Do you start the day with the good intention of eating healthily, only to get a rumbling tummy half way through the morning and end up succumbing to crisps or chocolate from the vending machine?
The NHS is urging everyone to wise up on calories and limit snacks to 100 calories, twice a day max.
Follow our tips on how to keep your energy and blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, top up on your 5-a-day and give your arteries a boost of heart healthy fats without clocking up the calories;
We regularly speak to people about their lifestyle choices and find that most people don’t achieve their 5-a-day. There are a number of reasons why this minimum amount is encouraged, not least because fruit and vegetables protect the heart and they are low in calories. So when preparing your evening meal, chop up a few extra carrots, peppers, celery or other crunchy veg and store in a sandwich bag for the next day. It’s a good idea to save a freezer bag of mixed berries so they are ready to defrost overnight and add into your breakfast cereal the next morning.
Go for the good carbs
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy balanced diet and an efficient energy supply to all cells, including your heart muscle. However, the types you choose can make all the difference to your heart health and energy levels. Avoid the vending machine trap by leaving all your loose change at home. Instead plan ahead by taking a healthy snack with you or keep a supply at work. A small handful of dried apricots, raisins or prunes will curb the hunger and sugar cravings and top up your iron stores.
Mop up cholesterol
Soluble fibre acts like a sponge, mopping up LDL (bad) cholesterol as it passes through your blood stream. You can get soluble fibre from a variety of foods known to be heart healthy, particularly fruit and vegetables and beta-glucan found in oats. Other foods containing mono-unsaturated fats are known to raise HDL (good) cholesterol which can protect your arteries.
It gets a little confusing at times knowing what’s good about some foods and how much a sensible portion size is to avoid tipping the scales on the calories. We’ve made this a little easier for you by giving ten 100 calorie snack ideas that we know are good for improving cholesterol levels;
- 200 ml glass oat, almond or soya milk
- 1 orange and 1 apple (you need to eat the skin to get all the benefits)
- 80g of mixed veg including sugar snap peas, celery and carrot sticks with 1 tbsp. homemade hummus
- 80g mixed berries topped with 1 tbsp. unsweetened muesli
- 50g avocado
- Small handful (15g) hazelnuts
- 2 quinoa crisp breads with 1 tbsp. homemade hummus
- 35g tofu - marinate in orange zest, lime juice and all spice to soften and serve with a large helping of green leaves such as spinach or rocket and chopped tomatoes
- ½ can tinned mackerel in tomato sauce heated
- 1 small slice wholemeal toast with ½ banana spread on top (no butter)