HealthONE - July 25, 2019

It's normal to grab snacks that aren't very healthy. When we are hungry, often times the furthest thing from our minds is nutrition. We tend the grab the easiest, fastest thing we come across, without a thought. With a little planning, it’s not difficult to think of a snack that sounds delicious and is also healthy. Here are some wonderfully healthy snacks that are not only good for you, but delicious too. “The following foods may have a hand in promoting anti-aging effects by decreasing cellular damage when combined with an overall healthful diet and lifestyle,” said Kate Meadows, registered dietician at North Suburban Medical Center.

Savory salmon to help keep your skin looking young

Preparing a fiber-rich food such as a multigrain tortilla and a protein-rich food like salmon is one of the core principles if you want a healthy lifestyle snack. This combination can help you feel fuller longer because it takes your body more time to digest.

When fiber and protein are partnered together, they keep your blood sugar stable, which can help prevent unpredictable spikes in your blood sugar. “Consuming too many refined carbohydrates has been linked to inflammation which leads to oxidative stress and cellular dysfunction,” said Meadows. By consuming “anti-aging” snacks, it can help you both look and feel younger.

For a healthier gut, try mixing up your yogurt

Trade in your yogurt for an unsweetened Greek version that will have fewer sugars, no artificial ingredients, and more protein. The probiotics are also a plus as they are a healthy bacteria that may prevent infections in your gut, lessen allergies, and assist in the treatment of diseases such as Crohn's or IBD.

Mix these other healthful foods into your yogurt and turn it into a powerhouse snack:

  • Almonds: Putting these into your yogurt provides another filling, protein-fiber partner. All nuts can assist in lowering your risk of heart disease.
  • Berries: These contain flavonoids, a particular kind of antioxidant that may help improve memory as well as slow down the effects of dementia.
  • Chia: These seeds may be tiny, but they are powerful. Loaded with fiber, calcium, and omega-3s, they are considered a“superfood”.

“Keep in mind that “superfood” is a buzzword meaning the food is assumed to confer health benefits resulting from an exceptional nutrient density. This does not mean consuming large amounts or solely will prevent or cure conditions,” adds Meadows.

Matcha tea helps keep your mind sharp

A soothing Matcha tea made from whole green tea leaves that have been ground up and mixed in hot water make a great beverage. Matcha can help reduce stress and it has been used in meditation for many centuries. Individuals who have drank this tea, have said that is makes them feel very alert, yet relaxed. This may be due to the combination it possesses of caffeine and theanine, which is an amino acid that has a calming effect.

In addition, Matcha is a great source of antioxidants, which repair cell damage from toxic compounds referred to as free radicals. While repairing your cells, antioxidants also assist in protecting against many conditions, including heart disease. Experts believe that tea, in general, is a great source of antioxidants that can promote overall good health when consumed on a regular basis. “Antioxidants are compounds that are linked to protective properties when consumed via natural food sources. Supplements have not been shown to have the same effect,” said Meadows.

Indulge in dark chocolate to ward off obesity

Being overweight is known to increase inflammatory mediators and reduce levels of regulating hormones which increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A great source to help reduce inflammation is dark chocolate. But, make note here, not every bar of chocolate is healthy for you. Most chocolate is loaded with added sugar and fat. Choose dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao with minimal added sugar. As a general rule, the higher the percent of cacao, the more bitter the taste, but the healthier it can be for your body.

Eating a small square of dark chocolate can help curb those cravings for sweets, and keep you on track with a healthy lifestyle. This simple switch to dark chocolate can help reduce that risk. Dark chocolate has also been linked to help lower both high blood pressure and your LDL (or “bad” cholesterol). “Regular physical activity is the best way to decrease the incidence of obesity but making small changes in your diet can be just as significant,” said Meadows.

Homemade hummus to help keep your heart healthy

High in plant protein, pair with fiber-rich veggies and hummus tastes great as well being great for you. Smothering them with creamy, rich hummus is a good way to encourage yourself should you need a little extra motivation to eat vegetables. Extremely high in fiber, this snack can really boost your intake, which can lead to lower cholesterol.

Not a fan of hummus-yet? Try making your own at home. You'll be amazed how much better you like it. Store-bought hummus often comes made with preservatives and inexpensive oils that tend to change the flavor, making it less than desirable. Create your own by throwing these wonderful ingredients into your blender:

  • 2 cups of chickpeas
  • ¼ cup of tahini
  • Olive oil, garlic and lemon (to taste)

Dressed-up apple slices help you stay hydrated

For glowing skin and overall good health, you need to stay hydrated. All of your organs need water to properly function. If you don't properly hydrate, your skin can be dry and flaky. Wrinkles and pores may become more noticeable. You should drink a glass of water before every meal and eat hydrating snacks like fruit. Spreading nut butter on your apple, banana, etc will add heart-healthy fats and protein as well. You can also sprinkle flax or chia seeds on top to further boost your omega-3 consumption.