Start changing your eating habits with heart healthy snacks

Heart healthy snacks should be low in calories, rich in beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and easy to make. Simplicity and health benefits are their main forte.

Most of them aren't long lasting source of energy since they usually contain very small amounts of complex carbohydrates on which our body, runs on. Most healthy snacks are also poor source of proteins.

However, nature didn't made them so we could get our daily dose of carbs or proteins but to bridge the gap between main meals so we could eat something healthy, in case we get hungry. Another fact which concerns healthy snack foods is their beneficial effect on cholesterol, pancreas, heart function, arteries and blood pressure.

Heart healthy snacks may also help you lose weight, especially when combined with physical activity since they are very low in calories.

LIST OF HEART HEALTHY SNACKS

Dried fruits such as bananas, figs, apricots, papaya, pineapple, dates or plums are just some of them. They can be bought in bulk and stored even on room temperature. You can eat them without having to cook.

Dried fruits are rich in fiber, potassium and different kind of flavonoids.  However, what makes them stand out, is their shelf life. Because of the drying proces, they are virtually resistant to spoilage, while retaining most of their phytonutrients.

Raisins are also a type of dried fruit and my favorite snack food because of which I had to put special emphasize on them. They are relatively cheap, while offering some pretty unique health benefits. Besides vitamins and minerals, raisins are also very rich in antioxidants as well as prebiotics.

Although they have been considered a bad food for oral cavity for a long time, due to their sugar content, they have shown to actually help reduce formation of dental plaque and the risk of gum disease. So, they may help in fight against heart disease, in more ways then one.

Fresh fruits such as kiwis, peaches, apples, oranges, grapes and pears are one of the best tasting heart healthy snacks. However, they must be stored in cool, dry place or they can go bad, very quickly.

That being said, in my opinion, they taste better then dried fruits because of which I eat more fresh then dried fruits. Only significant difference between the two, would be higher pesticide content of fresh fruits.

For example, apples contain the highest amount of pesticides of all fruits and vegetables because of which I try to limit their intake in my diet.

Popcorns are really unique and special kind of healthy snacks. While most other snacks are weak source of complex carbs, this is not the case with popcorns. Surprisingly, they are also rich in antioxidants.

Besides healthy carbs, flavonoids and low amount of calories, popcorns contain plenty of fiber and small amounts of good fats. However, unlike other healthy snack foods, you have to cook them before you can eat them.

Adding or cooking them in healthy oil such olive oil, improves their nutritional content. You can also sprinkle some nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger on them, while limiting the salt and cutting out the butter and margarine.

Peanuts are heart healthy snacks which unlike fruits are great source of healthy fats and proteins, besides vitamins and minerals.

They also contain antioxidants such as resveratrol, phytoestrogen genistein as well as coenzyme Q10 which is essential for normal ejection fraction of the heart muscle.

However, moderation is the key. Some people can't eat them at all, since they are allergic to peanuts.

Almonds, along with other nuts, are great source of healthy fats. They also contain substantial amounts of fiber, flavonoids, vitamins, as well as minerals such as selenium. Although they aren't on the same level as peanuts, when it comes to proteins, amount is still significant.

On the other hand, almonds are great source of phytosterols which along with healthy fats and fiber, offer strong natural remedy for lowering cholesterol.

As well as with peanuts, portion control is the key since they contain oxalates which may lead to health problems. Also, some people may be allergic to almonds.

Low-fat, fruit yogurt is one of the most delicious heart healthy snacks. However, fat percentage has to be low or the yogurt has to be fat-free. Fruit content is also important since it enriches the nutritional content of the yogurt.

However, what makes yogurt different then other healthy snack foods, is the fact it is a great source of probiotics. Probiotics are crucial for healthy immune system function which prevents bacterial infection of the heart muscle, among other.

Smoothies require some time to make because of which not everyone will be a fan of them. On the other hand, great taste and powerful health benefits are something that many people like about them.

However, you can also buy them, if you are too lazy to make one.

I really like my homemade banana shake. Besides bananas, I add honey or vanilla for better taste, yogurt, few berries or raisins for health benefits and I blend it all up.

Avocados, despite classified as fruit, they are surprisingly rich in fats, while most of it comes from healthy, monunsaturated fats. This makes it very popular vegetarian food.

Since dietary fat in them is good and they are rich in fiber as well as phytosterols, these heart healthy snacks have shown very effective in lowering cholesterol levels. They may even help reduce blood pressure, thanks to their high potassium content.

Water may come as a surprise to some of you since it is not food as other healthy snacks. However, it is one of the best nutrients for our body which helps flush out the toxins, keeps the body hydrated and prevents kidney damage. It also helps deal with ease hunger cravings.  

Actually, some people may feel hungry, although they really need water. After all, human beings can go for weeks without food but only couple of days without water.

CONCLUSION

There are several more heart healthy snacks such as brazilian nuts, pistachios, carrots or small healthy sandwiches. These sandwiches can be made from whole grain bread, low fat-salami and cottage cheese with a little bit of sugar-free ketchup and some spices on top.

However, this is just an idea. You can experiment and make up your own healthy snack foods that you like, through trial and error.

When I first started to eat healthy, cutting candies, fast foods and refined cereals was the first thing I did. Replacing them with these healthy snacks was more easier then changing my whole diet, all at once. You have to start slow.

Besides improving my diet and overall eating habbits, these heart healthy snacks also helped me get over my binging, since I was and still am a creature of habit.





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