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The Unhealthiest Snacks On the Planet

Avoid these unhealthy snacks on your next trip to the supermarket.
snacks

To keep blood sugar levels stable, metabolism running, and weight loss on track, a snack can be one of the best tools in your arsenal. But if you choose unhealthy snacks (aka processed ones that come in packages) then you risk experiencing the exact opposite. Big yikes.

That's why we've rounded up some of the most popular chips, crackers, popcorn, cookies, and snack bars that either have sketchy nutritionals or do more harm than good for your belly. Make sure you're not munching on these truly unhealthy snacks. Instead, stock up on The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Now, here are the 35 of the unhealthiest snacks you'll find on grocery store shelves.

Chips

1

Lay's Potato Chips, Barbecue

lays bbq

1 oz (about 15 chips): 150 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

These chips are an American favorite. They're not the worst chip on this list with regard to calories or sodium, but they do still contain 10 grams of fat. If six-pack abs are in your sights, regularly munching on these chips may keep you from achieving your goal.

2

Ruffles Original

frito lay ruffles

1 oz (about 12 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Although these may have a more pleasing texture, they're not worth the eye-popping fat content. Save these textured chips for occasional indulgences.

3

Lay's Potato Chips, Classic

Lay's classic chips

1 oz serving (about 15 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat) 170 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein

These are so salty and oily, you'll find a coating on both your fingers and tongue after just one. That's reason enough to limit your consumption of this classic snack at the next picnic or sporting event you attend!

4

Pringles Sour Cream & Onion

pringles sour cream and onion

1 oz serving (about 15 chips): 150 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 1 g protein

The use of various vegetable oils and myriad other additives puts this flavor of Pringles on the naughty list.

5

Herr's Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips

herrs potato chips

1 oz: 150 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you're one of those people who puts ketchup on literally everything, you're probably tempted to indulge in these chips. But proceed with caution. Combining two salty items can only produce one result: sky-high sodium. One serving contains just under 300 milligrams of sodium. Remember, you should try and limit your intake of sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams per day.

For more, be sure to check out 8 Salty Snacks to Always Leave on Grocery Store Shelves.

6

Pringles Cheddar Cheese

pringles cheddar cheese

Per 1 serving (15 chips): 150 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 1 g protein

Similar to the sour cream and onion variety, Pringles' cheddar cheese chips are high in total fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Your best bet is to avoid this, or at the very least, consider them an every "once in a while" snack.

7

Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream

ruffles

1 oz serving (about 11 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

The nutritional profile of these and Ruffles' Original are about the same. However, this cheesy flavor contains two artificial dyes, Yellow 6 and Yellow 5, which a study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics discovered can contribute to ADHD in children.

8

Herr's Salt & Vinegar

herrs salt vinegar chips

Per 1 serving: 150 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 490 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you take nothing else from this article, heed this—the Herr's salt and vinegar chips have a whopping 490 milligrams of sodium per serving, far higher than any other option on this list. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but they hope most adults will actually consume no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. So keeping this in mind, one serving of these chips is almost one-third of that. Yikes!

9

Ruffles Baked Cheddar & Sour Cream

Oven Baked Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream

1 oz serving (about 11 chips): 120 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

These oven-baked chips may boast a lower fat content than their fried counterparts, but they consequently contain more salt—and sodium can derail your weight loss goals.

10

Fritos Corn Chips, Chili Cheese

fritos chili cheese flavored corn chips

1 oz (about 31 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

One serving of these Fritos costs you 10 grams of fat and 210 milligrams of sodium, both diet demons. They also contain caramel color—which is often found in soft drinks (one of the unhealthiest foods on the planet)—and is believed to be a carcinogen for humans, per a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

11

Cheetos, Flamin' Hot

cheetos flamin hot

1 oz (about 21 chips): 170 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein

Do you know how these spicy cheesy chips dye your fingertips red? Just imagine what they do to your insides. These flaming hot corn puffs are jam-packed with several artificial dyes and ingredients so try and skip as much as possible.

