Choosing Healthy Snacks in a Rush Can Be Difficult
In today’s busy, fast paced world most of us are working, studying, rushing around with the kids, etc. etc. When hunger pangs hit we just don’t have the additional time to sit down and consider the calorie count or amount of saturated fats in the food we’re snacking on between meals. We all just need to eat something quickly and efficiently on the go. In our speeded up lifestyles, this is the case all too often and can lead to making poor choices. Common snacks like potato chips, cheese crackers, sugared soda and sports drinks, candy bars, and the like aren’t the best choices for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For this reason I compiled a list of 10 healthy snacks you can keep around for those times when you need smart nutrition in a rush and don’t have time to make a healthy choice.
1. Fresh or Dried Fruits: Fresh fruit and dried fruit are both great options for healthy snacking. Dried fruit obviously lasts longer but you lose some of the vitamin and mineral content. Both options contain plenty of antioxidants and fiber. The big thing here is storage time. If you eat a lot of fruit it may be sensible to keep fresh apples, bananas, or oranges, etc. in your desk. However, dried fruit also has a much longer shelf life, yet only loses a small percentage of its vitamins and minerals during the dehydration process.
2. Nuts: Nuts offer a variety of health benefits specifically for the heart. Nuts also contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients like l-arginine which is a substance that can improve the strength of your artery walls, helping them stay flexible and preventing blood clots or blockages. Nuts are also inexpensive, easy to store for long periods of time and come in a variety of types so find your favorite. Whether it is walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, . and store some at the office for a quick and healthy snack.
3. Trail Mix: Trail Mix can be healthy specifically when it’s a combination of dried fruit and nuts. However, trail mixes that contain a large amount of sugared chocolate or types of candy can be very unhealthy. Trail mix should be eaten in small portions in relation to other healthy items like fruit or vegetable juices. Large portions of trail mix are high in calories so be sure you don’t go too heavy on it if it’s one of your healthy snacking options.
4. Whole Grain Crispbreads: Whole grain crisp breads or as they’re more affectionately called, “crackers”, can be another great healthy snacking option to have on hand, if they are made with little to no added sugars, oils, and preservatives. To add flavor, try to pass on high calorie toppings like full-fat cheese. Some healthier alternatives include cottage cheese and thinly sliced cantaloupe. You can also dip your multi-grain “crispbreads” in hummus or baba ghanoush, or add fresh basil and tomato slices which also boosts your intake of vitamin C.
5. Whole Grain Cereal: Whole grain cereals include grains such as wheat, barley, oat, rye, corn, rice, millet and triticale. Wholegrain cereals are a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and zinc. Wholegrains also contain lignans which have been shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, and slow or reverse cancers in animals. You can make your own version of a healthy dry cereal mix by adding dried fruit and nuts and storing in airtight containers for longer freshness.
6. Mini Rice Cakes: Mini Rice Cakes have virtually no calories and for this reason are a great item to top with other foods such as fruits, spreads, or peanut butter. They also contain fiber and a small amount of vitamin content. Overall eating rice cakes on their own is probably not the most healthy practice as they are basically a starch that contains a high amount of carbohydrates. They are however, one of the best and lowest calorie types of bread / cracker available to top with other healthy items though.
7. Tuna / Salmon / Sardines: Fish like Tuna, Salmon & Sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids that actually help to BURN fat by altering levels of a hormone in your body called “leptin”. Several recent studies suggest that leptin can directly influences your metabolism and send signals about whether your body will burn calories or store them as fat. Sardines keep for a long time in cans as does tuna. Salmon can be a bit more difficult but if your office has a fridge all of these types of fish are high in protein, as well as other vitamins and minerals that are great for your health.
8. Peanut Butter (or other Nut Butters): Peanut butter contians a large amount of protein and potassium — which can lower the risk of high-blood pressure – and also stroke and heart disease. Peanut butter also has healthy fats, Vitamin E and several antioxidants. It’s a great topping for you to use with other healthy snacks on this list as well. For example, spread it on a slice of apple or a mini-rice cake.
9. Vegetable Juices: Need a drink to have with one of your healthy snacks? Vegetable juices retain most of the vitamins and minerals of their whole versions. For this reason a glass of vegetable juice could be the most healthy beverage you can ingest during the day. Be sure and look for low sodium versions, as this is often a hidden ingredient that is not so healthy. Most groceries and mini marts stock freshly bottled vegetable juices in tasty combinations now. Rotating these into your beverage choices instead of sodas is probably one of the best health habits you can ever adopt.
10. Dark Chocolate: Bonus! In small portions Dark chocolate can be very healthy. It contains anti-oxidants and has also been shown to lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Everyone gets a sweet tooth now and then and dark chocolate is one of the most healthy and sensible ways to satisfy that craving. Look for a higher percentage of cocoa in your chocolate (60% and up) and it will have less sugar and more of the “good” parts of the cocoa bean in it.