Heart-healthy snacks can be just as tasty and more satisfying than some of the foods we usually think of as snack foods. They can be a good source of fiber, lean protein, and/or healthy fats—all important for good heart health. Processed foods with added sugar such as packaged sweets and soft drinks can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Swap cookies, chips, candy, and ice cream for more nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, filling snacks suggested below. Your heart and your waistline will thank you!
If you love crunchy chips, an ounce of dry roasted, lightly salted, or unsalted nuts or seeds are delicious substitutes that provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds are all good options. Just keep an eye on the portion size!
An Orange a Day Helps Keep the Cardiologist Away…
When your inner cookie monster demands "COOKIES!" reach for a sweet, juicy orange instead. Oranges are loaded with potassium, which regulates heartbeat, controls blood pressure and fiber, and combats high cholesterol. Bananas and strawberries are also potassium superstars.
Eggsactly What You Need
Gone are the days when health care professionals warned that eggs were bad for you. If eaten in moderation, eggs have been found not to contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. You won't have to hit the vending machine if you have a protein-packed hard-boiled on hand. They are easy to prepare and keep well in the fridge for a week.
Smart Snack #1: Fiber + Healthy Fat
Fiber-rich foods help reduce cardiovascular disease, and the fats give you energy. Grab something fiber-forward like fruit, raw vegetables, whole grain crackers, whole wheat bread, or air-popped popcorn. Add a healthy fat like one-fourth of an avocado, two tablespoons of nut butter or hummus, or a small serving of nuts or seeds to keep you satisfied.
Smart Snack #2: Fiber + Protein
Pair a serving of fruit, raw broccoli, carrots, celery or peppers, or whole grain crackers or whole wheat bread with a protein such as water-packed tuna, low-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, a hard-boiled egg, an ounce of nuts, or a stick of string cheese. This snack will power you through a workout or an afternoon in the office.