12

UTZ Red Hot

utz red hot chips

1 oz (about 20 chips): 150 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Spicy foods are notoriously good for giving your metabolism a kick, but these red hot chips are an exception. Riddled with artificial dyes, MSG, and a whopping 300 milligrams of sodium, you're better off skipping this snack.

Microwave Popcorn

13

Jolly Time Mini Bags Blast O Butter, Ultimate Theatre Style

blast-o-butter minis

Per 4.5 cups popped: 210 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (4 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 3 g protein

Although we kept serving sizes consistent for most of the popcorn bags, we made an exception for this one. That's because the bag is marketed as a single serving, so we'd assume people would likely work through the entire thing. Doing so means you'll set yourself back 13 grams of fat coming from inflammatory palm oil. It's not just microwaveable popcorn that does it; check out these foods with misleading serving sizes to see more examples of how you could be duped into consuming more calories than you were initially led to believe.

14

Cousin Willie's Buttery Explosion

buttery explosion

Per 2 tbsp (30 g) unpopped (5 cups popped): 160 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 340 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (5 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

This bag of kernels is a relic of the old days. Before the FDA announced that it was banning partially hydrogenated oils—also known as artery-clogging trans fats—from food, the majority of microwaveable popcorn brands contained this shelf-stable ingredient. Because the ban was enforced in 2018, many brands have moved away from this cardiotoxic ingredient. Not Cousin Willie's. The Indiana-based company serves up 150% of your recommended maximum intake of trans fats—one of the worst foods for your brain—in their standard serving.

For more, be sure to check out 9 Healthiest Microwave Popcorn Brands (& The Bags to Skip).

15

Pop-Secret Homestyle

popsecret homestyle popcorn

Per 2 tbsp (25 g) unpopped (3 cups popped): 130 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

Besides the high sodium and fat content, we were also irked by Pop-Secret's addition of palm oil and vague "natural flavors" to their kernels.

16

Act II Xtreme Butter

act 2 xtreme butter

Per 2 tbsp (36 g) unpopped (5 cups popped): 160 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

With TBHQ and palm oil, we'd rather not have a snack than munch on this buttery bag of popcorn while watching a movie!

17

Pop-Secret Double Butter Flavor

pop secret double butter

Per 2 tbsp (25 g) unpopped (4 cups popped): 130 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

It might have less fat than other popcorn brands, but Pop-Secret contains more salt. And it's no secret that a high salt intake isn't great for your heart health.

18

Orville Redenbacher's Pour Over Movie Theater Butter

pour over movie theater butter

Per 2 tbsp (33 g) unpopped (3.5 cups popped): 180 calories, 14 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

Those 14 grams of fat are full of linoleic acid: an omega-6 fatty acid that has been found to be possibly adipogenic, which means it promotes fat storage in our bodies. Luckily, you have the calorie-cutting power in your own hands, thanks to Orville Redenbacher's "Pour Over" butter. Use the flavor sparsely!

19

Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter

orville movie theater butter

Per 2 tbsp (34 g) unpopped (5.5 cups popped): 170 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

This might surprise you, but the ingredients of Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter are the exact same as the "Homestyle" bowl listed below. But because there is more fat and sodium in this recipe, we'd recommend going with the option below if you have to choose one.

20

Orville Redenbacher's Homestyle

orville homestyle

Per 2 tbsp (35 g) unpopped (4 cups popped): 170 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (3 fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

It might be called "Homestyle," but we'd bet you don't have "artificial flavors" or "TBHQ" in your pantry. We do, however, hope you have these healthy pantry staples!

Crackers

21

Keebler Club Crackers, Original

club crackers

Per 1 serving, 4 pieces: 70 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), <1 g protein

They're a go-to staple snack when your stomach is upset—but, unfortunately, not so great in general. At first glance, the nutritionals don't seem too bad but since these crackers are considered empty calories, doubling or tripling your serving size (which is pretty easy to do when the recommended serving size is just four crackers!) can lead you to consume 200 calories of a snack that's lacking in nutrients.

22

Ritz Roasted Vegetable

ritz roasted vegetable crackers

Per 1 serving, 5 crackers: 80 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

As the name suggests, this box contains a handful of dehydrated vegetables. The problem is, the main ingredient is still flour and it's bogged down with partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup.

