5 Seemingly Healthy Snacks That Aren’t Good For You — And Healthy Options
When done right, snacking fills your body with additional nutrients to keep you from feeling those mid-morning hunger pangs and slumping at work. While some people think that snacking lets you pack on more pounds, healthy snacks can lead to a lower BMI and provide you with benefits like increased focus, protection from diseases, and a happier mood.
Unfortunately, a lot of snacks are marketed as healthy when they’re really not! Just because the label says it’s fat-free or sugar-free doesn’t mean it is. While it seems that the grocery stores are on your side because of their claims, you need to exercise diligence by knowing what’s healthy and what’s not.
Beware of these snacks outlined below that aren’t as healthy as they claim to be and find healthier snack food options.
1. Diet Soda
One popular beverage that’s a favorite among dieters is diet soda. While diet soda is free from calories and sugar, it actually does you more harm. According to Health, diet soda contains artificial sweeteners that have a more intense taste than real sugar. This makes your taste buds immune to naturally sweet foods like fruits, making you have more unhealthy cravings.
Healthy Alternative: Green Tea
Instead of drinking diet soda for restricting your calorie intake, go for green tea. A natural and healthier way to lose weight, green tea contains caffeine and EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate) to boost your metabolism. EGCG is also known to have antioxidant effects to fight free radicals and prevent cancer.
2. Breakfast Cereal
A lot of breakfast cereals are labeled “made from whole grain.” They’re actually made from refined grains – the kind of grains that have their nutrients removed. Moreover, breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar which increases yours and your children’s risk for diabetes. Sadly, the fun colors and shapes of cereals seem to convince parents and kids that they’re good.
Healthy Alternative: Oatmeal Topped with Fruits
Containing both soluble and insoluble fiber, oatmeal for breakfast helps you maintain a healthy digestive tract and stable blood sugar levels so you can stay productive and focused at work. If you think oatmeal is boring, you’re mistaken. Top it with your favorite citrus fruits, bananas and berries to make it more delicious and nutritious!
3. Dried Fruit
Some claim that dried fruit is healthy while there are those who say that it’s no different from your regular candy. Here’s the truth: Dried fruit may give you fiber and antioxidants but it cannot be denied that it contains a lot of sugar and calories. So, if you’re at risk for diabetes or trying to shed excess pounds, this may not be your best choice.
Healthy Alternative: Fresh Grapes
Unless you’ll have a smaller helping which is nearly impossible with dried fruits that appear smaller and fit in one pouch, fresh grapes can be a better alternative instead. Since fresh grapes aren’t processed, you’ll stay hydrated, enjoy the healing benefits of resveratrol for your heart and brain, and have more stable blood sugar levels.
When compared to most chips, pretzels do contain lower calories and fat. But according to David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, pretzels are considered high glycemic index foods that cause your blood glucose levels to spike. High GI foods temporarily lift your mood but you end up irritable and unable to focus.
Healthy Alternative: Almonds
If you’re looking to have a crunchy snack to help you get rid of your pretzel cravings, choose almonds. They’re low in sodium and cholesterol, and are a great source of plant protein. Plus, they contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
5. Regular Flavored Yogurt
Be careful with your favorite ordinary yogurt. It may contain nutrients such as protein, vitamin D, and calcium, but contains high amounts of sodium and sugar. Too much sodium can cause your body to retain more water which leads to heart problems. On the other hand, a high sugar diet results in weight gain and diabetes.
Healthy Alternative: Greek Yogurt
Between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has one-half less sodium and sugar. Moreover, it contains more protein which leads to a greater feeling of fullness for a longer period. This helps control your unnecessary cravings and improves your physical performance – whether you’re at work or at the gym.
Before reaching for the next promising snack, make sure to do your own research. To be very sure that what you snack on is healthy, prepare them yourself instead. Or better yet, refer to this quick list!
Bogdan Bogdanovitch is a certified CrossFit-1 trainer and a nutrition student. In his free time he like to cook and scribble.