, you'll also get 12 grams of added sugar (equivalent to three teaspoons)," says Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD. Diets high in added sugars are strongly related to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

Chobani Flip S'more S'mores Yogurt

Chobani Flip S'more S'mores
Nutrition (Per 4.5 ounce serving):
Calories: 150
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 65 mg
Carbs: 21 g (Fiber: <1 g, Sugar: 17 g)
Protein: 9 g

Chobani Flip S'more S'mores Yogurt may use low-fat Greek Yogurt, but that doesn't make this yogurt snack healthy. "Chobani Flip S'more S'mores yogurt has 17 grams of sugar, 14 of which are added sugar, making it a poor choice for a healthy snack," says Lindsay Cohen RD, LD, CDCES, Owner of ABC Nutrition Solutions. The current recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans include limiting added sugars to 10% of daily calories, while health organizations like The American Heart Association recommend just 5% of calories come from added sugars to reduce its detrimental effects on health.

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Skinny Cow Vanilla Gone Wild Ice Cream Sandwiches

Skinny cow ice cream
Skinny Cow
Nutrition (Per one sandwich (64 grams)):
Fat: 3 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 115 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 14 g)
Protein: 3 g

Lightened-up varieties of some of your favorite foods may remove fat, lowering their calories, but that doesn't necessarily make them healthier. Skinny Cow Vanilla Gone Wild Ice Cream Sandwiches only have three grams of fat, but they still add 11 grams of added sugars to your day.

Rold Gold Fat-Free Tiny Twists Pretzels

Rold Gold Fat-Free Tiny Twists Pretzels
Rold Gold
Nutrition (Per 18 pretzels (28 grams)):
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 450 mg
Carbs: 23 g (Fiber: <1 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 3 g

Rold Gold Fat-Free Tiny Twists Pretzels have no fat and only one gram of sugar, but they make our list with 450 milligrams of sodium in each serving. Just 18 pretzels have 20% of the daily value (DV) of sodium. Diets high in sodium can lead to higher blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke while also increasing the risk of kidney disease and stomach cancer.

Mott's Tropical Applesauce Cup

Mott's Tropical Applesauce Cup
Nutrition (Per 4 ounce cup):
Calories: 90
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 22 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 20 g)
Protein: 0 g

Applesauce is a healthy and nutritious snack, but not when added sugars are packed into this already sweet treat. Mott's Tropical Applesauce includes apples and banana puree (not the mango, pineapple, and orange pictured on the label), but the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which adds 11 grams of added sugar to a half-cup serving.

Blue Ribbon Rainbow Sherbet Cups

Blue Ribbon Rainbow Sherbet Cups
Blue Ribbon
Nutrition (Per single-serve container (65 grams)):
Calories: 80
Fat: 0 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbs: 19g (Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 15g)
Protein: 0g

Blue Ribbon Rainbow Sherbet Cups are naturally fat-free but loaded with excess sugars. Instead of relying on fruit juices' natural coloring, they include food dyes Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, and Red 40. Sherbet contains some milk, a lot of sugar, and a little bit of fruit juice for flavor, unlike ice cream, which relies on dairy fat and sugar. So while it's low in calories and fat, you'll get 14 grams of added sugars in just one single-serve container.

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Quaker Caramel Rice Crisps

Quaker Caramel Rice Crisps
Nutrition (Per 16-piece serving):
Calories: 110
Fat: 1 g (Saturated fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 210 mg
Carbs: 25 g (Fiber: <1 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 1 g

Sure, they're made with whole grain rice and corn, but Quaker Caramel Rice Crisps may not be as healthy as they seem. While they only have one gram of fat, each serving has less than one gram of fiber and nine grams of sugar. "Reviewing the ingredients list, you'll find several sources of that sugar: sweetened condensed milk, invert sugar, and cooked apple juice concentrate. While not a sugar, corn maltodextrin is the second ingredient which behaves in a similar way to sugar when it comes to affecting our blood sugar levels as it has a high glycemic value," says Michelle Rauch, MSc, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist for The Actors Fund.

Newman's Own Low Fat Fig Newmans

Newman's Own Low Fat Fig Newmans
Newman's Own
Nutrition (Per 2 bars):
Calories: 100
Fat: 1.5 g (Saturated fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 120 mg
Carbs: 20 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 1 g

Low Fat Fig Newman cookies have just one and a half grams of fat, but the rest of the nutrition isn't as impressive. For a fig bar, you'd expect figs to be top of the ingredient list (like they are with the branded Fig Newton), but figs fall third after unbleached wheat flour and sugar. While figs are naturally sweet, you also get 8 grams of added sugars in each serving. And even though these cookies include wheat flour and figs, two fiber-rich foods, they only have 1 gram of fiber.

Kelsey Kunik, RDN
Kelsey Kunik is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, nutrition consultant, and sustainable food blogger. Read more about Kelsey
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