We are a nation of snackers. Thanks to the wide availability of convenience food in supermarkets, petrol stations and vending machines, we can always find fuel filled snacks to tide us over until our next proper meal. However, relying on certain snack foods such as cakes, chocolate bars, biscuits and crisps often means eating excess calories with little nutritional value. Over 60% of people in the UK are overweight or obese, mainly due to the consumption of food which is high in sugar and fat and low in fibre – giving short, rather than sustained, bursts of energy.
Healthier snacking can keep energy levels in check and curb cravings. Opting for snacks that are made from whole foods like fresh veg, dried fruit, nuts and oats offer an abundance of nutrients and fibre too. As a bonus, whole food requires more energy to chew, swallow and process; burning more calories in the digestive process.
So what are the best options when it comes to snacking for health and satiety?
Protein is a great way to protect yourself (and others!) from ‘hangry’ episodes. Compared to carbohydrate and fat, protein is the most efficient in reducing hunger. There is no need to go overboard either – a snack containing just 25% protein can increase satiety, which in turn helps to reduce energy intake and promote weight loss. Scientists believe that protein stimulates the release of anti hunger hormones, such as leptin. Opting for a tasty handful of nuts or seeds or adding a scoop of protein powder to your smoothie is a fabulous way to give your body a leptin boost. One study concluded that, compared to soy, whey protein produces a larger amount of anti hunger hormones. However, another study showed that pea protein was better at suppressing appetite than whey protein.
Nut or seed butters are a fab way of getting a quick protein hit. Try 2 – 3 teaspoons of natural peanut butter (or whichever you prefer) on celery, cucumber or carrot sticks with some freshly ground black pepper. For a sweet treat, smother it over a ripe banana and sprinkle with cacao nibs and seeds.
Oat based snacks are a winner for staying fuller for longer. Oats are rich in a soluble fibre called beta glucan which, combined with water, forms a thick gel in the stomach – a bit like wallpaper paste. Not only does beta glucan slow down digestion, it also mops up extra cholesterol and toxins along the way, preventing them being absorbed by the body. In fact, eating oats are scientifically proven to help reduce bad LDL cholesterol.
Drizzle 2-3 rough oatcakes with 1 tsp of honey and sprinkle of ground cinnamon or mixed spice for a hit of oaty goodness.
Sometimes, only chocolate will do. To gain maximum health benefits and cut back on sugar, swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids). Researchers now believe that certain gut bacteria feast on cocoa, breaking it down into small components which have anti inflammatory properties and producing anti hunger hormones. A daily 10g portion of ‘high flavanol’ dark chocolate is scientifically proven to be beneficial for heart health.
Try our delicious 72% cocoa solids Raw Chocolate. Handmade and minimally processed using high grade, organic, raw cacao powder.
Opting for savoury snacks instead of sweet ones are an ideal way to prevent blood sugar levels from crashing. Falafels are a great on-the-go snack as they contain protein rich chickpeas. If you’re not a fan of spice, try roasted chickpeas and broadbeans instead.
Off the shelf energy bars
Energy bars are a convenient pick me up. However, some can be loaded with added sugar that may make you feel like another one straight afterwards. Opt for energy bars which are sweetened with dates or other dried fruit. There are over 15 different minerals in dates, including selenium which is important for a healthy immune system.
Dates are high in fibre which slows down the release of sugar from these naturally sweet treats and helps to lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. A 30g portion of dried fruit like dates, apricots or prunes counts towards your ‘five a day’. All in all, dates are a good base for your balls!
Check out our divine Energy Truffles, made with organic, Fairtrade oats, organic dates and other uber healthy ingredients.