Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to snacking. That’s why vending machines are so popular in workplace breakrooms. Convenient doesn’t always mean unhealthy, however. Try these six heart-healthy, energy-packed snacks that can satisfy your hunger and your taste buds. According to Carolinas HealthCare System Registered Dietitian, Michelle Musselwhite, there are specific things to look for in a healthy snack.
“Snacks should not be a source of salt, sugar, and fat,” she said. “Use snacks to provide nutrition that you are missing from your meals such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. And make sure you include protein to help give you a longer, sustained source of energy, control blood sugar, and decrease appetite.”
Aside from being low fat and low carb, unflavored Greek yogurt is high in muscle-building protein and a terrific source of calcium, potassium and probiotics – microorganisms that promote healthy digestion. Mix in berries or nuts for more flavor.
It’s old news to many at this point, but it bears repeating: not all fat is bad for you. Monounsaturated fat – the kind avocados are rich in – have a number of healthy benefits, including lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Slice an avocado and bring it to work. Your coworkers will be envious.
There’s a reason almonds are seemingly on every “superfood” list. High in monounsaturated fat, raw almonds keep you feeling full longer and provide a “slow release” form of energy to keep your blood sugar lower, which encourages your body to burn fat instead of storing it. To save money, buy in bulk and then put a handful in a plastic bag that you can take on the go.
Rich in nutrients, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is also a significant source of protein and is extremely low in fat. The “supergrain” is perfect for small salads you can eat at your desk.
Another nutrient-rich snack, edamame packs the fiber equivalent of four slices of whole wheat bread and contain 8 grams of protein per half cup. These fresh soybeans have long been a staple in Asian cultures due to their satisfying crunchy texture and nutty flavor. Pop a bag in the microwave for a quick snack you can share.
You may know that chickpeas are used to make hummus. But did you know roasted chickpeas make for a tasty and heart-healthy snack on their own? Simply toss them with olive oil and roast in the oven until crunchy (30 minutes at 375 degrees). Add a pinch of salt and you have a snack that stays crispy at room temperature for several days.