Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What Makes a Healthy Snack?


Who doesn’t like to snack?   Some snacks, like fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts can add valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber to the typical diet which is lacking in those nutrients.  Most other snacks such as chips, pop, candy and baked goods can add unhealthy amounts of white flour, sugar and extra calories to the typical diet which is already too high in those foods.

So how can you tell what a healthy snack looks like?  Let’s explore:

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
These foods add a great deal of health to our diet. An apple, some grapes, some baby carrots or celery- how hard is it to add these foods?  For most of us, it is only a matter of planning ahead.  If someone takes the responsibility to get the carrots out of the fridge into a bowl, or to cut up a few apples, or put a bowl of fruit out, the response is usually that those snacks will be eaten and enjoyed.  Will you be the one to help your family?

Whole Grains
Whole grains are important to heart health.  Most of us need to work on getting the recommended 3 servings of whole grains daily.  How do you know if a food is whole grain?  Read the first ingredient- it should say “Whole oats” or “Whole wheat flour” or another whole grain.  “Wheat flour” or “enriched flour” mean white flour, not such a healthy choice.

Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and Seeds are proven to add healthy fats and fiber to provide a satisfying snack.

2 gm Fiber
We need at least 25 gm of fiber daily, but most of us get 12 gm or less.  This nutrient is linked to better heart health, lower weight and lower risk of some cancers.  Fiber is in all fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and is listed on labels.  A good snack contains 2 gm or more of fiber.

Less than 150 Calories
Those of us who try to eat healthier, know we have to constantly work to control calories.  This work is blown away if our snacks are not controlled.  Keeping a snack to less than 150 calories helps keep the daily total to a reasonable level.

Less than 8 gm Added Sugar
The new labels, which you should start seeing soon for packaged foods, will include the grams of added sugar.  Most of us know that added sugar is bad for our health.  Check out labels for gm of added sugar and try to keep it as low as possible.  8 gm is the equivalent of 1 tsp of sugar.