Refining our Definition of Healthy Snacks

Everyone snacks, and growing numbers of us are becoming interested in healthy snacking. A handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, or perhaps a serving of yogurt should get the job done, right?

Not so fast! A closer look reveals that something as seemingly simple as healthy snacking is more fraught with peril than you might think. Below are two common snacks of healthy eaters and the potential problems associated with them.

Many healthy snackers often turn to nuts as a “go-to” snack, unaware of the risks. First off, you might ask shelled_nutswhy nature equips nuts with a protective shell. Why do nuts need protection? The most prized nutrients contained in nuts are the healthy fats protected by an outer shell. The problem is that the fats contained in nuts are susceptible to toxic oxidation rancidity from heat exposure as well as aspergillus mold proliferation from moisture.

Removing nuts from their shells may make them easier to get at, but it also increases the risk of rancidity and mutational mold exposure for consumers. Studies have linked rancidity to advanced aging, neurological disorders, heart disease, and cancer. Similarly, aspergillus molds have been linked to everything from headaches to lung infections, neurological conditions, and even cancer. Moreover, even when nuts are left in their shell, there’s no telling just how much heat and moisture they were exposed to in transit. Because they are so nutrient-rich, nuts are a great healthy snack choice, but due to the risks, choose walnuts and almonds in a shell!

Yogurt has been a common healthy snack choice for decades. Most are drawn to its protein as well as its friendly bacteria, but few are aware of yogurt’s inflammatory potential. Where we used to think of inflammation as an achy joint, we now know that it represents biochemical changes responsible for the genetic expression of nearly three quarters of all disease, including heart disease and cancer.

It works something like this: Dairy products like yogurt contain a fat called arachidonic acid, known to trigger the production of inflammatory compounds which can contribute to a plethora of symptoms. To make things worse, the average serving of yogurt contains approximately 26 grams of added sugar. Sugar requires insulin, and unfortunately, insulin is an inflammatory hormone. Cows’ yogurt then is generally associated with two potential inflammatory agents, arachidonic acid and insulin. Therefore, if you’re suffering from a chronic inflammatory condition like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, you may want to skip the yogurt.

My advice is to add 2 teaspoons of organic hemp protein powder to 6 ounces of organic coconut yogurt. The friendly bacterial cultures are the same as cows’ yogurt. The coconut factor provides superior nutrition with its medium chain triglycerides (good fat), and the hemp protein powder balances out the sugar index.

As you can see, factors such as mold and hidden sugar content, as well as inflammatory fats, are all important considerations when it comes to designing a truly healthy snacking plan. So take your snacks seriously.

Mark Mincolla, PhD, is a visionary natural healthcare practitioner who has transformed the health of thousands of people over the past thirty years through his Whole Health Healing System, an integration of ancient Chinese energy techniques and cutting-edge nutritional science that utilizes food as the primary medicine. Dr. Mincolla is the author of The Whole Health Diet: A Transformational Approach to Weight Loss.

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