Diet

Snack with Fruit, Low-Fat Options to Maintain Ideal Heart Health

Lisa Nelson Health Pro January 05, 2009
  • Let's talk about snacks for a moment.  I believe there is a general perception that snacking is bad and you need to cut out snacking if you want to lose weight and be heart healthy.  Well, the opposite is actually true.  Let me explain.

     

    It is important to eat regularly, every 3-4 hours to maintain an increased metabolism, promote stable blood sugar levels, and prevent insulin spikes.  By maintaining a high metabolism you boost the calories you burn throughout the day, which helps you lose weight.  By maintaining stable blood sugar levels and preventing insulin spikes you will prevent drops in energy and halt a chain reaction that can lead to heart health complications (increased C-reactive protein, increased blood viscosity, increased clotting factor, increased free radical damage, etc.). 

     

    Now, this doesn't mean just any food will work.  You need to select heart healthy snacks.  This means eating snacks that balance carbohydrates with protein and/or heart healthy fats.  Fat and protein slow the breakdown of carbohydrates, preventing the rapid rise in blood sugar and the corresponding increased insulin release.

     

    Here are healthy snacks that are high in carbohydrates:

     

    Whole grain crackers

    Dried Fruit

    Pretzels

    Fig bars

    Fresh fruit

     

    You can make these snacks heart healthy by combining with a protein.  These protein sources that are easy to include with snacks:

     

    Glass of low-fat milk

    Yogurt

    Cheese

    Nuts

    Peanut Butter

     

    The following is an example of how you can apply this to your daily snacks.

     

    Mid-morning snack:  Yogurt with granola

    Mid-afternoon snack:  Nuts mixed with dried fruit

    Evening snack:  Light frozen yogurt topped with strawberries

     

    To receive regular heart health tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson, subscribe to The Heart of Health ezine and receive the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps.