The food industry seems to have cornered the market on delicious options, particularly in the category of snacks. You can find snack options everywhere, and it's easy to reach for a bag of chips or a candy bar. However, many of these foods can lead to excess body weight and poor nutrition. Here are a few snacking choices that are healthier for you, while still providing satisfaction when you're feeling "snacky."
Sometimes, a snack attack comes with a craving for something with a crunch. Instead of reaching for chips, keep some whole-grain crackers in your pantry. Crackers can be used in a number of ways to satisfy sudden hunger attacks and yet provide important B vitamins and fiber for good health.
Made from chickpeas, hummus offers flavor and a healthy protein boost at any time of day or night. You can use it on a cracker or multi-grain pita chip. You can use it as a dip for cut vegetables or apple slices or a spread for whole-grain bread. Supermarkets carry snack-size portions of hummus to keep on hand at home or at your workplace.
Popcorn offers a bit of crunch you often crave in your snacks. It's a whole grain that provides plenty of fiber to help fill you up. Nutrients in popcorn include B1, B3, B6, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. If you avoid the buttery toppings, it is also a relatively low calorie option for snacking.
If you're always on the lookout for healthy snack options that don't need refrigeration, consider dried fruits. You can find many different types of fruit. Raisins, dried plums, apples, dates and apricots are just a few of the more popular choices. Avoid varieties that have sugar added.
Nuts and Seeds
For portability, you can't beat nuts and seeds. You can pack them easily into a purse or backpack. They contain many B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals, protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Spiced nuts are a tasty option that you can make to your own tastes, with cinnamon, chili pepper, cayenne and a bit of artificial sweetener, if desired. You can even make your own trail mix, including all your favorites while avoiding the highly sweetened items that are often included in store-bought mixes.
Berries and Cherries
Berries and cherries are also among the healthiest snack foods you can choose. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries pack plenty of vitamin C, antioxidant polyphenols and fiber. Cherries are rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium and iron. These are also easy to pack into a small container and take along to work, hiking, cycling or other activities.
Jerky has come a long way from the gas station variety of prepared snack foods. You can find jerky in a wide range of meats, seasoned in many different ways. Experiment with some varieties you haven't tried before. Jerky is a natural for low-carb diets, but make sure you avoid those with high sugar content.
Eliminating unhealthy snacks doesn't have to leave you feeling deprived and snackless. These healthier options provide some variety and plenty of nutrients to keep you going throughout the day.