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Unwinding over the weekend needn’t necessarily mean letting go of the healthy food choices you’ve been trying to make – even when it comes to party snacks. Some healthy snacks have made their way into the party spread, with a good balance between calorie intake and nutrition.

 

Here’s a list of a few of them.

 

Crudité Platter

 

Hummus is one of the healthiest dips you’d find at a party! Each ingredient has its own set of health benefits; the olive oil gives us some good fats that our body could do with, while chickpeas and sesame paste are excellent as well. Here’s a closer look at them:

 

Chickpeas are a great vegetarian source of protein. You wouldn’t say that it’s very low in calories, because one cup has about 270 calories; but it comes with some excellent merits, like providing 27% of our daily protein requirement and about 12.5 grams of fibre – that’s almost half the amount we need! Also, this fibre is the insoluble kind, which is important for a healthy gut.1, 2

 

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper as well as a bunch of other vitamins and minerals (manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum and selenium, to be precise). They also have fibre and other compounds that can lower bad cholesterol (LDL).3

 

Both sesame and chickpeas contain a wealth of phytonutrients, which are plant pigments that act as antioxidants in our body.

 

If you’re dipping carrot sticks into the hummus dip, you’re also getting the added antioxidant benefit of a phytonutrient called beta-carotene (read about it in carotenoids).

 

If the platter of crudités has an unknown creamy dip instead of hummus, you’re better off loading up on more of the vegetables than the dip.

 

 

Bruschetta

 

Bruschetta is quite popular at parties, mostly because it’s incredibly easy to prepare – which is lucky, because it’s also really healthy!

While the calorie count really depends on the size of the pieces, one piece should be around 50-75 calories.

 

But what makes this starter so healthy is – as you may have guessed – its toppings.

 

Tomatoes contain a carotenoid called lycopene, which does a wonderful job of protecting the skin from the anti-ageing effects of the sun, by fighting free radicals.4

 

Bruchettas also generally contain garlic and onion, both of which have several heart-healthy compounds. In addition to free-radicas, they also have phytonutrients called flavonoids, which are known to reduce the risk of cancer, lower blood sugar levels and improve bone health.5

 

 

Tortilla Chips with Dip

 

Mexican dips, like salsa and guacamole, make a tasty and healthy condiment at parties.

 

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 “feel good” chemical called endorphins in the brain.6

 

Avocados, the main ingredient of guacamole, are extremely high in fats – the good kind your body needs in order to sustain itself. They are also rich in fibre and protein. But what’s most incredible is that a single 100g serving can provide a quarter of your daily requirements of a variety of nutrients. These include vitamins (C, B5, B6, B9, E, K) and potassium. Avocados also have protein, fibre and small amounts of other minerals and vitamins. Together, these help you with weight management and can reduce risks of diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases.7, 8

 

If you’re lucky, you’ll find baked tortilla chips. Limit yourself to a handful of these to keep the calorie count in check (10 chips = 146 calories).

 

 

Bowl of Nuts

 

Nuts are also frequently served at parties with drinks. They can be high in calories, but are very nutritious too.9

 

1] Peanuts (1/4 cup = 207 calories)

Peanuts are rich in biotin, which is essential for hair structure, and vitamin E, which protects hair and skin from sun damage.10 It’s also a source of resveratrol, the antioxidant that’s famous for being found in red wine.11

 

2] Almonds (1/4 cup = 170 calories)

Compared to other nuts, almonds have the most fibre and vitamin E. They are especially good for people worried about their blood sugar, since they seem to decrease insulin resistance.

 

3] Cashews (1/4 cup = 221 calories)

Cashews have some good fats like the ones found in olive oil. They are particularly rich in copper, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and zinc, which serve many functions in our body.

 

 

While party snacks can be nutritious, moderation is still the key to make it a healthy option. Keep these tips in mind, and have a happy, healthy weekend!

 

References:

 

1.         Mallillin AC, et al. Br J Nutr 2008, 100(3): 485-488.

2.         Pittaway JK, et al. J Am Coll Nutr 2007, 26(4): 334-340.

3.         WHfoods. World’s Healthiest Foods: Sesame Seeds.  2015  [cited]Available from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84

4.         Ribaya-Mercado JD, et al. J Nutr 1995, 125(7): 1854-1859.

5.         Corzo-Martínez M, et al. Trends in Food Science & Technology 2007, 18(12): 609-625.

6.         Rollyson WD, et al. J Control Release 2014, 196: 96-105.

7.         Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2012, 53(7): 738-750.

8.         SelfNutritionData. Nutrition Facts: Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. California, USA: Condé Nast; 2014.

9.         Bender RG. Why You Should Go Nuts for Nuts. 2013.

10.       Finner AM. Dermatologic Clinics 2013, 31(1): 167-172.

11.       Frémont L. Life Sciences 2000, 66(8): 663-673.

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