Though it’s appt to make you feel guilty, snacking is not necessarily a bad thing—unless, of course, your idea of a snack is a big bowl of chocolate ice cream, a bag of potato chips or a generous slice of carrot cake.
Healthy snacking can actually provide you with several benefits. It can keep you from second helpings at your next meal or prevent you from a hunger-fueled cookie binge. A snack also gives you a much-needed energy boost to get through the day and can be just the right amount of food to replace a meal if you’re older or less active.
When you snack, make sure you do so in moderation—eat a much smaller portion than you’d consume for a meal. And opt for food that gives you a nutrient boost, such as:
1. Air-popped, unbuttered popcorn. It’s crunchy, it’s tasty and it boosts fiber intake.
2. Hummus. The chickpea paste is loaded with fiber and makes a great topping for vegetables and pitas.
3. Low-fat yogurt. Get your share of calcium and protein, which can help keep your bones strong and healthy.
4. Peanut butter. Peanut butter serves up protein and vitamin E, an antioxidant that may prevent the oxidation of LDL, or bad, cholesterol and boost the immune system.
5. Carrots or red peppers. You’ll get vitamin A from carrots and beta-carotene from red peppers. Pair them with fat-free or low-fat dressing.
6. Oatmeal. Packed with fiber, this cholesterol-lowering staple isn’t just for breakfast.
7. Low-fat string cheese. The easy-to-carry snack offers calcium and protein.
8. Nuts. A handful provides protein, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer. And nuts contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Just make sure you don’t overdo them since they’re high in calories.
9. Fruits. Fruits take little or no preparation, so they’re convenient while providing dietary fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals.