Healthy Snack - Nutritional Balance - Freedom Health Centers

Typically the word “snack” doesn’t conjure visions of nutritional greatness. But some believe snacking should be as important as breakfast. In the fast-paced world we live in, often the only criteria we have for our between-meals eating choices are that they are quick and easy. But the quick and easy choices we make usually equate to empty-calorie foods like candy or chips. Snacking is a necessary part of a balanced diet, but requires that we take the time to plan healthy choices to achieve optimal nutritional balance. The UCLA Center for Human Nutrition states that, “When done right, snacking keeps your energy levels up and gives you more opportunities to get in all your nutritional needs.” nutrition experts recommend that you strive to intake just enough calories to sustain you until your next meal. A 100-calorie snack should last you for about an hour. Here are six healthy snack options that can boost your daily stores of vitamins and nutrients and won’t leave you feeling empty or disappointed.

Nutrient-Rich Foods

Nutrient-rich foods are great snack options because of the benefits your body receives from eating them. Some examples of nutrient-rich foods are: beans, sweet potatoes, and kefir.

  • Beans. They contain large quantities of nutrients and phytonutrients some of which help protect you from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers. They do all this while also building and repairing muscle. Beans are loaded with fiber and are high in low-fat protein. The protein-fiber combination of this snack will help you feel fuller longer.
  • Sweet Potatoes. They are packed with more nutrition than most of the vegetables you could choose from. Sweet potatoes are a fat and cholesterol free food choice and low in calories. Their high potassium and vitamin A properties contribute to a healthy heart and better vision. Leave the skins on to add more nutrition to each bite.
  • Kefir. A less known snack option, Kefir is packed with protein, B12, riboflavin, magnesium, and folate. What is it? Kefir is a slightly carbonated liquid yogurt made from cow, goat, sheep, rice, coconut or soy milk. Like yogurt, it provides probiotics to promote healthy digestion and a stronger immune system.

Combos of Protein and Fiber

Snacks that combine lean proteins, fiber and some healthy fats are great combination snacks. By combining these elements together you will feel fuller for longer. This is because both protein and fat activate the release of stomach hormones to help you feel satisfied. Protein also slows your insulin production. Too much insulin contributes to more stomach fat. Fiber slows digestion also helping you to feel more full. Some examples of great snack combos are:

  • Two tablespoons of hummus and a cup of baby carrots
  • oatmeal with nuts and cinnamon
  • a hard-boiled egg and half cup of grapes
  • low-fat cottage cheese, a quarter of an avocado and a tablespoon of raisins
  • low-fat Greek yogurt and a cup of berries
  • a half cup of high-fiber cereal and skim milk

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are powerful, on-the-go snack options. They provide you a healthy mix of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. According to, almonds are the lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce (23 nuts; 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat), followed by cashews (16 to 18 nuts; 5 grams protein, 13 grams fat) and pistachios (49 nuts; 6 grams protein, 13 grams fat). Sunflower seeds provide nutrients like vitamin E, folate, thiamin, niacin, and iron. They also contain plant chemicals–phytochemicals–that reduce cholesterol levels, keep your cells healthy, help move food through your intestinal tract and prevent certain cancer-producing carcinogens from forming. That is one powerful seed! The protein nuts and seeds provide will stave off hunger pains while providing you healthy, monounsaturated fats. They are packed with calories so just make sure you don’t eat them in large amounts.

Low-fat Dairy Products

Low-fat dairy snacks are rich in nutrients that help build strong bones, sustain a healthy immune system and promote good digestion. Dairy is also a good source of protein and also contains several essential minerals and vitamins, including calcium and vitamin D. Some snack options for you to choose from are greek yogurt, coconut milk, vitamin D-fortified milk, cottage cheese, and low-fat cottage cheese.

Whole Grains

Whole-grain snacks are great snack choices because of their high fiber content and their abundance of complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will help fill empty energy stores while the fiber will aid in digestion and help you feel fuller longer. Good whole grain snack options include: popcorn, low-fat whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels and whole-grain crispbreads.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are heralded for their abundant nutritious benefits. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber. The added bonus of choosing fruits and vegetables as your snack choices is that they provide a feeling of fullness with a small number of calories. Fruits and vegetables that are most talked about for their nutritious benefits are: peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, bok choy, asparagus, and beets. Fruits and vegetables can easily be combined with protein sources like yogurt, low-fat cheese, hummus, cottage cheese, and peanut butter for a more powerful snack option.

Call for a Nutritional Assessment

When patients visit us in McKinney to learn more about their nutritional needs, we use numerous testing methods to give them a complete picture about their food-related health. Professional nutritional assessment takes your goals into account, whether you are trying to lose weight or increase muscle building as an athlete. It is much smarter to adjust your diet with testing and the help of a team of medical experts in the McKinney area rather than trying to guess the right balance of carbohydrates and proteins on your own. We can devise a diet that corrects nutrient imbalances, works around your chronic conditions and medications, and helps you reach your fitness goals. You can walk out of our office confident that you can eat better without depriving yourself of the occasional treat. Planning a visit with our team is easy because our McKinney location makes our office easy to access no matter where you live in the area.

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