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Snacking: It’s Good for Your Heart Health

 

Snacking--Good-for-your-Heart-health-featured-image

 

When you think of the word “snack,” what comes to mind? Potato chips? Cookies? A bowl of ice cream? Despite the many unhealthy snack foods available in supermarkets, snacking can actually be good for you! And since 94% of Americans eat at least one snack each day, it’s important to choose snack foods that are good for your heart and your waistline, and that can help you manage your blood sugars, too.

Benefits of snacking

Eating too much, whether at snack time or mealtimes, can lead to a variety of health problems, including weight gain, high blood sugars and high cholesterol. On the other hand, there are benefits to eating a snack or two (or three) during the day. These include:

  • An increase in nutrient intake, especially from fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • More even blood sugar levels
  • Possible lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Reduced hunger and a decrease in appetite
  • Weight control

Remember, however, that calories still count. Snacking wisely (healthfully) means staying within your total calorie goal for the day and choosing snack foods that don’t have too much saturated fat, sugar or sodium. In addition, be careful not to overdo snacking by eating mindlessly while watching television or spending time on the computer.

Healthy choices

Think about snacks that make sense for you and for the way that you eat. For example, if there is a long stretch of time between lunch and dinner, it might make sense for you to have a snack midafternoon. Talk with your dietitian about the best ways to fit snacks into your eating plan. In the meantime, consider the following heart-healthy options.

If you crave something crunchy, choose:

  • Apple slices or celery with peanut butter
  • Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus
  • Radishes and broccoli spears dipped in light Italian dressing
  • Unsalted rice cakes spread with almond butter

If you crave something to munch on, choose:

  • Light-style popcorn – try popping your own and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
  • Unsalted almonds or walnuts mixed with raisins or dried cranberries
  • Baked tortilla chips with salsa
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes with edamame (green soybeans)

If you crave something sweet, choose:

  • Frozen banana slices
  • Frozen grapes
  • Any kind of fresh fruit
  • Berries (fresh or frozen) mixed with plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt

To control carbs and boost protein, choose:

  • A hardboiled egg
  • Greek-style plain yogurt – stir in some chia seeds or ground flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cottage cheese
  • String cheese
  • Laughing Cow cheese wedges or Babybel cheese
  • Sliced turkey breast rolled around cooked or raw green beans
  • Cut-up raw veggies – for a change, try jicama, zucchini or cauliflower

 

 

Amy Campbell MS, RD, LDN, CDE (87 Articles)

Amy Campbell MS, RD, LDN, CDE is an experienced health, nutrition and diabetes educator and communicator with more than 25 years of experience within the healthcare sector. Amy has extensive expertise in editing and writing for patients, consumers and healthcare professionals; public speaking, teaching and group facilitation; project and account management; and content and curriculum development.

 

She is currently the Director for Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures LLC, a Health Professional Advisor at the Egg Nutrition Center, and a blogger/Writer for Madavor Media.

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