Keep an eye on your snacking
Munch, munch, munch.
Americans are good about snacking, but perhaps not so good with how much they eat at snack time, or making healthy snack choices. Nutrition researchers study snack habits to see if the snacks help or hinder our health. The final verdict is still out but there are some hints about what we can do to improve our snack choices for good health.
University of Minnesota nutrition researchers investigated the snacking of 233 adults at a worksite. Seventy-four percent of the study participants were overweight or obese.
The usual habits of the study participants included eating two snacks per day that totaled 400 calories. Snacking in the afternoon was the top timeframe for munching.
The snack study results:
- All manners of desserts and sweets, chips and crackers and popcorn were snack favorites.
- Those who snacked on fruits and nuts had a diet that was more nutritious.
- Those who snacked on vegetables had a lower BMI or body weight.
- On the other hand, drinking sweet beverages at snack times was associated with a poorer diet nutritional quality and a higher BMI.
In this study, there did not seem to be a relationship between the total calories from the snacks or the number of daily snacks and diet quality or a higher BMI.
Bottom line: Fruit, vegetable and nut snacks seem to be important contributors to the nutritional quality of the daily diet and a healthy body weight.
Rethink the snacks that you bring home:
- Do they provide some nutritional value such as vitamins, minerals, fiber or antioxidants?
- Have fruits and veggies ready to go in the fridge for easy snacking.
- Cut veggies into grab-and-go pieces and store in an air tight container.
- Buy nuts when on sale and keep in individual baggies.
Healthy snack recipes:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.