23

Ritz Bits Sandwiches, Cheese

ritz bits

Per 1 serving, 13 pieces: 160 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (0 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 2 g protein

Time to stop reaching into your tote bag and doling these out to your kiddos—there are healthier options out there!

Check out 15 Best Healthy Snacks to Buy for Kids, According to a Dietitian.

24

Cheez-It Original

cheez it

Per 1 serving, 27 crackers: 150 calories, 8 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

Cheez-It's lack of fiber prevents these crackers from having a meaningful impact on hunger. If you're going to snack, do so smartly.

25

Keebler Club Crackers, Multigrain

club crackers multigrain

Per 1 serving, 4 crackers: 60 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), <1 g protein

If you're looking for a plain cracker to calm your tummy, you can find one without preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.

26

Keebler Town House Flatbread Crisps Sea Salt & Olive Oil

townhouse flatbread crisps sea salt olive oil

Per 1 serving, 8 crackers: 70 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 1 g protein

The four grams of fat here come mostly from soybean oil, which the experts are not exactly fans of.

27

Wheat Thins Original

family size box of original wheat thins

Per 1 serving, 16 crackers: 140 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 2 g protein

Wheat Thins rely heavily on refined grains, which means less protein and fiber in each serving.

Cookies

28

Keebler E.L.Fudge Elfwich

keebler el fudge double stuffed cookies

Per 1 serving, 2 cookies: 170 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 2 g protein

These cookies are double stuffed with fudge, which clearly means double the trouble. And 12 grams of sugar in just cookies is never a good look.

29

Oreos

oreos classic

Per 1 serving, 3 cookies: 160 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 1 g protein

This might be your favorite cookie from your childhood, but it's loaded in sugar and HFCS. Plus, the simple carbs aren't doing you any favors, either. Along with the zero fiber you're getting, you'll end up staying hungry, reaching for more and that's not going to help you keep your weight-loss goals in check.

30

Pepperidge Farm Milano Dark Chocolate

milano dark chocolate

Per 1 serving, 3 cookies: 180 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 2 g protein

Here, you're getting 11 grams of added sugar in one serving—yes, that's a whole lot!

31

Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies

Famous amos bite size chocolate chip cookies

Per 1 serving, 4 cookies: 140 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 1 g protein

The biggest problem with Famous Amos cookies? It's how small they are, as it's way too easy for the calories and fat to rack up as you mindlessly munch away.

Nutrition Bars

32

Detour Cookies 'n Cream Crunch

detour lean muscle

Per 1 bar: 350 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated), 250 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (6 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 32 g protein

If the whopping 350 calories in this Detour bar didn't deter you from skipping it, consider the ultra-long ingredient list.

33

Balance Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter

balance peanut butter bar

Per 1 bar: 210 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 14 g protein

Following a protein blend, the second ingredient in this bar is sugar in the form of fructose. A study by the Endocrine Society found that fructose is a major cause of dangerous visceral (abdominal) fat.

34

Clif Bar Chocolate Brownie

clif chocolate brownie

Per 1 bar: 250 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (4 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 9 g protein

Opt for a Snickers bar over this chocolate brownie Clif and you'll save a gram of sugar!

35

Zone Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

zone perfect bar

Per 1 bar: 180 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (1 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 10 g protein

This bar boasts 10 grams of protein and is under 200 calories, so at first glance, it may seem like a good choice. But don't be fooled—it certainly deserves a spot on our list of unhealthy snacks. It contains three different forms of sugar within the first four ingredients listed on the nutrition label. Brown rice syrup and corn syrup are the first two ingredients, which means they're the most abundant. Plus, the lack of fiber won't keep your hunger pangs or blood sugar spikes at bay. For better nutrition and protein bar options, don't miss our list of best nutrition bars.

Don't miss 40 Best Weight Loss Tips for Women Over 40.

Eat This, Not That! Editors
Inspired by The New York Times best-selling book series, Eat This, Not That! is a brand that's comprised of an award-winning team of journalists and board-certified experts, doctors, nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, and dietitians who work together to bring you accurate, timely, informative, and actionable content on food, nutrition, dieting, weight loss, health, wellness, and more. Read more