Does your energy dwindle during the day and you need something to nibble on? Adding healthy snacks can stop these cravings and help you get through the day.
More than a third of millennials snacks 3 times or more a day (1). In the US, 83% of adolescents snack at least once a day (2) while children consume around 3 snacks per day which comprise more than 27% of their total required calories (3).
Snacking can be important as it can keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent overeating during mealtimes. However, what we consume matters – eating a bag of crisps or having a sugar-coated doughnut does not exactly translate into a healthy diet. Instead, a mix of yoghurt, some chopped fruits can fill you up and boost your intake of essential nutrients. Stock up on the following foods:
1. Mixed nuts
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fibre, heart-healthy fats that can lower LDL cholesterol, magnesium that may prevent type 2 diabetes and vitamin E and also offers a great boost of energy. Just remember not to eat too many as they are high in calories. In addition, if you need to lower your salt intake, opt for the “no salt” option.
One ounce of nuts (1 serving):
Note: 1 ounce = 1 handful
18 medium cashews
12 hazelnuts or filberts
8 medium Brazil nuts
12 macadamia nuts
15 pecan halves
14 English walnut halves (4)
Raisins are cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and fat-free. They provide many necessary vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, calcium, and certain B vitamins. They are a good source of fibre and rich in antioxidants. They are also easily digested, for quick energy.
Try mixing raisins and mixed nuts for a great take-along. Although they contain high levels of fructose, they are a low-GI (causes a slower rise in glucose levels keeping blood sugars steady) food and could be healthy for those with diabetes when eaten in moderation (5). Also, check the labels and make sure it does not contain “added sugars”.
3. Boiled eggs
At only around 70 calories per egg, boiled eggs are rich in protein which helps to build muscle mass and are low in calories.
They also provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (MUFA and PUFA) that can stabilise your cholesterol levels which in turn reduces your cardiovascular disease risk. Two-thirds of the fats come from MUFAs and PUFAs.
High sources of vitamin A also promotes eye health as it is an essential component of a protein that absorbs light into the eyes.
Having an egg each day also increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin levels as they are found in the egg yolk which prevents age-related macular degeneration (an age-related eye condition) (6).
You can boil eggs in the morning, then when hunger strikes peel an egg for an easy, nutritious snack at work or at school.
Milk contains 9 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamins A, D, and B12, protein, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, and electrolytes. This powerful package of nutrients does more than just build strong bones. Quench your thirst with low-fat chocolate milk which will give you the sugar you need for energy, and the protein to sustain it making a perfect post-workout snack.
Athletes who drank low-fat milk after exercise had improved training times, more muscle, and less fat when compared to those who drank sports drinks (7). Furthermore, milk may be a better way in rehydrating children post-exercise than water (8).
Yoghurt is an outstanding source of protein (that contains all nine essential amino acids), calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins B6, B12, niacin, and folic acid. It contains just as much potassium as a banana does.
This special dairy product contains a lot of friendly bacteria (probiotics) that can boost your immune system and keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy (9).
You can mix yoghurt with fresh fruit for additional fibre intake. It is best to choose Greek yoghurt and watch out for flavoured yoghurts as they contain a substantial amount of added sugar.
Source: SELF Nutrition Data
Fruits are high in fibre and naturally occurring sugar, fructose. Some people may shy away from these sugars but studies showed that those who consumed fruits frequently have a lower BMI (10, 11). Eating fruits alone is nearly impossible to reach levels that are harmful to health as the fibre is present helps to slow down absorption and increases satiety. In addition, fruits tend to have high levels of vitamin C (an antioxidant), potassium, folate and other vitamins and minerals.
If you really want to lower your overall sugar intake, these fruits contain lower levels of sugars (per serving):
Tip: Cut up some pieces of fruit to add to your yoghurt for a nutritiously packed afternoon goody.