April 19, 2017
Although snacking could at first sight be deemed insignificant, it stands in fact as a pivotal element in people’s diet. Especially in current times, when new lifestyle patterns have undoubtedly changed and people have now less time, constantly rush and seem to live in a permanent hurry-up.
In this new scenario, meals have become somehow an accessory activity. A mere formality that needs to be fulfilled. Leaving aside the fact that they still are an outstanding opportunity to enjoy a delightful experience, it goes without saying that meals continue to be, above all, a nutritional necessity.
Consequently, snacks need to gain prominence so as to keep the balance. According to a 2016 scientific study, snacking may contribute close to one-third of daily energy intake in current society. Therefore, today’s snacks not only need to be easy and practical to carry, and quick to eat (which traditionally was their only requisite), but also must provide satiety and supply essential nutrients.
Considering such requisites, nuts and dried fruits stand as ideal choices. Why? Basically, because they may meet them all. They are, of course, easy and practical to carry and eat, which is rule number one. Moreover: there is enough with a handful of them, which enhances their comfortable transportability.
But, more importantly, most of nuts and dried fruits are high in fiber and also contain vitamins and minerals among other interesting nutrients which may help provide satiety more efficiently than most traditional snacks do. The above-mentioned 2016 study concluded that “whole foods high in protein, fiber, and whole grains (e.g., nuts, yogurt, prunes, and popcorn) enhance satiety when consumed as snacks”.
Almonds, for example, were tested as a mid-morning snack on women and they turned out to “generate satiety and appropriate adjustment of subsequent food intake”. This means that almonds not only mitigated short-term hunger, but also had a long-run influence: the mid-morning almond snack led women to present lower appetite at lunch and dinner time, according to this study published in 2014.
Nevertheless, it is not only about nuts. Dried fruits also result in a smart snacking choice. This study, for instance, showed similar properties about prunes. According to it, “the addition of dried prunes to a snack seems to promote satiety besides providing valuable nutrients”.
That is the third pillar. If it were not enough, nuts and dried fruits have an interesting nutritional profile which may help provide satiety.
In another project published in 2016, researchers found that regular nut consumption may help improve nutrient profiles compared to other snacks. Specifically, the study compared the effects of hazelnuts, potato chips and chocolate, and it concluded that “significant improvements in diet quality were observed in the hazelnut group, particularly when consumed as snacks”. Hazelnut intake was proven to increase amounts of monounsaturated fat -considered a “heart-healthy” fat- and vitamin E, whereas saturated fat and carbohydrate were significantly lower.
Similar conclusions were produced by the USA’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Nhanes). The between-meal snacks of nearly 18,000 people, both children and adults, were replaced by a measured nut composite, and results showed that replacing between-meal snacks with tree nuts or almonds led to more nutrient-rich diets.
Again, dried fruits deserve prominence in this regard. When researchers compared raisins to processed snacks on glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in a 12-week trial, they concluded that regular consumption of raisins may reduce glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure rate.
In conclusion: nuts and dried fruits are practical, easy to carry and quick to eat; and they are associated to satiating and interesting nutritional properties. They hence meet every needed requisite in order to be considered today’s perfect snack. Don’t they?Comments
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