The word ‘snack’ often conjures up images of potato chips, cookies and snack cakes. The 1 ounce, single serving bags of these commonly eaten snacks have been replaced with larger 2 ½ oz bags. Sadly, most of us consume the whole bag and disregard the number of servings, as well as the calories, fat and sodium. Fortunately, these are not the only foods available for snacking and really should be limited to just now and then. Eating too many high calorie, high fat snacks can lead to obesity – increasing the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. Diets high in sodium have been linked with increased risk of high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. No thanks!
As Americans, most of us don’t meet the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Population studies done by the USDA consistently reflect inadequate intakes of fruits and vegetables in children, as well as adults. The good news is that diets containing lots of fruits and vegetables have been linked with reductions in heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancer. With the variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, there’s no excuse not to eat them all year round.
Snacking on fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve your diet and reduce the incidence of chronic diseases. Nutritionists consider fruits and vegetables “powerhouses” since they pack lots of nutrients in very few calories. Below are some simple tips to get more produce in your diet.
Healthy Snacking Tip #1
Keep fresh fruit available and in sight. Place a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter and grab a piece the next time the urge to snack grabs you.
Healthy Snacking Tip #2
Stock your freezer with frozen berries. Frozen berries can be added to smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt for a quick, nutritious snack.
Healthy Snacking Tip #3
Keep some grape tomatoes, baby carrots and celery sticks on hand for a crunchy, grab and go snack. Dip in hummus to boost fiber and protein intake.
Healthy Snacking Tip #4
Pack some frozen veggies in your lunch for a low-calorie, high fiber boost. Frozen vegetables are flash-cooked prior to freezing, and take just 90 seconds to cook in a microwave.
Healthy Snacking Tip #5
Place red or green grapes in the freezer for a quick cold treat and skip the ice cream.
Healthy Snacking Tip #6
Try fresh asparagus or snap peas with low-fat ranch dip the next time you crave a salty, crunchy snack.
Healthy Snacking Tip #7
Add raisins, dried dates or dried plums to nuts, Cheerios and pretzels for an easy trail mix.
Healthy Snacking Tip #8
Buy and eat fruit when it’s in season. Apples taste better in the fall and winter months. Strawberries are best from May to July.
Healthy Snacking Tip #9
Add frozen spinach or chopped peppers to your vegetable dip. It adds color and boosts the vitamin C content.
Healthy Snacking Tip #10
Be adventurous! If you haven’t tried a new fruit or vegetable in a while, give it a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.