Snacks are a favourite of many, and what most busy individuals would resort to just to satisfy the occasional craving and between meals hunger! However, snacks are the common culprit when it comes to high calorie counts, a treacherous path that many must avoid if they wish to maintain their fit figures. So the big question is, what to eat?
Here are eight kinds of healthy and low-calorie snacks to stop those hunger pangs and fill you up:
These brain-shaped nuts are indeed the best food for our brain. Walnuts are rich in minerals, protein and essential Omega 3 fatty acids which are needed by our body to carry out a string of internal processes in the right manner. In addition to aiding our brain, walnuts also help to protect the heart and blood vessels and are an anti-inflammatory agent. A US study pointed out that by eating 48 grams a day, or about 6-7 walnuts, cholesterol levels can be lowered. It is also suitable for both men and women to consume.
Buying tips: It is best to purchase raw walnuts that are unroasted and unprocessed. This is due to the fatty acids being easily destroyed during the baking process.
Recommended serving size: 1-ounce serving of walnuts (seven whole walnut kernels or 14 halves walnuts)
2. Pumpkin seeds / sunflower seeds/ red melon seeds
Seeds are rich in vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids, and are particularly suitable for those who have high blood pressure. In addition, seeds are also rich in antioxidants such as zinc and selenium. Zinc not only helps to boost the immune system, but it also fights free radicals, enhances cell repair capacity, enhances the glossiness of the skin and improves overall skin health. For men, eating pumpkin seeds can help prevent prostate problems.
Buying tips: Be extra careful when buying seeds - it is recommended that you buy high-quality organic and unprocessed seeds. In order to attract customers to purchase their goods, generally white seeds have been treated by a bleaching agent. Even colourful seeds aren’t free from artificial processing, as those found in the market have wax and flavour additives added to them to give the seeds a shiny, full appearance. So when you purchase seeds, pick seeds with non-uniform colours that aren’t too bright or too sticky. Shape-wise, flat shaped ones are the best.
Recommended serving size: 50 g per day
Seaweed has a high nutritional value, and is rich in minerals, vitamins, iron and calcium. Moreover, seaweed is not only low in fat, but it also has a high iodine content (which helps to speed up metabolism), so it’s an especially good snack for working men and women who want to maintain a healthy weight.
Buying tips: Korean seaweed with the addition of a little salt and oil is a relatively natural and healthy choice. Types of seaweed that are not recommended however, are those that are fried or have a heavy, artificial taste as those have added additives and seasonings, which frequent consumption of may bring about an adverse effect on the kidneys. In addition to being a healthy snack alternative, seaweed can also be purchased from large vacuum-packed servings, which can be eaten with salad or added to soups for an appetising and nutritious meal.
Recommended serving size: A packet per day
If you have a sweet tooth, then raisins are a good choice. The skin of grapes is rich in resveratrol and antioxidants such as proanthocyanidins which is an important element to prevent ageing. It has an oxidation resistance 20 times greater than vitamin C and 50 times higher than vitamin E! The raisin has a condensed version of all this goodness. Raisins may also help in blood formation, so it’s a good treat for women to have during their menstruation period. In addition, raisins contain a lot of vitamins, which can give you a quick energy boost when you’re feeling fatigued.
Buying tips: Pay more attention to the food labels when purchasing- do not buy sugared raisins, and it’s best to select 100% pure raisins without any added sweeteners. In addition, some stores sell organic raisins that still contain grape seeds within them, and they are generally better and healthier.
Recommended serving size: ¼ cup
5. Red Dates
Red dates are rich in vitamins, and according to Chinese medicine, dates help to replenish qi, strengthen the spleen and stomach as well as nourish and produce blood. Because of this, it is often touted to be a suitable go-to beauty snack for women, especially those who work long hours in air-conditioned offices.
Dates also have a calming effect, so to soothe frazzled nerves or emotions, chew a few dates or soak them in water to create a nourishing drink.
Buying tips: If you want to eat dates as a snack alternative, do not choose those with bright colours when purchasing because manufacturers tend to add chemical preservatives to lengthen the dates’ shelf lives. Moreover, the bright red often associated with dates has undergone some form of chemical processing as well to enhance it. However, dates are overall a sweet and easy snack alternative, and instead of having candied fruits, have dates instead!
Recommended serving size: 4-5 pieces
6. Goji Berries
It is a well-known health tip that goji berries benefit the eyesight. It is rich in beta carotene, vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Goji berries taste sweet, and can be a sweet snack very much like raisins. For computer users who are experiencing eye soreness or fatigue, and deterioration of eyesight, these berries are of great help. In addition, you can use goji berries in your tea. For instance, adding and brewing goji berries with chrysanthemum tea will make for a delicious concoction that will improve eyesight as well.
Buying tips: Choose those with plain and overly bright colours. Preferably, select goji berries that are dry and with a certain degree of toughness, as this will not cause mold to grow on them.
Recommended serving size: ¼ cup
7. Konjac (Konnyaku)
Low-calorie konjac (known as Konnyaku to the Japanese) is rich in cellulose and soluble fibre, which cannot be digested and absorbed by the human digestive system. Therefore, in Japan, it is dubbed the ‘intestinal scavenger’ as it is believed to aid gastrointestinal motility. In addition, konjac is a very strong absorbent, and as it swells in the stomach, it allows water to reach satiety naturally. Konjac is also often used to make jelly food, such as wolfberry chrysanthemum konjac, and Roselle konjac to name a few.
Note: Due to konjac being needed to be chewed properly into smaller pieces before swallowing, many countries have reported numerous cases where young children have choked on the consumption of konjac.
Buying tips: Be careful not to buy sugary konjac, which will impact the body negatively instead of letting it reap the health benefits from konjac. It is best to buy in powder form, and then craft dishes tailored to suit individual preferences.
Recommended serving size: 1-2
8. Dark Chocolate
Most people are of the notion that eating chocolate will make you fat, but the belief has been debunked by the University of Copenhagen’s study, which found that dark chocolate provides more satiety. It also contains caffeine, which can inhibit the desire for sweets and high fat foods! Moderate intake of dark chocolate may help with weight control, and is absolutely the ideal choice for any working individual. Plus, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, and adequate intake of antioxidants helps to nourish the brain. Dark chocolate also contains the least amount of sugar amongst all the other types of chocolate in the market.
Buying tips: Be sure to read the labels when purchasing. It is best to select dark chocolate that contains more than 70% cocoa. Ensure that the label clearly states that it is made from real cocoa and has no additional additives such as colouring and flavouring agents.
Recommended serving size: 2 to 3 grids (2 X 4cm size).