One of the best parts about leading a healthy lifestyle is being able to satisfy our snack cravings without feeling guilty! Some of the most delicious snacks are also incredibly healthy - and by that, we mean that they’re full of nutrients that have proven health benefits.
Here’s our list of the top 6 healthiest snacks.
#1. Crudité Platter
Hummus is one of the healthiest dips! Each ingredient used in it has its own set of health benefits:
Olive Oil is rich in ‘monounsaturated oleic acid’, which is one of the ‘good fats’ we should be consuming: these fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the body. Olive oil is also full of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that may help protect us from various health issues like cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and stroke .
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein. A single cup can provide us with 27% of our daily protein requirement, along with 12.5 grams of fibre – that’s almost half the amount of fibre we need in a day, right there [2, 3]! Better yet, this fibre is the insoluble kind, which is important for our gut health [4, 5].
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, along with a bunch of other vitamins and minerals - manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, and selenium, to be precise . They also have fibre and other compounds that can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) .
Both sesame and chickpeas contain a wealth of phytonutrients - plant pigments that act as antioxidants in our bodies [8, 9]. If you choose to dip carrot sticks into the hummus dip, you’re also getting the added antioxidant benefits of a phytonutrient called beta-carotene (you can read more about it here).
Note: If the platter of crudités has an unknown creamy dip instead of hummus, you can always load up on more of the vegetables than the dip.
Bruschetta is quite popular, mostly because it’s incredibly easy to prepare – which is fortunate, because it’s also full of nutrients!
What makes this snack so healthy is - as you may have guessed - its toppings.
Bruschettas also generally contain garlic and onion, both of which have several heart-healthy plant compounds that can help fight free radical damage in the body. Some of these include phytonutrients called flavonoids, which are known to reduce the risk of cancer, lower blood sugar levels and improve bone health .
#3. Tortilla Chips with Dip
Mexican dips, like salsa and guacamole, are as tasty as they are healthy.
Dip into the hot salsa fearlessly. Along with the lycopene from tomatoes, it also has chillies. Capsaicin, a compound that makes chilli peppers hot, releases a rush of a “feel good” chemical called endorphins in the brain that reduce stress and pain, and boost feelings of overall well-being .
Avocados, the main ingredient in guacamole, are extremely high in fats – the good kind that our body needs in order to sustain itself.
What’s most incredible, though, is that a single 100-gram serving can provide a quarter of our daily requirements of a variety of nutrients. These include vitamins C, B5, B6, B9, E, and K, and potassium . Avocados also have protein, fibre and small amounts of other minerals and vitamins. Together, these can lower our risk for diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases .
To make it absolutely healthy, look for baked tortilla chips to have along with these healthy dips. For anyone watching their calorie intake, it’s still best to limit these to a handful.
#4. Bowl of Nuts
Nuts can be high in calories, but they are also very nutritious (and delicious!) .
Peanuts are rich in biotin , which is essential for the construction of our hair strands, and vitamin E , which helps protect our hair and skin from sun damage . It’s also a source of resveratrol, the antioxidant that’s famous for being found in red wine .
Compared to other nuts, almonds have the most fibre and vitamin E. They are an especially great option for patients of diabetes, since they may help regulate our blood sugar .
Cashews have some good fats like the ones found in olive oil. They are particularly rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, which serve many functions in our body . For instance, iron, copper and zinc are crucial for our immunity , magnesium helps regulate our muscle and nerve function , and phosphorus is important for skeletal health .
#5. Khaman dhokla
Its key ingredients are gram pulse and curd, making it really protein-rich. Gram pulses have several vitamins and minerals like folate, iron and selenium whereas curd is a particularly good source of vitamin B12 and calcium . The dal’s fermentation makes these nutrients highly bioavailable.
#6. Bajra khakhra
Khakhra is a thin cracker generally made from millets, wheat flour, and oil, with several possible varieties of cereals and legumes that can be used in its preparation - here, we’re taking a look at a bajra khakhra, in particular.
Bajra is a rich source of dietary fibre, B-vitamins (especially vitamin B3), phosphorus, iron, magnesium and calcium . It’s full of antioxidants and healthy plant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids .
Being inherently gluten-free, this is also a great snack for people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten . Regularly eating bajra can have potential health benefits like better blood sugar levels and weight management, which can be attributed to its fibre .
Whole wheat flour contains a significant amount of fibre, which is known to improve our digestive health . In fact, consuming whole-wheat and other whole-grain cereals, in general, has been associated with better gut health and a lowered risk for colon cancer .
Otherwise, it’s also a decent source of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and folate .
Healthy food can always be tasty; we just need to be cognisant of the ingredients that go into them and their nutritional value! Once we grasp this concept, we find ourselves in the beautiful overlap that exists within leading a healthy lifestyle and giving in to our love for food!
If you want to share some of your own favourite healthy snacks or want to check if your favourite snack can be considered healthy, drop a comment below! We’d love to hear from you. In the meantime - happy snacking!