Snack Swaps: Healthier Alternatives to High-Sugar Favorites: American eating is a national pastime. Snacking more frequently during the day is something many of us would rather do than eat three square meals.
However, we risk doing a huge disservice to ourselves (and our health) if we aren’t selective about the snacks we eat. When it comes to the nutritional value of our meals, snacks are king.
Fortunately, you can still savor snack time while taking excellent care of your health if you learn to substitute nutritious foods for your snacks.
The importance of smart snack choices
Snacks have the power to improve your diet and bring extra health benefits, or they can tempt you to overindulge in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and sodium.
For instance, depending on the kinds of snacks you eat, snacking can either aid in appetite management and weight maintenance or even lead to weight gain.
Another factor that can impact mental health is snacks. As an example, research suggests that eating fresh fruit is associated with lower rates of anxiety, sadness, and emotional discomfort when contrasted with eating chips.
How can you tell if the snacks you eat are good for your mental and physical health instead of bad? The trick is to swap out junk food, which is low in nutrients, with nutrient-rich snacks when snack time rolls around.
5 healthier snack swaps
Sadly, most snack foods contain an unhealthy amount of sugar, salt, harmful fats, and refined carbs. However, when we’re snacking, we should avoid foods that are heavy in sugar and salt.
When it comes to snacking, we’re all a little bit weak. Some people prefer fruit candies, while others prefer potato chips. You can probably find a healthy substitute for your favorite snack food that won’t compromise your health, no matter what it is.
Continue reading to learn about 5 snack options that are better for you.
1. Instead of potato chips‚ choose kale chips or baked veggie chips
While fried potato chips may be tempting, they are actually quite unhealthy due to their high salt, saturated fat, and carbohydrate content and lack of nutritional value. Consider baking some vegetable chips instead; they’re much better for you.
To whip up a batch of homemade kale chips, simply tear the leaves, mix with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake until slightly crunchy. For a homemade batch of veggie chips, simply use a mandolin to thinly slice some vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, carrots, or beets), combine with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake until the slices are thin and crisp.
You can satiate your appetite for crispy chips while also increasing your intake of healthful vegetables with these selections.
2. Instead of crackers‚ try sliced cucumber rounds
Typically prepared with white flour, crackers are essentially empty calories that might lead to a rise in blood sugar levels and other health problems. Cucumbers are a great alternative to refined grains since they have the crunchiness of a cracker without the unhealthy fats and calories.
Cucumbers, like crackers, can be eaten plain, topped with nutritious dips, or used as an appetizer base for smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers.
3. Instead of fruity candy or fruit snacks‚ go for whole fruit
Sweet treats like fruit chews, sour gummies, and hard candies are easy to incorporate into your regular diet. In reality, though, they are merely sugar in a variety of forms.
Fruit snacks aren’t necessarily better for you, even though they appear like a healthier choice. Despite appearances, gummy fruit snacks aren’t always a healthy option because of the extra sugars they typically contain.
Rather, opt for actual, uncut fruit. Snack on some grapes, peel an orange, or bite into a crisp apple. On hot days, try frozen grapes for a delightful treat.
4. Instead of French fries‚ try baked sweet potato fries
Although French fries are a popular food in the United States, they have been associated to a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes.
Instead, you could bake your own sweet potato fries.Compared to potatoes, sweet potatoes are a better source of nutrients like polyphenols and beta-carotene. After slicing the sweet potatoes, combine them with olive oil, salt, and any spices you choose. Roast in the oven until they become golden and crunchy. For a satisfying and healthy snack, eat when warm.
Remember to still keep an eye on your portion control. Consuming an excessive amount of sweet potatoes, like potatoes, can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels because they are starchy foods.
5. Instead of a chocolate candy bar‚ try a few squares of high-quality dark chocolate
The cocoa beans used to make chocolate are rich in several beneficial elements. To make matters worse, most chocolate candy bars contain almost any chocolate. Rather, they are a very processed kind of chocolate that mostly contains sugar and milk.
But the delicious chocolate flavor is still there, and you won’t even miss the chocolate candy’s drawbacks. Eat a few squares at a time from a high-cacao, low-sugar bar of premium dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipids, thanks to its high cocoa bean content and antioxidants.
The bottom line
Because of their delicious flavors, snacks are usually hard to say no to. These foods make it difficult to maintain a balanced diet, and we often end up consuming more of them than we should. However, proper nutrition is something that the majority of us genuinely desire. For the most part, all we care about are the foods that we enjoy, which means they should be tasty, satisfying, and nutritious.
Happily, it is possible to have the finest of both worlds. Snacking on delicious, visually appealing, and filling meals that are also good for you is possible. All you have to do is take it easy, think about healthier snack options, and be more deliberate in your future decisions.
Picking nutrient-dense snack foods that support, rather than hinder, your health goals is essential. Think about the healthy snack options listed above, make sure you have a few on hand, and then try something new the next time you’re hungry!