The benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet are undeniable. But every now and then, you can’t help but crave a little something sweet or salty. Many of us have developed a habit of snacking throughout the day, and it’s often this habit that can prevent us from losing as much weight as we’d like.
Going cold turkey might work short term, but can leave you feeling unsatisfied and with more intense cravings than ever. Fortunately, there’s a way to keep your belly from rumbling while remaining healthy. Read on to discover our top 5 healthy alternatives to unhealthy snacks.
Chocolate is one of the most difficult things to give up on, and it’s all-too-easy to find yourself nonchalantly picking up a bar to munch on. The good news is that you don’t need to remove chocolate from your life entirely. In fact, high quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70% is full of goodness.
Switching to dark chocolate enables you to discover far richer and complex tastes, while offering several health benefits. It’s rich in flavanols — a group of compounds found in a range of plant based foods and beverages — which can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease1. Dark chocolate covered fruits and nuts, such as almonds, are also extremely tasty and healthy.
Oven baked vegetable chips
Salty and delicious, a portion of fries really does hit the spot. Sadly, these deep-fried delicacies are packed with carbs and calories. A fantastically healthy and equally delicious alternative is oven baked vegetable chips. You can even make them at home, and with cooking times of around 20-minutes, they’re an ideal snack for any occasion.
You can also make them completely oil free, though a light spray of oil on the roasting pan, and on top of the sliced veg improves the texture. Choose root vegs that are packed full of nutrients, such as sweet potatoes, beets, zucchini, parsnips, and carrots. A sprinkle of sea salt and they’re good to go, though you can add cracked pepper and other herbs and spices if you wish.
Nuts are packed full of goodness and are an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein, with benefits such as reducing heart disease and improving blood sugar levels2. They’re also an excellent source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, such as magnesium and vitamin E. While they have little impact on weight loss, studies show that diets that are rich in nuts help prevent a host of chronic diseases and can promote a longer, healthier life.
Not all nuts are made the same and some have more benefits than others. Here are some of the best:
- Almonds — support beneficial gut bacteria and improve heart health
- Pistachios — rich in fiber, improve cholesterol and heart health
- Walnuts — potential benefits on the brain and improve blood pressure
Olives, cheese, & sun-dried tomato platter
If you have friends over for a glass of wine, it’s always nice to have something to snack on. A hearty cheese and meat platter is a temptation. But, a healthier olive, cheese, and sun-dried tomato option is just as delicious, and much better for you.
Olives and sun-dried tomatoes are a staple of Mediterranean diets, and both are nutritious. Olives are high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Studies show that olives can also reduce the risk of cancer3. Sun-dried tomatoes also contain antioxidants such as lycopene, plus olive oil to help absorb it. Mix things up with a small selection of healthy cheeses such as Mozzarella, cream cheese, and even blue cheese.
An excellent snack to store in the pantry, canned fish can be enjoyed whenever hunger strikes. Sardines and salmon are both great options, but other oily fish such as mackerel and herring are also excellent. Canned fish is great for weight loss, and is packed with proteins, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B12.
Sardines and salmon in particular are great for improving your heart health. They’re both high in fatty acids (omega-3), which can also have a positive impact on other health problems, such as kidney disease4. While they’re delicious straight from the tin, they can also be incorporated into a variety of salads.
Eating healthy certainly doesn’t have to be boring, and with these 5 alternatives you’ll never crave junk food again! Keep your home stocked with healthier, whole foods rather than overly processed snacks, and you’ll be sure to keep the pounds from piling up.