Lindsay Watts, R.D.
Are you a snackaholic? Do you frequently forgo a regular meal in exchange for a smeal? [smeal: noun: a large snack or a small meal]. You are not alone, according to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2008, the amount of snacks Americans eat per day has doubled since 19781.
We are a nation of grazers: on average, men and women eat approximately 25% of their calories from their snacks each day2. Unfortunately, many of the snackable foods we reach for, don’t support a healthy heart and are often accompanied by sedentary, distracted behavior. When we are preoccupied by the television, traffic, or the computer, it is easy to overeat empty calories from food and beverages. When heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States3, healthy snacking needs to be a priority. In celebration of American Heart Health Month, try swapping out snacks with empty calories for more nutritious options.
The Nibbler: We all crave a little crunch from time to time. However, many of the crispy snacks we’ve grown to love, don’t exactly love us back. Potato chips,cheese curls, and my personal favorite, sourdough pretzels with dip, are great treats, but are often high in unhealthy fat and calories, and low in nutritional value. The American Heart Association® recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains as part of an overall healthy diet4. To get the crunch you want without all of the extra calories, choose whole grain crackers and vegetables with a yogurt dip for a smarter snack. Be sure to choose dips that are low in saturated fats like Bolthouse Farms® Yogurt Dressings.
The Grab and Go: On the go a lot? No time to sit and eat? Whether you are a busy mom, dealing with back-to-back meetings, or on the road, many of us have hectic schedules. Plan your snacks ahead of the hustle by making pre-portioned baggies of nuts, sliced fruits with low fat cheese, and vegetables. Still crunched for time? Bring along 100% juice products such as V8® to help fill the vegetable gap.
The Smeal: When you just can’t decide how hungry you are, the smeal is a great option. Just like a regular meal, these lighter, mini meals, should be balanced and mindful of fat and sodium4. During the colder months, Campbell’s® Healthy Request® soups and microwavable bowls take the guess work out of smeals. Each soup has 3 grams or less of total fat and is under 480mg of sodium per serving for sensible eating.
No matter what type of snacker you are, you can find foods that support an overall healthy diet. For more ideas on foods that fit in a heart healthy meal pattern, check out our Healthy Recipes.Snack Smart,
Lindsay received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University and completed her dietetic internship with Pennsylvania State University. She is a nutrition analyst for Campbell where she coordinates website communications and health professional outreach. Prior to Campbell, Lindsay worked as a retail dietitian. Lindsay is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Snacking Patterns of U.S. Adults. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2008.http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400530/pdf/DBrief/4_adult_snacking_0708.pdf.Accessed November 26th 2014.
- Snacks: Percent of Nutrients by Age and Gender: What We Eat in America. 2012.http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400530/pdf/1112/Table_25_SNK_GEN_11.pdf. Accessed December 3, 2014.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Heart Disease Facts and Statistics”.http://www.cdc.gov/heartDisease/statistics.htm. Accessed December 1, 2014.
- The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations