Seeds and Nuts for a Healthy Snack

As the world continues to struggle with the growing obesity epidemic, the idea of snacking between meals has gotten a bad reputation. However, not all snacks are created equal. Choosing a sensible portion of a nutrient-rich snack food, such as seeds and nuts, may even have important health benefits.

The bad side of snacking

For many people, the idea of snacking equates to countless hours spent sitting on the couch and watching TV, while mindlessly working your way to the bottom of a greasy potato chip bag. Unfortunately, this type of snacking occurs far too often and does contribute to obesity levels.

Snacking can be good

While mindless eating is never a good idea, having a healthy and sensibly portioned snack once or twice a day can be beneficial to good health. Even the American Heart Association states that choosing nutrient-rich snacks, such as cherry or grape tomatoes, carrots, broccoli spears, and various unsalted seeds and nuts, can be part of a healthy diet.

Why seeds and nuts are a good choice

Seeds and nuts can be great options for a healthy snack. In addition to being packed with vitamins and minerals, they’re also loaded with heart-healthy fats. What makes them even more ideal as a snack food is they’re easily portable and require zero preparation, which is key to avoiding unhealthy choices when hunger sets in.

Top seeds for snacking

Sticking with raw, organic versions of your favorite seeds is recommended by most nutritionists, as irradiating and roasting can reduce some nutrients. While smaller varieties like flaxseed, hemp and chia seeds have good nutritional value, the larger varieties, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, make the best choice for a low calorie, healthy snack.

Top nuts for snacking

Just like seeds, nutritionists often point out that raw, organic nuts have higher nutrient levels than their roasted or irradiated counterparts. The many vitamins, minerals and healthy fats found in pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts make these varieties some of the most popular nuts for snacking, but each may have its own list of benefits.

For example, walnuts are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and they’ve been shown to reduce inflammation. Almonds seem to pack the biggest nutritional punch, as in addition to many vitamins and minerals they have the highest levels of protein and fewer calories compared to some other varieties.

What to watch out for

Seeds and nuts may be great healthy alternative to overly salty and sugary snacks, such as potato chips and cookies, but it’s important to remember that they’re not calorie-free. In fact, some are quite high in calories and need to be consumed in smaller quantities. As you should do with all food choices you make, when you choose seeds or nuts for a snack, just be aware of the fat, calorie content and recommended serving size.

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