Heart-Healthy Snacks

From the WebMD Archives

You know you're going to snack. We all do! So you might as well make that snack help your health. It's possible, and it can be delicious.

"Reach for snacks that combine 2-3 food groups -- fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats -- and are satisfying," says nutritionist Maryann Jacobsen, RD.

You may be surprised by how many options you have. Try these items that are flavorful, satisfying, and easy to prepare.

When you're in a rush, reach for seeds or nuts (preferably with no salt or oil), or fruit. If you have a minute or two, put these pairings together.

Dark Chocolate Duo

Having a little bit of chocolate daily may lower your risk of stroke and heart attack. Dip a banana in melted dark chocolate, then let it harden in your refrigerator for a sweet, fiber-rich, potassium-loaded snack.

Or try dark chocolate-covered almonds for something sweet, crunchy, and rich in protein and good-for-you fat. Just keep your chocolate habit modest, so the calories and sugar don't add up.

Crackerwiches

These are mini-sandwiches you make with crackers. Put a little bit of peanut butter and banana on whole-grain crackers, or mustard and canned tuna, or any other mixture you like.

Edamame With Lemon

Edamame is another name for soybeans. They're naturally low in sodium and a good source of protein.

If you buy them in the pod, they’re quick and easy to steam or microwave. To thaw frozen edamame, run them under hot water. You can also buy them already shelled. Top them off with a squirt of lemon juice.

Apples With Nut Butter

Pair sliced apples with peanut butter or almond butter. Apples are loaded with fiber, and you’ll get a bonus by pairing them with a nut butter.

Eating nuts is linked to lower odds of getting heart disease, says nutritionist and chef Katie Cavuto, RD.

Yogurt Sundae

Dress up a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt (choose one with no added sugar) by topping it with crushed whole wheat cereal, sliced banana, and unsalted sunflower seeds.

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Or sprinkle antioxidant-rich dried cherries and pumpkin seeds on top, Cavuto suggests.

Mini Pizza

Top a whole-grain English muffin with chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of shredded, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and a pinch of dried oregano. Pop it in your toaster oven or oven broiler until the cheese melts.

Whole-Grain Salad

A dash of kitchen prep pays off with storage containers packed with flavorful, nutrient-rich, whole-grain salad.

Cook a batch of whole-grain pasta, brown rice, couscous, or quinoa. Let it cool. Mix in any combination of diced vegetables, fruits, or rinsed and drained beans. Add a dash of fresh lime juice and a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.

You'll get fiber and nutrients that are good for your heart, plus great taste.

Frozen Smoothie

Pour a cup of nonfat yogurt into a blender. Add a cup of fresh or frozen berries. Blend together, pour into a cup, then freeze for a treat that tastes like frozen yogurt but with no fat or added sugar, and lots of nutrients from the berries.

Crudité Plate

It's a fancy name for a plate of bite-size veggies with a dip. You'll get fiber and other nutrients for not that many calories.

Load a platter with lots of vegetables in bright colors, like cherry tomatoes, carrots, and green pepper. Anchor it with a healthy dip, like hummus or another bean dip.

“Beans, which are rich in soluble fiber, can decrease your LDL (bad) cholesterol,” Cavuto says.

You can also use a low-fat dip like salsa.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on May 16, 2014

Sources

SOURCES:

Katie Cavuto, MS, RD.

Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD.

American Heart Association: “Snacks and Appetizers,” “Go Red for Women: School Lunch, Snack Ideas for Kids, Parents,” “Go Red for Women: Homemade & Heart-Healthy Snacks For On-the-go,” “Black Bean and Brown Rice Salad.”

Zomer, E. BMJ, May 31, 2012.

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