Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Combos Snacks Bad For You?



Short answer

Combos Snacks are high in sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars, which can contribute to heart disease, hypertension, and other health issues if consumed frequently. They also contain artificial flavors and colors linked to health risks such as allergies and hyperactivity. While they offer a quick source of energy, it's best to enjoy Combos in moderation and consider healthier snacking alternatives to support overall wellness.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content Analysis of Combos Snacks

Understanding the nutritional content of Combos Snacks is key to assessing their impact on your diet and overall health. To break it down, we'll look at the main nutritional components found in these popular snacks, highlighting calories, fats, carbohydrates, sodium, and any other significant nutrients. This analysis draws on the original manufacturer's nutritional information to ensure accuracy.

Firstly, a standard serving size of Combos Snacks, which is about 1 ounce or 28 grams (approximately 1/2 cup or a small handful), contains the following on average:

  • Calories: 140-150 kcal
  • Total Fat: 7-8 g, with saturated fat making up about 3.5-4.5 g of this total. Trans fat is typically 0 g, reflecting efforts to reduce harmful fat content.
  • Carbohydrates: 17-19 g, with 1-2 g coming from dietary fiber and 3-4 g from sugars (including added sugars).
  • Protein: 2-3 g, a modest contribution to daily protein intake.
  • Sodium: 310-330 mg, which accounts for about 13-14% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults, indicating a high sodium content.

While nutritional values can vary slightly between different flavors and product lines, these figures provide a solid baseline for comparison. It's important to note that Combos Snacks are designed as a processed, convenient snack rather than a health food. The relatively high levels of saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars are areas of potential concern for individuals monitoring their intake of these nutrients.

Research suggests that diets high in saturated fats and sodium can increase the risk of heart disease and hypertension (hypertension). According to the American Heart Association, reducing intake of these components is critical for maintaining cardiovascular health. Additionally, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize the importance of limiting added sugars to less than 10% of daily calories, indicating that frequent consumption of foods high in added sugars, like some snack foods, could contribute to adverse health effects, such as obesity and diabetes.

In contrast, the protein content in Combos Snacks, while not negligible, is relatively low, which is typical for snack foods but means they are not a significant source of this important macronutrient. The dietary fiber content also leaves room for improvement, as dietary fiber plays a crucial role in gastrointestinal health and regularity.

In conclusion, while Combos Snacks provide a quick source of energy and satisfy cravings for savory, crunchy treats, they should ideally be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The high sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar content align with the characteristics of many processed snacks, underscoring the importance of mindful eating and nutritional diligence.

Artificial Flavors and Colors in Combos: Potential Health Risks

Combos, a popular snack enjoyed by many for its variety of flavors and textures, contains artificial flavors and colors, ingredients that have raised concerns among nutritionists and health researchers. Understanding the potential health implications of these additives is crucial for informed consumer choices.

Health Implications of Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavors are chemical compounds designed to mimic the taste of natural ingredients. While they are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by regulatory agencies, there is ongoing debate about their long-term health effects. Some studies suggest that certain artificial flavorings could contribute to health issues such as allergies, asthma, and behavioral problems in children. For example, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found a link between certain artificial flavors and allergic reactions.

Health Concerns Linked to Artificial Colors

Artificial colors, widely used in snacks like Combos to enhance visual appeal, are among the most controversial ingredients in the food industry. Various studies have suggested a possible connection between artificial colors and an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. A meta-analysis in the Lancet concluded that certain artificial colors could exacerbate hyperactivity in sensitive children. Moreover, some food dyes have been connected to cancer in animal studies, leading to a call for more comprehensive human research.

Regulatory Perspective

Despite these concerns, regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to approve the use of various artificial flavors and colors, within specific limits. However, the European Union takes a more cautious approach, requiring labels to warn of possible adverse effects on children's behavior from certain artificial colors.

Ingredients to Watch

  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6
  • Blue 1
  • MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) - often used in savory flavored snacks and associated with the flavor enhancer role, though not a color, is a common artificial flavoring agent with debated health effects.

Considering the potential health risks associated with artificial flavors and colors, individuals, especially those with sensitivity or underlying health concerns, should be mindful when consuming products containing these additives. Opting for snacks with natural ingredients and colors might be a safer alternative for those looking to minimize their exposure to artificial substances.


While enjoyed by many for their convenience and flavor, Combos snacks contain artificial flavors and colors that could pose health risks. Understanding these potential risks and making informed dietary choices can help mitigate the impact of these additives on health. For those concerned, seeking out snacks made with natural ingredients could offer a safer, equally satisfying alternative.

Trans Fats and Sodium Levels: Heart Health Implications

When exploring the potential heart health implications of popular snack foods, such as Combos Snacks, two critical components warrant our attention: trans fats and sodium levels. An understanding of how these elements impact heart health is essential, especially for individuals striving to maintain or achieve a heart-healthy diet.

Trans Fats: Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that can be naturally occurring or artificially made. While the former is found in small amounts in animal products, the latter, known as partially hydrogenated oils, have been widely used in the food industry for their ability to improve texture and extend shelf life. However, the consumption of trans fats has been strongly linked to an increased risk of heart disease, as they raise levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while lowering good cholesterol (HDL).

In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps to reduce the amount of artificial trans fats in the food supply. As a result, many snack foods have reformulated their recipes to eliminate or significantly reduce trans fat content. Nonetheless, it's crucial for consumers to read labels carefully to identify any remaining trans fats, which might still be lurking in certain products.

Sodium Levels: Sodium is another key factor to consider when assessing the heart health implications of snack foods. High sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, with an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams per day for most adults.

Snack foods, including Combos Snacks, are often high in sodium, making it easy for individuals to exceed the recommended daily intake. Frequent consumption of such snacks can contribute to a higher sodium intake, elevating the risk of developing hypertension and subsequent heart health issues.

