5 Unhealthy Snacks and their Healthy Alternatives

Snacking between meals isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you stick to rules like healthy snacks for work.
Snacking can help you incorporate essential vitamins and minerals into your diet. So whether you choose to eat oatmeal protein cookies instead of chocolate chipped cookies or greek yogurt instead of full-fat yogurt, this can make such a difference and provide you with the energy you need to get you through the day. By switching some of these commonly eaten snacks for healthier alternatives, you can increase your nutritional intake and avoid empty calories.

1. Switch milk chocolate for dark chocolate

Flavanols, a naturally occurring antioxidant found in various types of plants, are found in higher quantities within dark chocolate than in milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate contains more flavanols than other types of chocolate because of its high cocoa percentage. Flavanols assist the body by preventing free radicals from causing negative changes to body chemistry. They are also thought to lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.

2. Switch chips and dip for veggies and hummus

Potato chips are deep-fried in oil, which gives them their distinctive crispiness. High in fat and salt, pairing potato chips with unhealthy dips leads to an extremely high-calorie snack with little nutritional value. Creamy dips found in the grocery store are usually made with high-fat vegetable oils; the finished product mostly consists of fat. Hummus, on the other hand, is packed full of healthy garbanzo beans, which are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Hummus contains olive oil, a heart-healthy fat, and tahini, a sesame paste that gives hummus its creamy consistency. Paired with crunchy vegetables, this snack has greater nutritional value and fewer calories than chips and dips, while being delicious and satisfying.

3. Switch packaged trail mix for a homemade version

Many store-bought trail mixes contain salted peanuts, milk chocolate with artificial colorings, and dried fruit with added sugar. None of these ingredients are particularly healthy but trail mix can be a nutritious snack if you make it yourself at home. Combine raw almonds, dried fruit (make sure you look for a product without added sugar), and sunflower seeds for a healthy and tasty snack. This article ’21 Healthier Trail Mix Recipes To Make Yourself’ has some great ideas for making your own healthy trail mix.

4. Switch store-bought popsicles or ice cream for homemade ice pops

We know that popsicles aren’t high on everyone’s list of go-to snacks this time of year but ice cream is eaten year-round and popsicles are a healthier alternative. Store-bought popsicles are great for when you are craving a cold treat, but they are usually packed full of artificial food colorings and high fructose corn syrup. It’s easy to make your own ice pops at home using fruit juice with whole fruits, yogurt, and berries, or leftover smoothie mix. These ice pops are a great healthy snack alternative for kids too. One of our favorites is Greek yogurt with honey and fresh raspberries. All you need to make your own popsicles is a mold or an ice cube tray and small wooden sticks.

5. Switch regular yogurt for Greek yogurt

If you enjoy snacking on yogurt, switch to the Greek variety. Yogurt contains calcium and some varieties include active bacterial cultures, which may be beneficial for certain gastrointestinal conditions. Many have wondered whether yogurt is healthy and found that it to in fact be a very nutritional food. Greek yogurt is rich in protein, containing approximately 15 grams per 5 ounces compared to regular yogurt’s 9 grams per 6 ounces. Be careful when choosing your Greek yogurt, some varieties contain a large percentage of saturated fat. Choose a low-fat version but make sure the missing fat hasn’t been replaced by sugar!

Sources:
1. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-chocolate/AN02060 – Can chocolate be good for my health?
2. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120424/pick-dark-chocolate-health-benefits – Choose Dark Chocolate for Health Benefits
3. http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-flavanol.htm – What is Flavanol
4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/408455-benefits-of-chickpeas/ – Benefits Of Chickpeas
5. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2011/09/30/greek-yogurt-vs-regular-yogurt-which-is-more-healthful?page=2 Greek Yogurt Vs. Regular Yogurt: Which Is More Healthful?
6. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-yogurt – The Benefits of Yogurt

About SignatureMD:

SignatureMD (signaturemd.com), with offices in Los Angeles, California and Richmond, Virginia, is one of the nation’s largest providers of initial conversion and ongoing support services to concierge medicine physicians, with an expanding network of over 160 affiliated primary care physicians and specialists across 31 states.