According to the University of Florida, your mom was wrong when she said snacking would ruin your appetite. In fact, eating a healthy snack a few hours before a meal can actually increase your appetite. It is also a myth that snacking means weight gain. Healthy snacks help regulate the blood pressure, keeping your energy level even throughout the day. When snacking, it is always a good idea to stick with healthy, whole foods, like fruits, vegetables or whole grains rather than chips, cookies or other sugary, fatty snacks.
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Fruit is a natural healthy snack choice, and also one that is convenient and highly portable. You can eat it a variety of ways, in a variety of forms, such as fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice or fruit purees (like apple sauce). Popular fruits include apples, oranges, pears, bananas, pineapple, mango, strawberries, blackberries and peaches. For snack ideas, try apples dipped in peanut butter or a handful of berries in a yogurt smoothie. Stuff grapes with whole almonds and toss with dried fruit to make a trail mix with a variety of textures.
Raw vegetables are just as healthy and convenient as fresh fruit. Examples include carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber slices, broccoli florets, pea pods, snap beans and bell pepper strips. For healthy snack ideas, try dipping a variety of vegetables slices in hummus. Toss several varieties of sliced vegetables with your favorite healthy dressing. Layer raw veggies on skewers to make vegetable kabobs or grill vegetables to eat in a wrap or pita.
Whole grains a re a healthy powerhouse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating 3 ounces of whole grain products per day. The American Heart Association recommends whole grains as part of a heart healthy diet. They are loaded with fiber and nutrients. Snack on whole grain cereals or cereal bars low in sugar. Make brown rice balls that you can pop in your mouth on the go. Have a serving of steel-cut oatmeal. Make a salad with brown rice, honey and sliced fruit.
Beans and Nuts
Beans and nuts are also heart healthy. Aside from being loaded with fiber, they are also rich in protein, iron and vitamins. Nuts are rich in heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated oils. For snack ideas, spread mashed, cooked beans over whole wheat pita slices. Make bean-based hummus for fresh vegetables. Eat a handful of unsalted cashews, almonds or peanuts. Toss some dried beans and nuts together to make a high protein snack mix. Spread some peanut butter on whole wheat bread.