It’s healthy snack time!

Most of us engaged in big-time snack eating throughout the recent exciting Super Bowl football game. The question remains: Did we control the calories and nutrition level of what we devoured? For most of us who ate copious amounts of chips and dip, pizza and hot wings – sugar, sodium, and saturated fat won out in our food selections that day.

Tufts University’s Health & Nutrition Letter/Volume 13G explains, “According to a 2011 study, U.S. consumers are snacking more than ever before, with between-meal food and beverages now totaling a quarter of average daily calorie intake.”

Purdue scientist, Dr. Richard Mattes, further reports “Between 1977 and 2006, snacking in the American diet has grown to constitute a ‘full eating event,’ or a fourth meal, averaging about 580 calories each day.”

You don’t have to necessarily give up snacking, but rather choose your choices carefully as you would your regular daytime meals. In other words, keep up your energy levels all day as you eat snacks full of nutritious foods like vegetables and fruits and whole grains and low-fat dairy that might be missing at your regular meals. Plan in advance and select snack foods that will meet your mealtime standards of nutrient-dense choices. Tufts tells us this means plenty of nutrition per calorie with a preference of “whole, minimally processed snacks over refined products…” The newsletter adds, “Go for whole grains and high-fiber snacks which will “hold” you longer between meals.” And don’t forget to check the Nutrition Facts found on your food choice labels!

Here then are Healthy Snack Choices recommended by our dietary experts at Tufts University:

CRUNCHY: apples, carrot and celery sticks, green pepper sticks, zucchini circles, radishes, broccoli spears, cauliflower, and unsalted rice cakes.

MUNCHY: unsalted sunflower seeds, whole-grain breads or toast, cherry or grape tomatoes, low-fat or fat-free cheese, plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt, and unsalted almonds, walnuts, and other nuts.

SWEET: unsweetened canned fruit, thin slice of angel food cake, baked apple, raisins, dried fruit gelatin gems, frozen bananas, frozen grapes, fresh fruit, and low-fat or fat-free unsweetened fruit yogurt.

THIRST QUENCHERS: fat-free milk, unsweetened juices, low-sodium tomato or mixed vegetable juice, and water.

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