You Don't Have to Skip Snacks for Health's Sake!
Health consciousness has been a phrase drilled into people's heads for decades now. Since we left an agrarian society during the nineteenth century and became much more urban, it has been difficult to maintain a healthy diet. Now with all of the alternatives to natural healthy choices, it is easier to clog your arteries and stop up your heart than ever. But, delicious and nutritious are not mutually exclusive. These heart healthy snacks will grow on you.
Healthy Heart Snacks for Life
Everyone knows by now that fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are what the body needs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people consume from five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Most of these have properties that enhance heart health. Lean meats are those red meats that contain little saturated fat, but also chicken and fish. It is okay to eat lean beef and pork occasionally, but they should be tempered with fish and poultry. Ground turkey is a great alternative to ground beef. Tofu is also a great source of protein, and can be either substituted or used to stretch meat.
Snacks are essential because we are grazers just like other animals. If there are not healthy snacks available between meals, then the tendency is to eat something filling. Filling usually means full of empty calories (white sugar and starches) that have a very negative effect on health. If plain vegetables or fruit don't tickle your palette, then add a healthy dipping sauce. Low fat yogurt, silken tofu, and low fat peanut butter can be used to liven the taste of bland vegetables. Humus is another great dipping substance that is made of chickpeas, which also adds protein.
For fruit, you can either use whole, sliced or dried preparations. Dried fruits make a salad much better. Cranberries can add something sweet and tart that is also a heart healthy alternative to bacon bits. Prunes, raisins and other dried fruits (apricots, apples) can be eaten by themselves, added to a trail mix, or cooked with other foods. It is also okay to eat some chocolate. Dark chocolate is very high in flavonoids which are concentrated antioxidants. Melt some dark chocolate and dip your fruit into it. Raisins are one of the healthiest snacks available. They can be mixed with other things, or eaten by themselves for another serving of fruit (just a quarter cup will do ya'.)
Some other heart healthy snack ideas that the kids are going to love (because they won't notice the difference) are to add pureed fruit to other recipes. Pureed prunes can be added to brownies (or other chocolate confections) to enhance the taste of the chocolate. It also adds fiber and flavor. Apple sauce can be used in place of some of the oil that would otherwise go into cookies or cakes.
Nuts are also great heart healthy snacks. A lot of research has been done on different types of nuts. Walnuts were found to have properties that help reduce cholesterol. Almonds have a lot of fiber and potassium. Pecans have loads of antioxidants. All of these nuts (along with the peanut which is really a root node) have very heart healthy oils.
All of these snack ideas are easy to make, and they provide a healthy alternative to cookies and candy. Make these available to yourself and your kids. You will not only lose a couple of pounds, you may just perk up your heart in the process.