Snacking is the American pastime. Americans love to snack — morning, noon, night — indeed, anytime is the right time to snack. Snacking is perhaps even more popular than Football and Baseball. But, the key is to do it the right way and avoid chronic diseases. This is especially true for senior citizens, who have a slower metabolism.
Of course, it goes without saying, that a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner are important.
However, be aware that what you munch between meals can seriously impact your health, perhaps even more so than your three daily meals. Why is this so? The answer is because 25 percent of the calories American adults eat – each day come from snacks, according to federal nutrition data.
And, as we get older this situation becomes more crucial. Metabolism decreases around 2 percent — which translates to 150 fewer calories needed daily, after the age of 20. As your calorie needs go down, nutrition needs stay the same or even increase. Therefore your meals and snacks need to contain sufficient nutrition.
Snacking: How To Do It Right
Here’s the good news about snacking: If you choose the right foods, they can bridge nutrient gaps in your diet, help you stay satisfied so you don’t overeat at meals, and give you energy when you need it — all while tasting great.
Here are a tips to help you snack healthy.
Snacking: Control the calories
In general, you want to eat foods that provide more nutrients and fill you up with fewer calories. So, instead of chips or high-calorie snack bars, try air-popped popcorn with two rounded tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese. Another great option is a half a cup of cottage cheese with cantaloupe. Both options give you about 10 percent of your daily calcium needs.
Also, keep the portion size at a moderate size, even with healthy foods. A good level is a a snack that comes in at around 100-150 calories.
Snacking: Protein Is Key
Protein is very important in a snack. According to a study from the University of Missouri, adults who ate a high-protein yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack, ate 100 fewer calories at dinner compared to the group that ate crackers and chocolate. Also, seniors need to eat more protein than younger aged people so as to prevent the loss of muscle mass. Snacks that include beans, dairy or nuts — in items like hummus, yogurt and peanut butter — are all excellent sources of protein.
Snacking: Fill up on Fiber
Protein is one-half of the satiation equation. The other half is fiber. In addition to helping us feel satisfied, fiber plays several other essential roles. Fiber helps with digestive health, controls blood sugar and lowers cholesterol.
But, only 5 percent of the population gets the amount recommended by health experts.To reach your daily goal, snack on carrots and fruits like pears. Chickpeas, whole grains, popcorn, and almonds, are all great sources of fiber — and they taste good as well.
Limit your sugar intake. Too much sugar can mess up your insulin levels and cause inflammation inside your body. Inflammation is linked to many chronic illnesses, including arthritis, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s.
Limit refined-grain snacks, like pretzels and crackers, as well as sweet snacks, including cookies and candies.
Snacking: Slow Down On The Sodium
The American Heart Association (AHA)recommends that adults age 50 and older limit sodium intake to about 1,500 milligrams daily. That comes out to less than a 3/4 teaspoon of salt. That’s plenty to keep you going.
Keep in mind that nearly 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods. Making snacks yourself, however, means you can use lower-sodium ingredients. Fresh produce, unsalted nuts and nut butters are naturally low in sodium. When you shop for packaged foods like whole-grain crackers or yogurt, compare labels to find the lowest-sodium varieties.