The words 'healthy snacks' may sound like an oxymoron to some of you but they actually exist. Whether, it is for those 4pm hunger pangs or a mid-morning munchie, snacks are always welcome to break the monotony of our day. Snacks play a large role in achieving nutritional goals. They help maintain your energy levels, prevent binging, thereby reducing your trips to the canteen or the corner chai shop for the unhealthy calorie dense snacks.

While choosing snacks, go for quality over quantity. Look for nutrient dense snacks, which when eaten in the right amount, add to your feeling of wellness.

So, how do we choose the correct snack?

Fresh fruits and vegetables make a good snack in between meals. Choose seasonal fruits and try to choose a different one daily so that you get all the various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants possible. One snack a day should be fruits as we need to achieve a target of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables. Dried fruits are another option if you find them convenient to carry to office or while travelling.

Dried nuts are another healthy snack option. They are rich in proteins, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants. They are calorie dense, but a one ounce serving (30gms approx.) of a mixture of nuts and seeds make for an excellent snack option.

While choosing ready to eat snacks, read the labels. If the nutritional information promises at least one good nutrient, you may pick it up.

If a product has proteins, it is a good choice because Indian diets are deficient in proteins, one of the important macro nutrients. Protein rich foods are great for hunger management too as they promote satiety .They also help in increasing muscle mass. Snacks that are rich in protein include yogurt, hardboiled eggs, bhuna chana, peanuts, dry nuts, besan and soy based snacks.

If the label says 'rich in fiber', take it because it is definitely good for you. Fiber is helpful in adding bulk to your food and gives a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time, helping with weight management. Fiber is known to prevent and control diabetes and hypercholestremias. Fiber increases the bulk in the intestines and also improves gut health because insoluble fiber is the base for good bacteria to grow and flourish. Snacks that are rich in fiber include fruits and vegetables, whole-grain snacks, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Snacks that contain Healthy Fats are a good way to be healthy and lean. While talking about fats, it is both the quality and quantity that makes a difference. All fats are not bad, but the quantity and type of fat is important. Snacks that are rich in healthy fats include dry fruits and nuts, seed mixes, trail mixes, dark chocolate, and other dairy products like cheese.

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