The National Institutes of Health offers guidelines on making wise snack choices. Read your nutrition label if the snack is store-bought. If calories from fat make up at least half the total calories, avoid it. Also avoid foods that list sugar as one of their first few ingredients. Some other simple tips include keeping snacks at around 100 calories and choosing high-fiber, high-water snacks over high-fat or high-sugar snacks. Using these tips as a guideline, you can find find a variety of foods beginning with "D" that make excellent snack options.
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Whip Up Some Dip
Dips do not have to be unhealthy, although traditionally dips were often high-fat fare such as ranch, French onion or cheese-based creations, accompanied by potato chips and bread. But dips can make a surprisingly healthy snack. For the dipping component, exchange your bread and chips for fresh vegetables or whole-grain crackers. Use low-fat salad dressings or other store-bought dips that are labeled light or low-fat. You may also choose dips that have a slightly higher calorie count but offer additional health benefits of vitamins and minerals. These include bean dips, guacamole, hummus and even peanut (or other nut) butter. The all-around winner in the dip category is salsa, as it is packed with nutrition and is low in calories.
Remember the Dates
If you haven't tried dates, you may be in for a treat. Dates are a healthy snack choice as they are a good source of protein and fiber. They also have some B-complex vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium and zinc, while containing zero fats and sodium. Dates are a high-calorie food, however, with one small date containing 20 calories. As with any snack, the key to dates remaining a healthy snack is to eat them in moderation.
Another healthy snack is dried fruit. Raisins, apricots, cranberries and apples are examples of dried fruits that can easily be found in stores. If you choose, you could also dry your own fruit. The key to this snack, which is high in vitamins but also high in sugar, is to only consume dried fruit that has little to no sugar added. As always, consume in moderation, meaning a serving size of approximately 100 calories.
Dry cereal can actually be a great snack. It can be consumed alone or with low-fat milk. The key to making this a healthy snack is to choose whole-grain cereals that are high in fiber. Because many cereals have added sugar, the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggests purchasing cereals that have 35 percent or less added sugar, which is approximately 8 grams or less of sugar per serving.
Some dairy foods have a bad name due to their high fat content. But dairy is an excellent source of calcium and other minerals. To benefit from dairy products and enjoy them as healthy snacks, choose products that are low-fat or fat-free. If you snack on sugared dairy products such as flavored yogurt, buy brands that contain 30 grams or less of sugar per 6-ounce serving. Some dairy snack options include yogurt with fruit, low-fat cheese with whole-grain crackers or nonfat milk with dry cereal.