Healthy Snacks for a Healthy Heart

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Having a healthy heart is one of the secrets of a person’s longevity. Exercise and proper diet ensures that you keep your heart healthy. However, many people are too busy to prepare meals and snacks that are good for them, reasoning that there are so many meals and snacks available from fast food joints, restaurants and snack bars. Sometimes, people think that healthy snacks are boring, because they long for the added flavorings of packaged food.

But snacking on healthy food can be made very satisfying, flavorful, and easy to prepare. The technique is to choose the right combination of snacks to bring the best flavors. The ultimate goal to having heart-friendly bites is to always have a combination of protein and fiber under 200 calories.

Heart-healthy snacks

You need not spend hours preparing snacks that will be of great benefit to your heart. Some of the food you can eat are easy to buy, easy to prepare and quick eats. Most of them are very simple, everyday fare that you can take along with you or keep in your office drawer for a nutritious hunger fix. Eating the right amount is the key.

1. Popcorn

Popcorn is whole grain, which keeps you leaner. It is a high source of polyphenols, antioxidants that are beneficial to heart health. Popcorn has three times the amount of polyphenols than other high sources, such as kidney beans, edamame and cranberries. You can have a 3-cup serving of plain popcorn for your snack.

2. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoid, which helps in thinning the blood, thus it is beneficial to your heart. It could also boost your immune system. Dark chocolate also contains epicatechin that promotes the production of nitric oxide that keeps blood vessels healthy. Choose dark chocolate that has 70% cocoa solids and eat it according to serving suggestion.

3. Yogurt

Research has shown that people suffering from gum disease are twice likely to have heart problems. Yogurt, which is rich in probiotics, helps to improve your digestive system. Research in Japan also showed that probiotics are great for keeping the gums healthy. You can have 2 servings of yogurt a day. One serving is 3/4 cup or 5-6 oz. Yogurt also helps you maintain weight, therefore lower the risk of heart disease.

4. Apples

Nutrient-rich apple contains several antioxidant flavonoid compounds, such as kaempferol, epigallocatechin, epicatechin and quercetin that prevent LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidizing and clogging the arteries. Vitamin C and pectin found in apples also help lower cholesterol levels, helping your heart stay healthy.

5. Assorted nuts

Nuts are good sources of monounsaturated fats, minerals and vitamins. Eat a serving of nuts, such as peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts. You can have nuts for snack two to four times per week. However, because most nuts are high in calories and fats, you should eat them in moderation. For example, you can have 23 almonds or 7 whole walnuts, 15 halves of pecans and 1-2 handfuls of pistachios per day.

6. Whole-Grain Salad

Enjoy a flavorful and filling snack of whole-grain salad. Cook some quinoa, couscous, brown rice and whole grain pasta and let them cool. Mix them with a combination of drained beans (rinsed), fruits and diced vegetable. Squeeze a bit of lime juice and some extra virgin olive oil for a zesty mini-meal that is a good source of good-for-the-heart fiber and nutrients.

It is better to prepare your snacks at home so you are sure that you would not be eating junk food, which many people equate to snack. Snacks should supplement the nutrients that you do not get from your regular meals to complete your daily requirements. Your delicious and energizing snacks do not need to be high in fat, sugar and calories to be enjoyable.

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