Do you often enjoy junk food and then feel guilty about it later? We have some good news. Not all packaged and easy-to-make snacks out there are unhealthy! From air-popped popcorn to baked sweet potato fries, plenty of tasty options won’t wreck your health as much as you imagine. So, don’t feel bad about satisfying your cravings occasionally. Here are a few suggestions for a quick bite to satisfy those hunger pangs.
Popcorn is a favorite snack for many, especially when watching a movie. It’s a good source of fiber, which can keep you full and satisfied. It also has antioxidants called polyphenols, which are shown to reduce inflammation and protect against cancer and heart disease. When choosing popcorn, buy plain, air-popped varieties or make them at home. Air-popped varieties are healthy, low-calorie, and great fiber alternatives.
Chocolate is often associated with indulgence and guilt, but dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa does have health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants called flavanols, which are shown to improve heart health and reduce inflammation. Researchers have found that dark chocolate with a high amount of cocoa (at least 70%) can improve blood pressure, reduce heart disease risk, and improve brain blood flow. Dark chocolate also contains iron, magnesium, and copper, which are important for overall health.
Nuts are often considered a high-calorie and unhealthy snack. However, they’re a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats that can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to improve heart health and reduce inflammation. Nuts are also a good source of vitamin E, which benefits skin and eye health. But remember, always pick unsalted or unsweetened varieties.
Sweet potato fries
French fries may be a classic junk food, but sweet potato fries are a healthy alternative. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, fiber, and antioxidants that can help protect against cancer and heart disease. They’re also a good source of complex carbs, which provide sustained energy and help regulate blood sugar levels. Since sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, they’re less likely to cause spikes in blood glucose than regular potato fries.
Guacamole is a delicious dip often considered unhealthy due to its high fat content. However, the fat in guacamole comes from avocados, a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are good fats that help improve heart health and reduce inflammation. Avocados are also rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and K. They have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative to other yogurts because it’s high in protein and low in sugar. It’s made by straining regular yogurt to remove excess liquid and concentrate the protein. This process also removes some lactose, making it easier for those with lactose intolerance to digest. Greek yogurt is a good source of calcium, important for bone health, and probiotics, essential for a healthy gut and robust immune system. Enjoy it as is, or add fresh fruit and a tiny amount of honey for a healthier and more satisfying snack!
Salsa is a flavorful sauce often enjoyed with chips or as a topping for tacos. While chips aren’t the healthiest option, salsa is a suitable choice low in calories, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s typically made with fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers. These veggies are rich in vitamins A and C and antioxidants that can protect against cancer and heart disease. Salsa sauce is also a good source of fiber and can help keep you full and satisfied.
Edamame is a popular snack often enjoyed at Japanese restaurants. It’s made from soybeans that are still in their pods and can be steamed or boiled and seasoned with salt. Edamame is a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins C and K. It’s also rich in isoflavones. These antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect against certain cancers. Edamame can be enjoyed individually as a snack or added to salads and stir-fries for a healthy and flavorful twist.
Hummus is a delicious dip made from chickpeas, tahini, and other healthy ingredients. It’s rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats that can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, which can improve digestion and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Hummus can be enjoyed as a dip with raw vegetables or whole-grain crackers or as a spread on sandwiches and wraps.
Berries are a sweet and satisfying treat that can be pretty healthy. Strawberries and raspberries are particularly good sources of antioxidants and fiber. They can help protect against cancer and heart disease, improve digestion, and regulate blood sugar. Freezing doesn’t significantly lower the nutritional value of fresh fruits, so feel free to munch on some frozen berries when hunger strikes.
It’s important to remember that while these junk foods may be healthier than their traditional counterparts, they should still be had in moderation. A food plan rich in whole, unprocessed foods is the best way to maintain optimal health. Incorporating these healthier junk food options into your nutrition plan can be a great way to satisfy cravings without sacrificing your health goals.