It's imperative for consumers to be mindful of the nutritional content of their snack choices, particularly focusing on trans fat and sodium levels. Opting for snacks with no trans fats and lower sodium content can be a positive step towards maintaining a healthier heart. Additionally, incorporating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds into one's diet can provide more nutritionally balanced snack options.

Ultimately, awareness and moderation are key. By understanding the constituents of snack foods and their implications for heart health, individuals can make informed dietary choices that support cardiovascular well-being.

High Fructose Corn Syrup in Combos: Metabolic Concerns

One of the critical ingredients to consider when assessing the health impact of Combos snacks is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose, making it sweeter than regular corn syrup. Its inclusion in many processed foods, including Combos, has raised concerns among nutritionists and health experts due to its potential metabolic effects.

Studies have linked high consumption of HFCS to insulin resistance, a stepping stone towards type 2 diabetes. The mechanism is understood to relate to how the body metabolizes fructose. Unlike glucose, which your cells utilize broadly for energy, fructose is primarily processed in the liver. In high amounts, it can lead to liver overload, promoting the development of insulin resistance (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004).

Another significant concern is its impact on obesity. The consumption of HFCS has been associated with increased body fat and abdominal obesity. Notably, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that beverages sweetened with HFCS lead to increased visceral fat, a type of body fat linked to heart disease and diabetes.

HFCS also contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition characterized by excess fat build-up in the liver in people who drink little to no alcohol. Research in the Journal of Hepatology suggests that diets high in fructose can significantly contribute to the development of NAFLD, echoing concerns about the metabolic impact of HFCS in foods like Combos.

  • Insulin Resistance: Consumption of HFCS can lead to the body's decreased ability to respond to insulin, a crucial hormone for blood sugar regulation.
  • Obesity and Abdominal Fat: High intake of HFCS is linked with an increased risk of developing obesity, particularly in the form of dangerous abdominal fat.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Diets rich in HFCS have been associated with the development of NAFLD, a major concern for metabolic health.

Considering these points, it's essential to understand the potential risks associated with HFCS in Combos snacks. While enjoying them occasionally may not pose a significant health risk to individuals with an otherwise balanced diet, awareness and moderation are key to managing their impact on your metabolic health.

Comparing Combos to Healthier Snack Options

When assessing the health impact of snacking choices, it's valuable to compare popular snacks like Combos to their healthier alternatives. This perspective not only reveals the nutritional differences but also guides us toward making more informed dietary decisions. Here, we will examine how Combos stack up against several nutritious snack options, focusing on key nutritional aspects such as calorie content, fat, sodium, fiber, and protein levels.

Calorie Comparison:
A standard serving of Combos (about 1 ounce or 28 grams) typically contains around 140 calories. In contrast, a serving of raw vegetables such as carrots or bell peppers is markedly lower in calories, offering about 25 to 50 calories. This significant difference illustrates how opting for whole, unprocessed foods can aid in managing calorie intake more effectively.

Fat Content:
Combos are known for their high fat content, with a single serving providing around 7 grams of fat, which includes 3 grams of saturated fat. Alternatively, a handful of almonds, despite being rich in healthy fats, also serves a generous dose of vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber, offering a more balanced nutrient profile than the predominantly saturated fats found in Combos.

Sodium Levels:
One of the most considerable concerns with Combos is their sodium content, which can reach up to 310 mg per serving. A healthier snack option like lightly salted popcorn can provide the crunchy, savory satisfaction with as little as 95 mg of sodium per serving, making it a better choice for heart health.

Fiber and Protein:
Fiber and protein are crucial for feeling full and satisfied between meals, yet Combos offer little in this regard, with less than 1 gram of fiber and around 2 grams of protein per serving. In comparison, a small apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter can provide about 4 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, supporting better digestion and sustained energy levels.

To visually summarize these nutritional disparities, consider the following comparative table:

Snack Option Calories Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Sodium (mg) Fiber (g) Protein (g)
Combos (1 oz) 140 7 3 310 <1 2
Raw Vegetables (1 cup) 25-50 0 0 Variable 2-4 1-2
Almonds (1 oz) 164 14 1 0 3.5 6
Lightly Salted Popcorn (1 cup) 31 0.4 0 95 1 1
Apple & Peanut Butter (medium apple + 1 tbsp) 95 8 1.5 0 4 8

This comparison elucidates the vast nutritional differences between Combos and more health-conscious snack selections. It serves as a vital reminder of the importance of considering nutrient density and overall quality of our snacking habits to support our health and wellness goals.

Frequently asked questions

Combos snacks typically contain wheat flour as a primary ingredient, making them unsuitable for individuals following a gluten-free diet.

Most Combos snacks are high in sodium to enhance flavor. Currently, there are no specific varieties marketed as low-sodium, so it's important to read nutritional labels if you're monitoring your sodium intake.

Due to the high content of saturated fats in Combos snacks, frequent consumption can potentially raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, contributing to cardiovascular health concerns.

For a healthier savory snack option, consider choosing lightly salted nuts or air-popped popcorn. These alternatives offer better nutritional profiles with lower sodium and higher fiber and protein content.

Ask a question about Combos Snacks and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood pressure
  • cravings
  • allergic reactions
  • behavioral changes

Possible long-term side effects

  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • insulin resistance

Ingredients to be aware of


  • quick energy
  • satisfies cravings

Healthier alternatives

  • raw vegetables
  • almonds
  • lightly salted popcorn
  • apple with peanut butter

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

HIPPEAS Chickpea Puffs

  • Vegan White Cheddar
  • 3g Plant Protein
  • 2g Dietary Fiber
  • Gluten-Free Snack
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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 07-08-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 07-08-2024

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