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A lot of people like to snack. Whether we choose to munch on flavored potato chips or apple slices dipped in caramel, people use snacks as an in-between mini meal to satiate their hunger. In America, a little over 30% of consumed empty calories per day come from snacks, and the average American consumes 2.35 snacks a day.

Depending on the choice of snack, snacks can be a healthy or harmful addition in our diet. Although snacks are not a necessary element to our diet, a healthy snack can provide nutrition, such as a peach for a daily serving of fruit, and can increase our blood sugar levels when your body is running low on glucose, which can alleviate mood switches and provide energy. Moreover, snacks aid in appetite and weight control by preventing overeating during mealtime.

To prevent overconsumption, check the dietary recommendation listed in the nutritional facts.

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The downside to snacking comes from overconsumption. Eating too many snacks can add extra calories to your diet and consequently, add pounds. Even worse, eating too much of a bad snack can lead to negative long-term effects like obesity, high cholesterol, and even tooth decay. Eating snacks in place of a meal is also harmful as a critical source of nutrients is being replaced with snacks that lack such nutrients.

A healthy snack should be one that contains a lot of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber but few calories, fats, sugars, and salt. Examples include fresh fruit and veggies, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, yogurt, smoothies, hummus, trail mix, and granola. On the flip side, snacks high in fats and calories with low nutritional value should be avoided as they do more harm than good.

Because snacks are not necessary to one’s diet, snacking should be done minimally. The best times to snack are after an hour-long (or longer) workout and when you’re going for more than 4 hours without eating. After intense exercising and using significant amounts of energy, the body needs to be replenished with sugar. Likewise, our bodies needs to eat every 4 hours; so when we pass this time limit, our body begins to lose energy.

Therefore, if you choose to snack, make sure you make healthy choices that benefit your body and remember to eat when your body needs the extra boost as bad snacking can have adverse consequences.

Feature Image Source: Snacks by Hail Merry

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