Snacks are the great American pastime, (sorry baseball fans), an activity that all of us are eager to do. Eating between meals is fun. So much so, that nearly a quarter of the calories American adults eat every day come from snacks, according to federal nutrition data.
Snacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), should not only satisfy your hunger pangs, but also be nutritious. But, we all know that’s easier said than done.
However, as we get older this advice becomes more crucial. Our health and longevity depends on us eating healthy. The reason? Our metabolism decreases around 2 percent — which amounts to about 150 fewer calories needed daily — each decade after age 20. And, as calorie needs go down, nutrient needs mostly stay the same or even increase. Thus, your meals and snacks have to pack more transitional value
It can be done without sacrificing taste. Here’s the good news about snacks: If you choose the right foods, they can help you stay satisfied so you don’t overeat at meals, and give you energy. Here are a few tips to get you on the healthy snacks road.
Snacks: Pack It With Protein
It’s best if your snacks can tide you over until your next meal. According to a study from the University of Missouri, when adult subjects ate a high-protein yogurt for a mid afternoon snack, they felt less hungry, ate 100 fewer calories at dinner than those who snacked on crackers or chocolate. As we age we may need even more protein, to prevent the loss of muscle mass. Snacks that include beans, dairy or nuts, are all good sources of protein.
Snacks: Fill Up On Fiber
Protein is one-half of the anti-hunger equation. The other half is fiber. In addition to helping us feel satisfied, fiber plays several other important roles. It aids digestive health and helps with blood sugar control and lowering cholesterol.
To help reach your daily goal, snack on fiber-rich veggies, such as carrots; pears; popcorn and nuts.
Take refined-grain snacks, like pretzels and crackers, as well as sweetened snacks, including cookies and candies, off your menu. Foods high in simple sugars can cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to many chronic illnesses, including arthritis, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s.
Limit Your Sodium Intake
The American Heart Association recommends that adults age 50 and older limit sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams daily — that’s less than a 3/4 teaspoon of salt.
Nearly three-quarters of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods. Make the snacks yourself with fresh produce and unsalted nuts. and nut butters are naturally low in sodium. When you shop for packaged foods, compare labels to find the lowest-sodium varieties.