Is Your Snack Really a Healthy One?

Is Your Snack Really a Healthy One?

Time for a healthy snack! If you are a real fitness enthusiast, you’ll probably avoid chocolate bars and rather reach for a healthier alternative, but how sure you are that cereal bar, fat-free yogurt or dried mango is really a healthy choice?

Well, you’ve kicked that nasty sugar habit to keep you going between meals and adopted a more healthy approach to snacking. But have you really? We’re often fooled by the ”fat-free,” ”healthy” and ”sugar-free” labels but there are other things that we are often not aware of: these snacks are full of other nasties that could declare a war to your waistline.

The need to have a snack actually depends on how efficiently you metabolize your food and how good your blood sugar balancing mechanisms are functioning. The more affected you are by low blood sugar, characterized by low energy, sugar cravings, feeling hungry and frustrated, the greater is the chance that you’re suited to small and regular meals, including snacks.

sugar-free foods_healthy snack
We’re often fooled by the ”fat-free,” ”healthy” and ”sugar-free” labels.

Nevertheless this can be counterproductive if these snacks have high sugar and carbohydrate contents, but are low in healthy fats, proteins, and fibres because this will have a negative effect on your blood sugar balance.

A high carbohydrate or sugary snack will result in an insulin spike followed by a low which leads to a roller coaster rather than a prolonged balance of energy released.

So what in reality is a healthy snack and how can we keep away from these pitfalls? Now follows the truth about three most common “healthy” snacks and, be warned, you’ll never look at them the same way again.

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THE CEREAL BAR

INGREDIENTS: Wholegrain oat flakes, golden syrup (invert sugar syrup), sunflower oil, sugar, bran flakes (wheat, wheatbran, sugar, barley malt extract, honey), wheat starch, roasted chopped almonds, honey, raising agent (potassium bicarbonate), natural flavourings

Oat Snacks_healthy snackUSUAL NUTRITIONAL VALUES PER SERVING (30g):

Energy (kcal): 134 kcal

Fat: 5.0g, of which Saturates: 0.5g

Carbohydrate: 19.1g, of which Sugars: 6.7g

Fibre: 1.5g

Protein: 2.4g

The cereal bar is full of carbohydrates and sugars (golden syrup, sugar, barley malt extract, honey) with a very small amount of protein (we need 10g per snack), and less than 2g of fibre (we need 25g per day). The calorie ratio is half fat, half carbohydrate, which is the culprit linked to obesity and overeating.

BEWARE OF: Hidden sugars under different names.

RATHER CHOOSE: Vegetarian protein bars.

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THE BLUEBERRY FAT-FREE YOGURT

INGREDIENTS: Grade A non fat milk, blueberry puree, fructose, less than 1% modified corn starch, natural flavor, carmine (for color), sucralose, malic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium citrate, acesulphame potassium

Blueberry Yogurt_healthy snackUSUAL NUTRITIONAL VALUES PER SERVING (150g):

Total fat: 0g

Cholesterol: 10mg

Sodium: 45mg

Potassium: 150mg

Total carbohydrate: 9g

Sugars: 7g

Protein: 12g

This fat-free yogurt is full of artificial sweeteners such as fructose and sucralose which can affect blood sugar balance and trigger craving for more sweet things in the diet. Fructose (fruit sugars) are also connected to non-alcoholic liver disease when consumed in too large amounts. Many experts don’t recommend cow’s dairy because it can be difficult to digest due to its high lactose content. What is more, it doesn’t state that it has live cultures, meaning it doesn’t have any gastrointestinal benefits for your stomach.

BEWARE OF: Added sugar or fructose. Always opt for live cultures for probiotic benefits.

RATHER CHOOSE: Natural live sheep’s or goat’s yogurt or coconut yogurt. Mix in fresh fruit and add seeds to increase nutrient density and fibre.

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THE DRIED MANGO

INGREDIENTS: Mango, sugar, citric acid, calcium chloride, sulphur dioxide, natural flavor, colored with yellow six

Dried MangoUSUAL NUTRITIONAL VALUES PER SERVING (150g):

Energy (kcal): 92 kcal

Fat: 0.2g

Carbohydrate: 20.3g, of which Sugars: 19.1g

Fibre: 2.8g

Protein: 0.7g

Dried fruit (especially exotic fruit) is high in sugar, and low in fibre and protein. Therefore, it’s a really unhealthy choice. When fruit is dried it concentrates the sugar content, loses the water and all vitamins are destroyed, which leaves it without any nutritional benefits. It also contains a number of colors, stabilizers and preservatives, which can build up and have a negative impact on health and well-being (sulphites are linked to migraines).

BEWARE OF: Everything. Avoid it altogether.

RATHER CHOOSE: Fresh fruit and a small handful of nuts to balance out the carbohydrate with protein and healthy fats.

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Written by Camille Bennett

Camille Bennett is our nutrition expert interested in fitness diet and doesn’t run out of delicious ideas for healthy and nutritional meals.

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