Snacking can help you stay energized and prevent overeating at your next meal. But chips, candy and soda contain “empty calories,” meaning short-lasting energy and virtually no nutritional value. Here are some healthy snack ideas to fuel your workday.
Fruits and vegetables: Hands down, the healthiest snack choice you can make is fresh fruits or vegetables. Try keeping a fruit bowl at your desk, or bringing fresh vegetable sticks to munch on. If you are trying to lose weight, consider limiting snacks to only fresh fruits and vegetables to cut calories.
Dried fruit is less nutritious than fresh fruit, but a much healthier snack than candy. The fiber in dried fruit helps to slow the absorption of sugar, making you less likely to have an energy spike and crash compared to eating candy. Stay away from fruit juice, which has lots of sugar but no fiber.
Nuts: People often fear nuts because of their high calorie content, but a recent study published in the Obesity journal found that people who eat nuts at least two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than were participants who never or almost never ate nuts. Grab a small handful of nuts for a mid-afternoon snack, or spread 2 Tablespoons of nut butter on apple slices or celery sticks. Choose nuts or nut butters without added oil, sugar or salt.
Light microwave popcorn: Did you know that popcorn is considered a whole grain? Whole grains are more nutritious than refined grains (such as white rice and white bread), because fewer nutrients are stripped away during manufacturing. Three cups of light popcorn contain only 100 calories, making popcorn a light, yet voluminous snack. Microwave popcorn packets fit conveniently into your desk drawer. Just don’t overcook it in the microwave, unless you really want to tick off your coworkers!
A hard-boiled egg: Eggs have gotten a bad reputation in the past for their cholesterol content, but more recent research suggests that the amount of cholesterol consumed from food is not linked to heart disease. Plus, eggs are an excellent source of important nutrients, including high-quality protein, selenium and choline. Studies have found that people with a high choline intake have lower levels of inflammation. This is a good thing, because chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Most health groups in the US suggest that up to one egg yolk a day and unlimited egg whites will not increase the risk of heart disease, even for people who are watching their cholesterol. Hard-boiled eggs and other protein-rich foods should not be kept at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
Your food choices have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. The time spent preparing healthy snacks for work will pay off with improved energy and health.
This article was originally written for Comstock’s Magazine, the premier monthly business publication in California’s Capital Region.