A healthy snack can boost your energy levels and reduce hunger enough to tide you over until the next meal. Fruits and vegetables are common choices for nutritious snacks, but plenty of other options can also help you meet your nutrient needs while satisfying hunger. Look for nutrient-dense snack foods that are low in unhealthy fats and sodium.
Whole-grain cereal, such as high-fiber bran cereal or shredded wheat, can be a ready-to-eat snack, or you can eat it with skim milk. For a warm option, try oatmeal. Whole-grain products are natural sources of dietary fiber, iron and magnesium, and choosing them instead of refined grains can help you control your weight and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Store a box of cereal at work for when you need a quick snack, or keep the box at home and carry single servings in little containers with you. Select unsweetened varieties to limit your consumption of added sugars.
Peanuts and Nuts
Nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews and macadamia nuts, are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and sources of vitamin E and dietary fiber. Peanuts are legumes due to their biology, but they are more nutritionally similar to tree nuts, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Peanuts and nuts are high-calorie, with about 160 to 210 calories per ounce, so monitor your portion sizes carefully to avoid unwanted weight gain from snacking on them.
Yogurt provides high-quality protein as well as vitamin B-12 and calcium, which is an essential mineral for building and maintaining bone mass. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are in yogurt and some other fermented products; they may alleviate colitis and prevent diarrhea. Choose fat-free yogurt to limit your intake of saturated fat, and avoid flavored yogurts that contain added sugars. Dip whole-wheat crackers into yogurt, or make a salad with diced chicken breast, plain fat-free yogurt, chives and pepper.
Hard-boiled eggs are convenient, high-protein snacks that you can prepare in advance. Essential nutrients in egg yolks include vitamin D, iron, vitamin A and vitamin B-12. Egg whites are not high in these nutrients, but they are fat-free and cholesterol-free. Eat your hard-boiled egg on its own, or for a more substantial snack, eat it with lean turkey breast or low-fat string cheese. Discard the yolk and eat only the white if you are on a low-cholesterol diet.
Popcorn is a whole-grain food that is fat-free and contains only 31 calories per cup. Limit the sodium content by eating your popcorn plain or salting it only lightly. Adding butter to you popcorn adds calories and saturated fat, and partially hydrogenated vegetables oils can supply unhealthy trans fats. Have some nonfat cottage cheese to increase the protein and calcium content of your snack.