Why snacking is good for you

Why snacking is good for you

Why snacking is good for you

However, not all snacks are good. For example, snacks laden with sugar, fat, or salt are to be avoided. Consider a zero trans fat, high fibre snack made of oats and ragi, instead. Such a snack reduces cholesterol and stabilises blood sugar, thereby helping one to tackle diabetes in a more effective manner.

“The most important reason for the increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes and hypertension is the rapidly changing dietary habits of people. This is due to many reasons — easy availability of convenience foods, frequent snacking on energy-dense fast foods, and high consumption of packaged foods in place of traditional homemade foods. This transition has resulted in excess consumption of calories, saturated fats, simple sugars and salt as also in a low intake of fibre,” says Dr Priyanka, chief dietician in a Bangalore-based hospital.

It is necessary to distinguish snacking from munching or eating without hunger. For example, eating while watching TV or eating when bored or stressed out.
Giving the body a steady quantity of high-quality fuel helps in a number of ways.  High fibre, zero trans fat snacks like those made from complex carbohydrates like oats and ragi or fruits and vegetables help to maintain blood sugar on a much more even level throughout the day.

Healthy snacks rich in fibre and nutrients:
* Keep the system in fine fettle
* Improve blood sugar control by providing a consistent source of carbohydrates
* Decrease the risk of a steep fall in blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia). Snacking helps counter rapid gastric emptying and recurrent episodes of low blood glucose levels, known as reactive hypoglycemia.
* Curb the feeling of hunger before a meal and prevent overeating
* Help one to eat smaller portions and reduce the overall calorie intake
While preventing hunger pangs from striking between meals, snacking can also help satisfy a craving for foods of a certain texture (crunchy or smooth) or flavour (sweet or salty).
 
Quick tips
* Include high fibre foods such as fresh fruits, raw vegetables like carrots, red and green peppers, celery, cucumber etc
* Use low-fat cottage cheese in salads, toppings and dips
* Sauté vegetables in low-fat dressing
* A healthy snack could be a whole wheat vegetable sandwich and a cup of herbal tea; whole-grain crackers or biscuits like those made from oats, ragi or cracked wheat with no added sugar; sprouted pulses, a handful of roasted nuts like almonds, pistachios and walnuts
“Timing and portion size need to be regulated so that snacks don’t become a substitute for meals,” says Dr Ritika Samaddar, a Delhi-based dietician.

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