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Brain Food: 20 Healthy Snacks for College Students

Many of these snacks are accessible in college meal programs - or anywhere else, for that matter.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 03, 2021

Skip the unhealthy carbs and sugary sweets during study breaks. Do your brain and body a favor with these healthy snacks.
Brain Food: 20 Healthy Snacks for College Students
College students get a bad rap when it comes to healthy eating and snacking. Images of pizza delivery and late-night snack binges are often what comes to mind when you think of the college diet. However, just because you are a college student doesn’t mean you have to live like a cliched version when it comes to how and what you eat. Eating healthy snacks as a college student is not only recommended, it’s possible and affordable. Plus, eating healthy has it’s benefits outside of how it makes you feel physically. Healthy snacks are better for your brain, which you happen to use a lot as a high school or college student. If you’re turning to food during a study break, or after a long night of studying, look no further than these 20 affordable, brain-healthy snacks.
  1. Apples Depending on the apple type (Granny Smith and Red Delicious are the cheapest), you can purchase them for around a dollar a pound.
  2. Bananas Bananas give a lot of bang for your buck. They’re perfect for on-the-go and have much-needed vitamins, fiber, and low salt content.
  3. Carrots Carrots are easy, cheap and packed with nutrition like natural carbohydrates, fiber, calcium and potassium. It’s probably more cost effective to buy full-sized packages (even of baby carrots), which are usually around $2 for a 16 oz bag. But, they also come in cute on-the-go packages that are around 35 calories each, so there’s really no excuse not to munch on these nutritious little veggies.
  4. Oranges Other than the obvious vitamin C benefit, you’ll get potassium, calcium, healthy carbohydrates and more vitamins. They are high in sugar, but it’s nowhere near as bad as a candy bar. You can get an entire bag of oranges for the same price as an unhealthy bag of chips, so make the smart decision and purchase a bag next time you’re looking for a sweet treat.
  5. Peanuts Peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut. They’re cheap and chock-full of protein. They’re high in the good kinds of fats and can keep you full longer than snacks made with artificial preservatives. If consumed in 2-ounce portions, peanuts are around 300 calories. They’re a good alternative if you’re craving a salty snack.
  6. Oatmeal High in fiber and protein, while being low in calories and fat, isn't easy to find. That's why oatmeal is basically the gem of quick and easy foods. It also doesn’t hurt that it tastes good and comes in instant options, making it convenient for on-the-go students.
  7. Green Veggies Everyone knows they should eat their greens, but have you ever thought about taking a baggie of raw broccoli, string beans or pea pods on the go as a snack. You should - they have benefits which include Vitamin C, antioxidants and more. When looking for veggies, the greener and leafier, the better.
  8. String Cheese String cheese can curb your sweet and salty cravings, and it’s easily transportable. One stick is only around 80 calories, full of protein and calcium. A pack is only around $2 so, when you’re looking for an easy, cheap snack, just say cheese!
  9. Greek Yogurt Since Greek yogurt is high in protein but low in sugar, it's a snack that will sustain you and keep you satisfied. You can purchase in different flavors or add some fruit, honey or granola to jazz up a plain flavor.
  10. Coffee Moderate amounts of the caffeine contained in coffee can help improve brain function, your reaction time, focus and attention span. However, this is only in moderation. If overdone, it can have adverse results. Also, skip the high sugar creamers. If you want to make your coffee a little sweeter, opt for natural sugars like agave or honey.
  11. Hummus Protein-rich hummus is good on pretty much anything – especially when you’re trying to spice up some veggies. If you go for the generic brand, it’s only around $4. Even better, make your own for under $2!
  12. Blueberries Simple as they may seem, these little berries pack punch when it comes to nutritional value. It's no wonder they're known as a superfood! In addition to the many nutrients and benefits, blueberries can even help prevent memory loss, increases motor skill function and learning capacity. Try them frozen for an extra treat!
  13. Whole Wheat Crackers or Pretzels Pair either with hummus or peanut butter and you’re good to go! Whole wheat is key here in order to avoid the unhealthy grains found in white crackers or regular-variety pretzels.
  14. Almonds A handful of almonds can sustain you for long periods of time. They're made from healthy fats and are a good source of protein (6 grams of protein in one ounce) - in moderation. One ounce of almonds also contains 14 grams of fat (even if it is the good kind). It's a great option as long as you make sure you don't overindulge or you may find yourself with some unwanted weight gain.
  15. Roasted Chick Peas If you find yourself craving some crunch, these are the perfect alternative to other crunchy snacks, like potato chips. Chick peas are great sources of protein and fiber. If you roast them in the oven, add a little salt and chili powder (for a spicy kick), and you’ll have made yourself one tasty treat!
  16. Dark Chocolate As long as you follow the "everything in moderation" rule, this snack can provide benefits that help with natural stimulation. Dark chocolate also can help with the production of endorphins, helping you conquer your tasks while boosting your mood.
  17. Eggs Easy to hard boil and take on the go, eggs are also inexpensive. They have the benefits of both protein and choline packed in, which both help improve brain function and memory.
  18. Avocado Technically a fruit, avocados have mono-saturated fats, which improve blood flow and can lower blood pressure. They're also a great source of Vitamin E. But, make sure not to overindulge - these are fatty fruits (even if they are good fats) so a quarter or half is more than enough for one serving.
  19. Peanut Butter Take yourself back to elementary school and make some snacks with peanut butter. Peanut butter and celery, peanut butter on rice cakes – the options are endless, nutritious and great for your student budget.
  20. Trail Mix This is a tricky one because some unhealthy snacks are disguised as trail mix. It’s probably best to make your own or find a healthy version with nuts and dried fruits. Portion control is also vital to make sure you’re not consuming a ton of trans-fats.

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