Choose Snacks Wisely

With a little planning and preparation, you can have healthy snacks ready when the temptation strikes.

A wide variety of snacks can fit into a healthy lifestyle. If you plan to snack, focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense choices. Consider these:

  • Whole grains. Whole grain snacks include energy from carbohydrates and are a good source of fiber. Chose low-fat, whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels or unbuttered popcorn. A sandwich with one slice of whole-grain bread and a one-ounce, low-fat protein source is a great choice.
  • Dairy foods. Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium and protein. Remember to choose low-fat versions to keep the calorie count lower. Cheese, yogurt and milk are good choices. Some low-fat yogurts may be higher in sugar, so choose the light versions. Limit cheese to a one-ounce serving and milk and yogurt to a one-cup portion per snack.
  • Fruit. Fruits are full of vitamins and minerals and do not contain fat. A typical serving size only contains about 60 calories. Choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits. If you choose canned fruits, always purchase the light or "packed in its own juice" items to eliminate any added calories from sugar. Be careful of fruit juices. They contain extra sugar and calories and are typically not good sources of fiber.
  • Vegetables. Vegetables can be very filling because of the fiber content. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are very low in calories. Always keep some raw veggies on hand for a snack attack. Eat with salsa or low-fat dips.
  • Proteins. Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein which helps keep you feeling full longer. They also provide a very heart-healthy fat source. Nuts and seeds are very high in calories, so be careful you don't eat them in large amounts.
  • Fats. Fats add calories to our food. When choosing a snack, try to stay under 3 grams of fat per serving.