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A gut health dietitian shares her 4 favorite fiber-filled, minimally processed Costco snacks

Kim Schewitz   

A gut health dietitian shares her 4 favorite fiber-filled, minimally processed Costco snacks
  • When dietitian Megan Hilbert buys snacks she looks for minimally processed whole foods.
  • She buys most of her snacks at Costco because they're good value and healthy.

A gut health dietitian shared the four healthy snacks she buys on repeat from Costco.

Megan Hilbert, a registered dietitian who helps clients eat in a way that benefits the gut-brain axis, or the signaling between the gut and brain, eats a healthy diet with a focus on fiber and nutrients but also loves to snack.

When buying a snack, she tends to go for minimally processed, plant-based, whole foods, and products made with ingredients you'd find in a regular kitchen, and little or no added sugar.

"Typically the shorter that ingredient list, the better," Hilbert told Business Insider.

Around 73% of the US food supply is ultra-processed, according to a 2024 research paper by Northeastern University's Network Science Institute, which hasn't been peer-reviewed, and a diet high in UPFs has been linked to health conditions including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Research suggests eating a wide range of plants can help to cultivate a diverse gut microbiome — the trillions of microbes that live in the colon lining. Studies have found that a more diverse microbiome is a healthier one, and this is important because research increasingly shows that gut health is linked to overall health.

With this in mind, Hilbert always has nuts, seeds, and dried fruit on hand because they're convenient and healthy. She likes to buy them in bulk from Costco.

"I go through these types of things pretty quickly, and if you go to normal grocery stores, little bags of dried fruit and seeds can get really pricey," she said.

Some of Costco's items do contain additives and added sugar, like the dried mango, which she avoids, but there are plenty of minimally processed options, and that's why it's important to check food labels, she said. Here are her four favorite snacks from Costco.

Dried blueberries

Hilbert loves Costco's dried blueberries because they're good value for money. You can get a 20-ounce bag for $10.49, according to their website.

She goes for the dried version because they last much longer and provide pretty much the same health benefits as fresh berries, she said.

Blueberries contain fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in the gut, and anthocyanin, a chemical typically found in purple and blue foods that's associated with many health benefits. Studies suggest it could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease by managing blood sugar and reducing inflammation, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Pumpkin seeds

Hilbert's favorite type of seeds to buy at Costco are pumpkin seeds because they're nutrient-dense, and she loves the taste. A 22-ounce bag costs $12.99 on their website.

Pumpkin seeds are a really great source of fiber and healthy fats, she said. One ounce of shelled pumpkin seeds also contains 8.5 grams of protein, and they're high in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and potassium.

Seeds are considered plants alongside fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and spices, so adding them to your diet is a great way to boost your plant intake, she said.

'That's It' dried fruit bar

Hilbert and her partner are big fans of Costco's "That's It" fruit bars.

As the name suggests, they contain only dried fruit with no added sugar or other ingredients. They come in three flavors: strawberry and apple, mango and apple, or blueberry and apple. You can get a pack of 24 for $15.99 on the Costco website.

"These are really great, especially if I need a quick snack before a workout or even after a workout," she said.

Healthy carbohydrates such as fruits can help you perform better, she said, and the bars go well with a protein source like seeds.

Nuts

Like seeds, nuts are a good source of healthy fats and plant-based protein. They're a convenient and healthy snack, Hilbert said. She keeps packets of her favorite nuts in her desk drawer. The Kirkland Signature Organic range of nuts, which are Hilbert's favorite, have no added ingredients.

A 2023 study found that eating lots of nuts, as well as whole grains and fruit in middle age could add years to a person's life.

Hilbert's favorites are almonds, pistachios, cashews, and walnuts.


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