Snacking Can Be Good for You

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    Wise Snacking Can Be Good for You
    By Chris Rosenbloom and Susan Puckett
    Cox News Service
    February 2, 2005

    Nothing else weakens a weight watcher's willpower like a midafternoon hunger attack -- and a cookie jar or bag of chips within reach.

    But wise snacking may be good for weight control and overall health. Here is why:

    • Snacking keeps your brain sharp and your body fueled. Eating small portions of food throughout the day can stabilize blood sugar levels.

    • Blood cholesterol levels are lower in people who eat multiple small meals instead of one or two large meals. People with high cholesterol (about 65 million U.S. adults) often think about what to eat, but not how often to eat. Researchers think that gorging (eating one or two big meals) stimulates an adaptive response to convert more calories into fat and increase cholesterol levels.

    • Snacking can help manage weight. People who snack can control hunger, which can lead to lower calorie intake over the course of a day.

    There is an obvious downside: If you don't control the portions, the calories can add up, and so can the pounds. Keep those snacks small and be mindful of what and when you eat.

    If you merely need something to crunch, stick to raw veggies or air-popped popcorn.

    But to control hunger, you need to have more substantial snacks in your repertoire.

    Foods with more volume will fill you up better than those that are very energy-dense. A cup of broth will likely tide you over until dinner; a piece of fudge may leave you just as ravenous as before.

    While low-fat snacks are best, some fat -- preferably heart-healthy monounsaturates -- can help satiate you. Snacks with protein, fiber or both also boost health as well as combat hunger. The following snacks add up to 200 calories to your daily intake -- but will likely save you many more.

    Snacks for 200 or fewer calories

    4 Bagel Bites (mini pizza bagels in frozen foods section): 200 calories, 6 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber. Good source of calcium.

    Tube of Skippy Squeeze Stix creamy peanut butter snack: 140 calories, 12 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber.

    7 ounces Dannon Lite 'n' Fit Carb Control Smoothie: 70 calories, 3 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, no fiber. Good calcium source.

    1 medium banana with 1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter: 195 calories, 9 grams fat, 30 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber,

    1 container Campbell's Soup at Hand (chicken noodle): 80 calories, 2 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber.

    6 cups air-popped popcorn with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese: 172 calories, 8 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber.
     

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