When hunger strikes, especially if you are not eating well, to begin with, cravings can lead to making lousy snack decisions. Instead of having something healthy, like mixed nuts or yogurt with berries you may grab chips and drown it with a coffee.
The snack choices that we have presented below will keep you satiated, and they are easy to prepare.
- Brazil Nuts
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pine Nuts
If you would like to get technical, here is an interesting article on the health benefits of nut consumption.
One ounce of mixed nuts contains 173 calories, along with 5 grams of protein not to mention other essential elements like fat, a few carbs (6 grams), and fibre (3 grams). One ounce of mixed nuts also contains several vitamins and minerals that your body needs:
- Vitamin E – 12% of your recommended daily intake (or RDI)
- Magnesium – 16% of your RDI
- Phosphorus – 13% of your RDI
- Copper – 23% of your RDI
- Manganese – 26% of your RDI
- Selenium 56% of your RDI
Protein is an essential element in your body, as it is used to build and repair tissue. It also uses protein to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. In fact, protein is an essential building block for bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood.
There are many more amazing benefits of protein – too many to list here, but if you would like to learn more here is a excellent article on the topic.
Nuts also contain antioxidants, which help control free radicals. Free radicals, of course, are unstable molecules that the body produces as part of the metabolism process. Although research is still ongoing on the effect of free radicals in the body, one theory suggests that “organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time” (source Wikipedia).
Believe it or not, nuts can also help you lose weight even though they are considered a high-calorie food. Almonds, for example, have been shown to promote weight loss. Another study also found that pistachios may be helpful for weight loss (for more information see here, here and here).
Nuts are also known to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Of the nuts listed at the top of this article, pistachios have been shown to significantly lower triglycerides in people that are obese and in diabetics. It is believed that due to the high content of monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids is why nuts are a cholesterol-lowering powerhouse.
But the cholesterol-lowering benefits don’t end there. Almonds and hazelnuts also appear to reduce your bad cholesterol (known as LDL cholesterol) and increase your good cholesterol (known as HDL cholesterol).
If you are Type 2 Diabetic or deal with Metabolic Syndrome, then nuts are your go-to snack. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 2 Diabetes affects hundreds of millions of people, for some, it is hereditary though nowadays it is due to being obese. For people with diabetes, the advantage of nuts over other snacks is that it will not raise blood sugar levels significantly and in fact could reduce blood sugar levels.
Numerous studies also suggest that eating nuts may lower oxidative stress and blood pressure.
Nuts can also help reduce inflammation. What is inflammation? It is your body’s way of defending itself from injury. A report found on the US National Library of Medicine found the growing realization that chronic inflammation causes and advances many common diseases.
We are told by health professionals to increase fibre; you can take supplements or grab some nuts. Yes, nuts are also high in fibre. Fiber has the added benefit of improving your gut health plus helping reduce the risk of diabetes and becoming obese also it will make you feel full.
What nuts contain the most fibre per 28-gram (or 1-oz) serving?
- Almonds: 3.5 grams
- Pistachios: 2.9 grams
- Hazelnuts: 2.9 grams
- Pecans: 2.9 grams
- Peanuts: 2.6 grams
- Macadamias: 2.4 grams
- Brazil nuts: 2.1 grams
The evidence is overwhelming, several studies published by the US National Library of Medicine indicate that because of the benefit to cholesterol levels, LDL particle size, artery function and inflammation nuts can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Finally, let’s just get to it – nuts are a versatile, and delicious snack. They are also widely available and can sit on a shelf for an extended period. You can buy nuts individually and make your mixed nut bowls or buy them pre-made.
They are also available salted, or unsalted, seasoned or plain, raw or roasted. There is something for every taste bud. You can also dry roast nuts at home, so you can control what you put in it.
Red Bell Peppers
If you would like something a little sweet that also packs high amounts of antioxidants consider red bell peppers. Red bell peppers contain high levels of antioxidants, and they are rich in Vitamin C – in fact, they provide over 300% of your daily Vitamin C requirements! They can be eaten as-is or added to a salad (careful on the dressing).
Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries
Berries contain high levels of antioxidants, combined with a dense, yogurt which is high in protein you have the best of both worlds in one easy to prepare snack. Your body needs calcium and potassium, and not everyone likes to drink milk – eat your way to your daily requirement instead with greek yogurt and berries. This combination is also low in calories, but high in protein.
Apples and Peanut Butter
We all grew up eating PB&J; apples are also a low-cost and healthy snack. Why not combine both? Apples and peanut butter provide you with fibre and antioxidants that improve gut health and reduce heart disease risk.
It has also been shown that peanut butter may increase HDL cholesterol and lower LD cholesterol – if you remember HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad cholesterol.
Dark Chocolate and Nuts
I am not a big fan of dark chocolate, maybe because I usually eat it by itself, however, the better way to enjoy it is by pairing it with almonds.
Dark chocolate contains flavanols that may lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk. Chose a dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa solids.
There are many other snacks that you can enjoy, that all take very little to prepare and are delicious and offer a variety, so you don’t get bored:
- Fruit – natural, not complicated and it can be incredibly satisfying!
- A bowl of cherry tomatoes
- Chia seeds (add it to your Greek yogurt) – they are loaded with fibre and also high in antioxidants
- Hard-boiled eggs – topped with a little salt and black pepper. Eggs are incredibly filling, and with Omega 3 enriched eggs available in most grocery stores you get the advantage of decreasing the risk of heart disease, inhibiting the growth of prostate and breast cancer and delay the loss of immunological functions (read more here)
- Carrots – if you don’t mind cutting them up yourself, this is another excellent crunchy snack. Carrots are also high in carotenoids which may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and cataracts. If you are rushed, you can buy baby carrots (these are regular carrots cut down to size)
- Cheese – who doesn’t like cheese? A slice or two of cheddar cheese with your carrots and a hard-boiled egg will pack a punch and keep you feeling full
- I enjoy olives, and will usually take a dozen or so as a snack to work regularly. A staple in the Mediterranean diet, olives can fight inflammation, reduce insulin resistance in diabetics and may help decrease the risk of cancer
- Although avocados go great on toast, you can also slice them up and add a bit of salt to them for a great light snack. You can even spice them up with some cayenne pepper. You don’t want overly ripe avocados otherwise they will not slice easily and will turn “mushy.”
Snacking does not need to be overly complicated and some of the best snacks are items you can easily find in any grocery store. The versatility of these snack make them good regardless of the time of day – whether you need something to keep you going during the day, or something light before you head to sleep.