Love snacks? We do too! Snacking is something nearly everyone does. It keeps you satisfied between meals, can prevent overeating, and gives you energy throughout the day. Not all snacking is created equal, however. February is National Heart Month, which is a great opportunity to focus on your heart health. What you eat and drink can have a huge effect on your heart health as many foods can impact your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, inflammation and your risk for heart disease. For heart-healthy snacking, you’ll want to stick with fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Not sure where to start? Here are some of Carter’s favorite trucker-friendly snack ideas!
Raw fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are known for their many health benefits. It’s why the USDA recommends 5-13 servings per day depending on your age, gender, physical activity, and overall health. If you’re looking for the fruits and vegetables that specifically benefit your heart, have some grapes, berries, leafy greens, apples, bananas, grapefruit, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and green beans.
Chickpeas contain tons of fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, and selenium. Basically, these little beans pack a really good punch at heart disease. A single cup of chickpeas equals almost a third of your daily protein needs. You can make crispy roasted chickpeas in an oven or air fryer for a great crunchy snack.
Research shows that nuts like walnuts and almonds can help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improve your heart health. Choose raw or dry-roasted nuts over those that are cooked in oil. Just make sure to stick to portion sizes – even though nuts have great health benefits, they’re also nuts high in calories.
Air-popped, lightly seasoned popcorn is a great healthy snack option because it is a high fiber whole grain. Popping it yourself allows you to control how much salt or oil goes on it.
Whole grain crackers
If chips tend to be your favorite snack, try some whole grain crackers next time for a healthier alternative. Choose crackers that are made with whole grains, high in fiber, low in sodium, no artificial preservatives or food coloring, and little to no added sugar.
Unsweetened dried fruit
Dried fruit is a great snack option because it’s a great source of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. Make sure you’re choosing dried fruit with no sugar added and follow recommended portion sizes.
Green smoothies are a great way to increase your daily fruit and vegetable consumption because they’re rich in vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. One of the best things about smoothies is that you can customize it to your liking or switch out ingredients every time for a different flavor profile. Feel free to combine any ingredients you like, but some of the more common additions include a mix of leafy greens, a milk or milk alternative, fruits and other vegetables, nut butter or seeds, herbs and spices, or your favorite protein powder.
Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
Yogurt is high in protein, rich in calcium and other vitamins, and contains probiotics to help your digestive system. Choose unsweetened variations to reduce your sugar consumption. Instead, you can top your yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, chopped nuts, granola or a dash of cinnamon and honey.
Homemade energy balls
Energy balls are chock full of protein, healthy carbs and fats, and high in fiber. They’re also easy enough to make at home before you head out on the road. You can make your energy balls to your liking too. Common ingredients include nut butter, oats, a sweetener like honey or pure maple syrup, and your favorite mix-ins including flaxseeds, chia seeds, chocolate, dried fruit or coconut flakes.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to pass on chocolate. In fact, dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and is thought to lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol, and reduce your heart disease risk. Choose quality dark chocolate with a 70% of higher cocoa content and enjoy a square or two after dinner.
In many instances, heart disease can be preventable when you focus on healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep. At Carter, we’re invested in you. So, what are your health and wellness goals? We want to help you reach them too. If you’re looking for a carrier that’s supportive of your health goals and will help cheer you on, connect with Carter to hear about our driving opportunities. We think Carter might be a great place for you.