Healthy snacks can be hard to find, especially when you come home from work after a long day and just feel like eating junk food for a quick fix. But have no fear! There are more and more healthy snack options today than ever before. This article will shed light on some new products and ideas to help beat those horrible cravings. And instead of leaving you with a sugar crash, you will feel clean and energized.
1. Coconut Chips
Yep, coconut is now in a “chip” form! Why try these? Coconut chips are made from a nutrient-dense superfood – coconut – and are naturally full of flavor! Some brands take fresh slices of young coconut and roast them until they have this perfect crunch. Watch out for brands that have too many ingredients, though. My favorite are the kinds that include just three things: coconut, cane sugar, and salt! I would describe coconut chips as not too sweet, slightly savory, creamy and refreshing; they are super tasty. Lastly, a quarter of a cup contains about 4% of the average recommended daily iron intake.
Coconut has a high content of saturated fats. Saturated fats are very important for our health and even our brain function. In fact, saturated fat composes 50% of our cellular membranes and plays a necessary role in strengthening our cell walls and protecting the inside of each cell.
If the coconut chips you snack on were prepared with virgin coconut oil, they would be considered even more healthy for you. Virgin coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat, and because of this can actually speed up weight loss, lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of a heart attack.
Walnuts are something I have recently discovered and are super good for your heart. You really only need a quarter to a half cup to start feeling full. Not only are they high in omega-3s, but new research has suggested that the omega-3 ALA may help heart arrhythmias, and a 2006 Spanish study suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal.
3. Ginger Chews
Ginger has long been thought of as a powerhouse for your body. Not only will it fire up your digestive juices, improve the absorption of essential nutrients in the body, and reduce nausea, but it can even help reduce joint pain with its anti-inflammatory properties. Confused about which ginger snack to try? Try starting with mango-flavored ginger – it’s decadent.
Ginger may also help increase insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers from the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
4. Dried Mangoes
Dried mangoes have limited calories and are super tasty! Mangoes are also rich in polyphenols. Mango polyphenols, like other polyphenolic compounds, work mainly as antioxidants, a property that enables them to protect human cells against damage due to oxidative stress leading to lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and many degenerative diseases. Of the many polyphenol antioxidants in the mango, the most studied and popular one is called mangiferin. Mangiferin is a special polyphenol in the mango that continues to attract much attention because of its potential to combat degenerative diseases, like heart diseases and cancer.
Just make sure to buy your mangoes without sulphites. Sulphites are regulated food additives that are used as preservatives to maintain food color and prolong shelf life, prevent the growth of micro-organisms, and to maintain the potency of certain medications. Many people who consume sulphite products experience unpleasant side effects (which is why the government is making a law that states all products with sulphites have to be labeled: “May contain sulphites”). For example, do you ever get wheezy and experience asthma-like symptoms when you eat dried fruit? You may not even realize this but it could be the sulphite preservative!
5. Apple with Almond Butter
Almond butter is very rich and creamy, just like peanut butter, and tastes amazing with apples. The sweetness of apples is quite complementary to the nutty flavor of almond butter. Also, with this snack you will be getting some protein and fiber. In fact, did you know that almond butter has more fiber than peanut butter? Pretty great! Lastly, almond butter has a low glycemic index, meaning it will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep you feeling full longer. This is crucial because regular blood sugar spikes and drops slow down your metabolism.
6. Veggie Sticks
Heard of these before? Basically, they are vegetable chips. These are to die for and are definitely one of my new favorite snacks! It’s also amazing how many nutrients are shoved into these little chips. Indeed, Veggie Stix are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, D, and B6, and a good source of vitamins E and K. If you have problems with digestion, you may want to consider upping your vitamin B6 intake as it is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions associated with your metabolism. Vitamin B6 is also involved in brain development during pregnancy and infancy, as well as immune function.
Veggie Stix are also made with all natural ingredients: potatoes, tomatoes and spinach, pure sea salt and non-hydrogenated oils. That means 0 grams of trans fat and the chips have 30% less overall fat than regular chips! Wahoo!
7. Chocolate-covered Roasted Inchi Seeds
Heard of Inchi seeds? You have now! What’s so special about these power seeds is that they have 17 more omega-3s per ounce than wild sockeye salmon – that’s insane! Indeed, they are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 on the planet.
So, how can these Amazonian seeds have such a high antioxidant level? It’s all in the roasting process. Inchi seeds are roasted at a low temperature to preserve their high omega-3 content. Then the unmatched combination of taste and nutrition – that’s also gluten-free and packed with complete protein – makes them the perfect healthy indulgence. Lastly, you can often find this seed in many delicious flavors; my favorite are those covered in chocolate.
