Easy Snacks for Heart Health
Most of us can’t resist a little pre-lunch nibble, a mid-afternoon nosh, or maybe just something sweet a couple hours before bedtime. Snacking seems to be an American pastime. Some of us like grazing on smaller meals throughout the day, while for others it’s a habit to grab a handful of this or that between meals. Either way, you want to make sure you’re reaching for heart-healthy snacks.
A lot of us are trying to eat healthier at mealtimes. We might start our day with a piece of fruit, or add more whole grains or vegetables to our plates at dinner. But snacks are the mini meals that can be unhealthy for a lot of us. They’re often based on convenience – a donut grabbed from a box at the office, a candy bar from a vending machine, or a bag of chips and a soda scarfed down between phone calls. If your snacks are often ultra-processed foods like this, all those calories from fats and sugar can add up in some very unhealthy ways. So it’s time to do your body a favor by focusing on snacks that are good for your heart.
Boosting your heart health. Why is snacking with a healthy heart in mind so important? In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 700,000 people in this country die from heart disease each year, making it the culprit for one in every five deaths.
Snack smarter. Having an unhealthy diet and being overweight put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease. Switching snacks to include more nutritious foods is one way to eat better for a healthier heart. Here are some tasty ideas for improving your daily snacks, from the American Heart Association:
- Munch on snacks that crunch: Raw veggies are not just for salads. Baby carrots, strips of colorful peppers, fresh green beans and snappy pea pods are all refreshing snacks that fill you up.
- Air-popped popcorn: Shake on a flavorful seasoning and enjoy some whole-grain goodness that is good for you.
- Mixed nuts: Pour out a handful of cashews, walnuts, almonds or pecans. Or add in sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a good-fat mix that will take the edge off your hunger until mealtime.
- Whole grain toast: Spread it with a little hummus, peanut butter or almond butter for a fast fill-up.
- Freeze a whole banana, then spread it with a spoonful of peanut butter.
- Make a fruit salad: Slice an apple or mango into chunks, then add fresh berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Easy parfait: Layer fresh blueberries or strawberries with low-fat yogurt.
- Mash a whole avocado, add your favorite seasoning and spread it on a slice of whole-wheat bread or a pita.
- Slice tomatoes and cucumbers into a bowl and douse with vinaigrette.
- Create mini tuna sandwiches: Pair a whole wheat cracker, a spoonful of tuna and some low-fat cheese.
For easy access to healthy recipes, use your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices, with MIBlue (pronounced “My Blue”) from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
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