It can be hard to keep your heart healthy when you’re always on the go. That’s why it’s essential to have a few heart-healthy snacks up your sleeve. Some great options are fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean protein sources. By keeping these snacks handy, you’ll be able to stick to your heart-healthy diet no matter what life throws your way.
Why Heart-Healthy Snacks Are Important
Heart-healthy snacks are important because they can help you maintain a healthy weight, which is essential for heart health. Heart-healthy snacks are also great for getting essential nutrients like fiber, potassium, and magnesium.
What To Look For In Heart-Healthy Snacks
Heart-healthy snacks are a great way to keep heart disease at bay. Heart disease is the number 1 killer in America, but heart-healthy snacks can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
When picking heart-healthy snacks, there are things to look for: whole grains, lean protein sources, low-fat dairy products, and unsaturated fats.
These come from fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean protein sources.
Fruits and vegetables
This heart-healthy snack may be the easiest of them all. Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes are always available at your local grocery store. Many stores offer washed and bagged versions, so you don’t even have to worry about cleaning them yourself. Frozen fruit is also a great heart-healthy snack. Just make sure you choose partially thawed fruit rather than still completely frozen. It will ensure the most nutrients and flavor.
Vegetables are heart-healthy snacks too! These crunchy delights contain many valuable vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, to keep your heart healthy by preventing constipation. Try a bag of baby carrots or a handful of snap peas next time you’re on the go. If you want heart-healthy snacks that can be taken anywhere, keep some pre-cut celery sticks in a resealable plastic baggie at all times for a quick bite to eat when hunger strikes between meals.
Nuts and seeds
Whether you prefer dry roasted or honey roasted nuts is a matter of personal preference (we like hazelnuts the most of course). You can also try heart-healthy seeds, like sunflower or pumpkin seeds, instead of nuts if you have a nut allergy or want to switch it up. These heart-health gems are full of heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium… the list goes on! Remember to eat heart-healthy snacks in moderation since these tasty morsels are high in calories and fat.
Low-fat dairy products
Eating heart-healthy snacks means keeping an eye on your heart health, but it doesn’t have to mean giving up all of your favorite foods. Making sure that your heart stays healthy is as easy as grabbing some low-fat milk or yogurt from the grocery store next time you’re there. Low-fat cheese sticks are perfect for keeping your heart healthy while trying to lose weight. Just be sure to track how often you are indulging in heart-healthy snacks.
Getting some heart-healthy whole grains into your diet is as easy as grabbing a box at the grocery store or picking up a loaf of bread at the bakery section. Many pieces of bread are made with 100% whole grain flour, making them heart-healthy snacks to feel good about eating. Some options include wheat bread, seven-grain bread, oat bran bread, and more! When picking out heart-healthy snacks, make sure they say “100% whole grain” somewhere on the label. Otherwise, there may be only a little whole grain flour in the product, which doesn’t do much heart-healthy.
Lean protein sources
Protein is vital for heart health because it helps build muscle mass and keeps your heart strong. Make sure to get some heart-healthy lean protein into your diet every day by eating foods like chicken breast or egg whites. You can also opt for low-fat dairy products or beans and legumes like black beans, kidney beans, and white beans to get a heart-healthy snack with a little more staying power in it.
6 Heart-Healthy Snacks For On The Go
Here are five heart-healthy snack ideas to get you going:
- Berries and yogurt: Mix 1/2 cup berries with 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt and serve.
- rail mix: Combine 2 tablespoons of walnuts with 2 tablespoons dried cranberries and 3 tablespoons of unsalted peanuts. Never use chocolate chips as they often aren’t good for heart health.
- Apple with 1 tablespoon nut butter: Slice up an apple and spread one tablespoon of nut butter on top (almond, cashew, or peanut butter are heart-healthy).
- String cheese with whole wheat crackers: 6 ounces of low-fat string cheese has 13 grams of protein per serving, along with heart-healthy calcium . Pair it with 2 tablespoons of hummus and 10 whole-grain crackers for a heart-healthy snack full of protein and heart-healthy fiber.
- Unsweetened yogurt parfait: Layer 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup berries and 1/4 cup high fiber (oats work great!). High fiber foods reduce heart disease risk by keeping you fuller longer, which helps avoid heart disease-causing weight gain .
- Hazelnuts: a 5oz package of Premium Growers natural roasted hazelnuts is perfect! Hazelnuts are packed full of fiber antioxidants and contain a phenolic compound known as monounsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol.
What To Do If You Travel A Lot
Sometimes heart-healthy snacks aren’t practical because work or school doesn’t offer them. If that is the case for you, try bringing heart-healthy snacks with you to munch on. Here are some ideas:
- Keep jerky and raw nuts on your desk, so when hunger strikes at work, you have something healthy to snack on.
- Try making hard-boiled eggs ahead of time so they can be quickly grabbed out of the refrigerator for a heart-healthy snack at home, school, or work.
- Freeze grapes overnight, so they’re ready to eat when you are.
- Make a heart-healthy trail mix for when you’re on the go. Mix heart-healthy ingredients in advance and store them in a baggie, so they’re ready to grab out of your backpack or purse.
- Try making heart-healthy cookies or bars with 100 calories or less per serving, which is about the size of a deck of cards . They can be made ahead of time and taken with you when exercising, work, school, vacation, etc. The heart-healthy snacks ideas are endless when it comes to being heart smart!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, so it’s essential to do everything you can to protect your heart.
Making heart-healthy snacks part of your daily routine will help keep heart disease at bay!
References: "Heart Disease." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 01 Dec 2014 <http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/>. "Go Red For Women: Foods That Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease." Go Red For Women: All About Heart Health - American Heart Association (AHA). "Ten Foods to Eat for Heart Health." WebMD. <http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/ten-foods-to-eat-for-heart-health#1>.