8. Sliced Tomatoes Sprinkled With Feta and Olive Oil
This snack will definitely make your taste buds happy. If you don’t like feta or olive oil, you can always sprinkle another type of cheese on top, or a light salad dressing.
Professor Teruo Kawada and his team of researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Function of Food in Kyoto have found a substance in tomatoes called 13-oxo-ODA, which is a special type of unsaturated fatty acid. This chemical was found to help decrease the amount of neutral fat in your body and prevent metabolic syndrome from setting in.
9. Dark Chocolate (90% Cocoa)
I know, I know, most of you think dark chocolate is gross, but I have discovered a way to mask the bitter flavor while still getting all the health benefits: buy a brand that has coconut flakes mixed in!
Dark chocolate is really good for your health because it has a low glycemic index, lots of antioxidants (antioxidants fight free radicals and damaged cells, preventing cancer), and can even improve your mood. Dark chocolate contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. According to Natural Highs, a book on supplements and nutrition, this is because chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.
10. Hummus Dip with Vegetables
If you are unsure what hummus is, it can contain many different ingredients but the base is always chickpeas and tahini, a sesame seed paste. Chickpeas are nutritious because they do not contain any cholesterol or saturated fat, and are rich in protein. Furthermore, they are also known to be quite effective in preventing build up of cholesterol in your blood vessels. Apart from that, chickpeas also help to maintain the correct blood sugar levels. By preventing that blood sugar spike, you will actually feel full longer! All you need is some vegetables to dip in and voilà – a filling, healthy snack to help you get through the day!
11. Celery and Peanut Butter
Celery is an undervalued vegetable. It is loaded with nutrients and contains almost no calories – one large stalk has maybe 10 calories. Celery is great because it can lower your blood pressure, 100g contains about 8% of your RDI of vitamin A (great for your eye health), it aids in digestion because it’s high in insoluble fiber, and it even lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol). One Chicago University research study showed that just two stalks of celery a day can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 7 points.
12. Zucchini Pizza Bites
I know, I know, when you hear the word “pizza” the last thing on your mind is health. However, there is nothing wrong with sprinkling some cheese and tomato sauce over zucchini and baking bite-size zucchini pieces for 30 minutes. Cheese is high in calcium, and most people don’t realize that zucchini is high in vitamin C, which protects your cells from free radicals (damaged cells that can lead to oxidative stress in the body – and possibly cancer).
Zucchini is also high in two phytonutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, which belong to the carotenoid family, the same nutrient family that includes beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. In fact, the American Optometric Association notes that intakes of at least 6 milligrams per day can reduce your risk for age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes blindness. A cup of chopped zucchini provides 2.6 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin, or 43% of this intake goal.
13. Strawberries Dipped In Yogurt
Just dip some strawberries in yogurt, then put them in the freezer for 20 minutes and voilà! Easiest snack ever! If you want to go even more healthy, try using Greek yogurt. Not only does Greek yogurt have half the sodium of regular yogurt, but it also has more protein – about 20 grams of protein per serving, whereas regular yogurt provides around 11–13 grams. Greek yogurt’s high protein content makes it a favorite among people trying to manage their weight as it helps ward off hunger.
14. Pickles In a Blanket
If you’re like me and love pickles, why not try “pickles in a blanket”? Pickles are a great snack as they are low in both fat content and calories – after all they are just pickled cucumbers, and cucumbers are loaded with goodness. The typical dill pickle wedge contains less than one gram of fat and four calories. While the pickle won’t knock your socks off in regards to calories or fat content, it will pack a punch with its vitamin K content. One pickle slice contains as much as 20% of your daily vitamin K requirement, which is known to prevent blood clots after injuries. Pickles also contain sodium, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Note, however, that the odd brand is high in sodium, so don’t consume too many.
If you aren’t sure how to eat pickles in a blanket, why not try wrapping them in salami or turkey with a bit of cheese? Yum.
15. Edamame Sprinkled With Sea Salt
In case you don’t know, edamame is the Japanese word for sweet, green soybeans. They are harvested at the point when the beans are well developed but still soft and green. In North America, they are most often served hot with sprinkled salt; however, in Japan they are often chilled before serving.
Edamame make such a great snack and are super tasty! Not only do they contain both protein and essential trace minerals, but according to an article published in the Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition, soy isoflavones (plant-based chemical similar to estrogen) play a role in your gut microflora and thus digestion. Furthermore, phytoestrogens help lower cholesterol, according to MedlinePlus, and research published in the March 2012 issue of Menopause indicates that they reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
So there you have it: 15 fantastic healthy snacks you should always have at home. Snacking should be fun and never boring. Hopefully these snack options make you realize how simple and tasty eating healthy really can be.
Featured photo credit: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home via eco-savy.com