A warm snack on a cold winter day can help fill you and warm you up, but some snacks are healthier choices than others. Choosing a healthy snack does not have to mean sacrificing flavor, and there are many ways to make traditional snacks more waistline-friendly. When it is cold outside, reach for a healthy snack instead of something that will ruin your diet.
On a cold day, a bowl of steaming oatmeal helps warm you up, and also provides health benefits. The soluble fiber in oatmeal helps lower "bad" cholesterol, known as low-density lipoprotein. Soluble fiber also slows down the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream, reducing overall cholesterol levels. For added fiber and nutrients, add blueberries, bananas or raspberries.
A low-sodium soup is a nutritious snack choice and a tasty winter comfort food. A study done at Penn State University found that people who ate soup before lunch ate up to 20 percent less than those who did not eat soup. Avoiding cream-based, high-calorie soups makes this a healthy choice, and chunky, vegetable-filled soups can provide fiber and vitamins. Add a piece of whole-wheat bread or some whole-grain crackers to make this a nutritious winter snack.
While hot chocolate may not immediately come to mind when thinking of a healthy snack, there are ways to make this winter drink healthier. Choose a low-sugar or sugar-free cocoa mix, and use fat-free or 1 percent milk to cut calories and fat. If you are lactose-intolerant, you can use soy or rice milk as well. This drink provides calcium and vitamin D, and cocoa provides antioxidants that help protect cells against damage caused by free radicals. Cocoa has more antioxidants than teas and red wine, says a study published in the December 2003 "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry."
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are simple to make, easy to clean up and make a convenient snack that also provides nutrition. Sweet potatoes contain a large amount of beta-carotene, which helps the body make vitamin A, and they contain fiber, vitamin B-6, potassium, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. You can sprinkle cinnamon or a little bit of brown sugar on top of the sweet potato, or cut it into strips to make sweet potato fries.
- MayoClinic.com: Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers; May 7, 2010
- Penn State Live: Eating Soup Will Help Cut Calories at Meal; Apr. 25, 2007
- "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry"; Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity Than Teas and Red Wine; K.W. Lee, et al.; Dec. 3, 2003
- San Francisco Unified School District: Harvest of the Month: Sweet Potatoes; 2007