Unfortunately, market research has shown that after fruit, the most common snacks are crackers, potato chips, ice cream, candy, popcorn, soft drinks, cookies and cakes. These type of ultra-processed packaged snacks often contain added sugars, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and excess calories, all at the expense of a healthy diet.
Even packaged foods with a healthy reputation often contain far more calories, sugar and fat than imagined. Take granola bars for example; According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 1.5-ounce granola bar can cost you 180 calories and contains 7 grams of fat, 2.6 grams of saturated fat, and more than 12 grams of sugar — not exactly the healthy snack you’d imagine.
So, are snacks good or bad for you? The answer may not be so cut and dried. Simply defined, snacks are a small amount of food eaten between the main meals of the day. But the food that makes up that snack could be anything from an apple to a cookie, and the nutritional benefits (or lack thereof) vary accordingly. Snacks are often viewed as unhealthy and a poor choice for anyone hoping to lose weight, however, registered dietitians point out that snacks can be an opportunity to add valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet while helping to avoid hunger between meals. – Which means you’ll likely eat less in your next session.
For healthy snacks, skip packaged foods and choose those containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, recommends the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Snacking’s bad reputation likely stems not only from what people tend to snack on (often highly processed foods with lots of added sugars and unhealthy fats), but also why and how they snack. While snacks can be used as a tool to keep you feeling full until your next meal, people often snack because of their habits or environmental cues (think popcorn in the movies). Even snacks are enjoyed simply because they taste delicious or out of boredom.
Preparing snacks at home from whole foods allows you to choose more nutritious ingredients. A well-planned, balanced snack should contain a source of protein and healthy carbohydrates (especially fiber), to keep you feeling full, according to MedlinePlus. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator during the day, preparing healthy snacks for school or work can be more complicated. This is where recipes for delicious and nutritious non-perishable snacks can come in handy. Here are 12 healthy snacks you can enjoy anywhere!