Let’s face it, besides our three main meals, there are always those extra little indulgences throughout the day. Denying yourself food will only make you crave it more, so instead of making yourself feel guilty about snacking, just accept the fact that you will probably want a little extra something in between your meals.
Once you’ve accepted this, you can plan accordingly and snack to your heart’s content. There’s nothing wrong with snacking (in moderation) – in fact, it actually has some great health benefits.
Health benefits of snacking between meals
Snacking keeps your metabolism working throughout the day. You burn calories while you eat, so by consuming smaller amounts more frequently you will be burning calories more efficiently.
A few hours after your meal, your body’s blood sugar level goes down, this causes you to feel tired and listless. Regular little snacks throughout the day can help keep you alert.
Research has also shown that snacking can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks. When you eat a big meal your heart has to pump extra blood. By keeping your meals smaller your heart will not be overworked.
This all sounds great, doesn’t it?
But wait, before you go rushing to the nearest vending machine, remember that the health benefits of snacking are dependent on the quality of the food you are eating.
Clearly, candy bars loaded with sugar and trans fat will not lower your cholesterol or have any of the above mentioned benefits to your health, so choose your snacks wisely.
Ten healthy (but tasty) snack options
Bananas are a great source of potassium and vitamin B6. They are easy to digest and contain plenty of fiber and carbohydrates, making them a perfect energy boosting snack to help you get through those last few dreary hours at work.
Natural yoghurt is a first class source of calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong. Don’t worry, full fat yoghurt is not the cause of obesity in the world, so enjoy it in its full creamy state. You can sweeten it with natural honey or eat it as it is.
Sure, chocolate mars bars are bad for you, but natural dark chocolate (containing at least 70% cocoa solids) is full of antioxidants, magnesium and iron. It has also been known to reduce high blood pressure.
Peanut butter on (whole-wheat) bread
Yes, peanut butter is high in fat, but it’s unsaturated (good) fat. Peanuts are rich in protein (good for vegetarians), fiber and vitamin E. Make sure you pick a peanut butter that isn’t full of added sugar and salt, or better yet buy peanuts and make it yourself.
Almonds and dried apricots
Almonds are high in protein and fibre, plus they’re a good source of magnesium and vitamin E. Dried apricots provide you with potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus and vitamin C.
Avocados, like bananas, contain lots of potassium, and can help to lower cholesterol. They are full of vitamins, (vitamins C, K, B6) and minerals.
Apples and pears
Apples are high in vitamin C and pears are high in potassium. Both are rich in fiber and water content, so they will keep your thirst quenched and your belly full.
Tuna is a great source of protein. It’s rich in a variety of nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, and potassium; the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6 and of course the omega-3 essential fatty acids, which provide a number of cardiovascular benefits.
Although it’s not quite the same as munching on something when you’re hungry, a fruit smoothie makes a great snack and is preferable to fruit juices because it contains the juice of the fruit as well as the pulp, which is full of fiber. Make your own smoothies if you can, in order to leave out the sugar/additives.
Celery and hummus
Celery is rich in vitamin C, and chick peas contain iron and protein as well as vitamin C. So enjoy the crisp celery stalks dipped in spicy hummus.
- Kidshealth.org. “Healthy Snacks” (accessed January 31, 2011).
- Womenfitness.net. “Healthiest Snacks” (accessed January 31, 2011).
- Real buzz.com. “Top Ten Healthy Snacks” (accessed January 31, 2011).
- WHFoods.com. “Tuna” “Avocado” “Celery” (accessed January 31, 2011).