Diet Conscious Snacks – What are they really?

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Credit:American Heart Association

When shopping for healthy snacks some items come readily to mind: yoghurt, nuts, muesli bars, or something sweet like a muffin or diet soft drink.  However they may not be such a wise choice when you look more closely at the ingredients labels.  Some are extremely high in calories and fat.  Here’s what to watch for to ensure you purchase a healthier option.

Yoghurt: Plain yoghurt can naturally contain about 16 grams of sugar per cup, but if you eat flavoured yoghurt you could be adding an additional 15 grams more!  What to do: Purchase plain, low-fat yoghurt and chop up a piece of fruit to add to it for your snack.  You’ll be lowering the calorie intake and contributing to your 5+ a day.  Or even better choose a low fat Greek yoghurt as it often has a higher protein content which will keep you satisfied for longer.

Trail Mix or Scroggin: This is a great snack for those heading out into the wilderness for a hike. However for those less active it can be too high in fat and contribute to an excess of calories, especially if they comprise items like yoghurt-covered raisins (containing saturated and trans fats) or roasted and salted nuts.   What to do: Prepare your own mix with raw nuts, dried fruits like raisins, sultanas or chopped apricots and some wholegrain cereal.

Muesli Bars: Containing the word muesli we automatically think it’s good for us; however the name can be deceiving.  Many bars are loaded with sugar, salt and fat and contain way too many calories to be considered a ‘snack’!  What to do: Look for a bar that contains no more than 600kJ per bar for an adult and children’s snacks should contain no more than 300kJ.

Muffins: Again it is the word muffin that can lead us to believe it is a healthy snack, though many muffins these days are glorified cupcakes loaded with sugar and fat.  What to do: Bake them yourself, you’ll then know exactly what you are eating and you’ll also save money!  If you are going to purchase a muffin opt for a bran one without smothering it in butter. Also look for the Heart Foundation ‘tick’ on some brands of muffins.

Diet Drinks:  Diet or Zero-calorie soft drinks are not that great for the waist line. An American Health Science Research Centre found that people who drank artificially sweetened soft drinks gained more weight than those who didn’t! Why? They think it’s possibly because the sweet flavourings may trigger cravings for the real thing, so consumed more calories overall.  What to do: Save the diet soft drinks for a special treat.  Instead opt for water or freshly squeezed juice (with no added sugar) or if you really miss the fizz try a sparkling mineral water.

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