Are you hungry and looking for a healthy snack? When reaching for a snack, the best thing you can do is choose healthy options that provide nutritional value.
1. Avoid Artificial Preservatives and Food Coloring
The first thing you want to avoid when buying snacks is to steer clear of prepackaged foods that are packed with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Most often, you will find this in sodas, candy, crackers, and baked goods.
While preservatives are meant to help prevent bacteria growth, food separation, and spoilage, they can have negative effects on your body. Foods with preservatives have been linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Preservatives to avoid include, sodium nitrites which are linked to an increased risk of colon and pancreatic cancer. Sulfites can trigger asthma attacks. And BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), which is commonly found in chips, cereal, and cookies may be a carcinogen.
Food coloring like Red No. 40 can be found in ice cream and dairy products, Blue No. 1 is found in sodas, icings, and candy, or Yellow No. 6 which is found in cereals, drinks, and snack foods have been known to cause health problems. Artificial food coloring is petroleum-based and has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, problems with kidneys and adrenal glands as well as behavioral issues. However, there are natural food coloring for commercial use that are safe for consumption.
When looking for a colorful snack next time you are doing your grocery shopping, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also buy dried fruit that doesn’t contain sugar or grab a box of raisins and some mixed raw nuts.
2. Avoid Snacks with Added Sugar
When looking at the ingredients on the next snack, you purchase. Make sure it does not contain sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, or dextrose. Instead of reaching for a pre-packaged snack that could be full of sugar and food coloring, head to the produce aisle of the grocery store.
When you are at the grocery store, avoid the aisles in the middle of the store that have the prepackaged snacks that are chock full of sugar. Instead, make your way over to where the fruits and vegetables. Choose to buy some carrots or fruits like strawberries and blueberries to snack on. Fruits and vegetables are naturally filling because they contain fiber and also provide other health benefits like Vitamins C and K as well as natural antioxidants.
3. Avoid Snacks that are High in Unhealthy Fats
While grabbing a bag of chips might seem like a convenient and tasty snack option, it is full of fat and unnecessary calories. There are options for healthy high-fat snacks that won’t cause you health issues.
Avocados are the best sources of potassium, and you can use them to make guacamole for a snack. Try dipping fresh veggies in the guacamole instead of tortilla chips.
Another healthy option is to snack on nuts like almonds, cashews, or walnuts. Nuts contain healthy fats and fiber and are also an excellent plant-based source of protein. They have been known to lower your risk of diseases like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Look into snacking on coconuts or coconut chips. Coconuts are the richest source of saturated fat. Did you know that the fat in coconuts is different than other fat? Your body metabolizes the fat in coconuts by going straight to the liver and turned into ketone bodies. Coconuts have been shown to suppress appetite, boost your metabolism and studies have shown it can benefit people with Alzheimer’s.
4. Avoid High Sodium Snacks
Next time you want a snack, make sure you avoid ones that are high in sodium from salt and other food additives (that can be found in processed foods). Salt is added to foods to enhance the flavor and make it easier to manufacture. According to the Dietary Guidelines of American, more than 90% of us consume too much sodium each day.
Salt is composed of 40% sodium and 60% chloride, and while it is essential to your daily diet, most of us are consuming more than is needed for a healthy diet. Consuming too much sodium can cause your blood pressure to rise, increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, and cause damage to your kidneys.
Next time you are looking for a savory snack, reach for grab some roasted chickpeas. You can roast your own chickpeas in the oven and add spices like paprika and turmeric. Chickpeas are full of protein, help with your digestion, and control your blood sugar.
Or snack on some kale chips which you can make by baking kale in the oven. Sprinkle your favorite spices before baking to add lots of flavor. Kale is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and helps promote bone health.
Next time you are at the grocery store looking for healthy snacks, make sure you look for ones that don’t add preservatives or food coloring, have minimal to no refined sugars, no refined grains, that are low in sodium and fat.