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Is it Snack Time?

When working hard, as I know you do, I wonder what you reach for mid-afternoon to give yourself a little boost to get to the end of the day?


Cake, biscuits, crisps or chocolate seem the obvious choice, but even if you eat healthy meals for lunch and in the evening, reaching for a snack high in fat and sugar could undermine all the benefits of your good food choices.

Dr Sarah Berry, a Reader in nutritional sciences at Kings College, London highlights that researchers found that half of the participants in a recent study do not match the healthiness of their meals to their snacks. Dr Berry says that this difference has a negative effect on health measures, such as blood sugar and fat levels, and addressing this could be a simple strategy to improve health.

Poor-quality snacks, such as highly processed food and sugary treats, were associated with poorer health markers and left people feeling hungry. 


Unhealthy snacks were linked with higher BMI, higher visceral fat mass and higher postprandial (the period after eating a meal) triglycerides (body fat) concentrations, all of which are associated with metabolic disease such as stroke, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

So, given this evidence, it’s easy to think that we shouldn’t snack at all, but that’s not the case - as long as the snacks were healthy.


People who ate high-quality snacks like nuts and fresh fruits frequently were more likely to have a healthy weight compared to those who don’t snack at all, or those who snack on unhealthy foods. Analysis also showed good quality snacks can also result in better metabolic health and decreased hunger.


Try nuts as a healthy snack

British Heart Foundation’s Senior Dietitian Victoria Taylor, says that although nuts are high in fat, it’s mainly healthier unsaturated fat. They contain protein, B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals, including iron, potassium, selenium, magnesium, zinc and copper.

Walnuts are also a vegetarian source of omega-3 fats: the kind found in flax, hemp and chia seeds.

Eating nuts and pulses as protein sources, rather than meat and dairy, has also been recommended as a way of eating that is more sustainable for our planet.


Because of their fat content, nuts are high in calories, so it’s best to limit your portion size to a small handful (30g)


If you keep an eye on portion sizes and avoid unhealthy additions like salt and sugar, nuts can be a healthy choice between or with your meals.

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