Americans love to snack, but this type of food is often filled with fat, sugar and other not so good for you ingredients. If you are looking for ways to live a healthier lifestyle, this list of heart healthy snacks is sure to help keep you on the right track.
Did you know that coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the US for both men and women? That is a frightening thought! Since my father died from coronary artery disease, I am trying to learn all that I can to help prevent this from happening to me.
The first Wednesday in November is healthy eating day. What better way to celebrate with some of these healthy snacks?
What is Coronary Artery Disease?
CAD occurs when the blood vessels of the heart become narrow, making it difficult for blood to easily flow to the heart. Symptoms of CAD are shortness of breath, fatigue, pain and, unfortunately, sometimes no symptoms at all.
It is important for all of us to take steps to prevent CAD to ensure that our arteries don’t become “clogged.” Making lifestyle changes can help manage coronary artery disease. Medications are often chosen as the first line of treatment and in some cases surgery may be needed.
Risk Factors For CAD
There are various risk factors for coronary artery disease. These include being male, your family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, inactivity and high stress. Unfortunately, being older is even a risk.
Some small changes for a healthier lifestyle – start with smart snacking
What makes a good snack? For many people, the answer to this question is that it is one (or all) of these things:
- It’s salty
- It’s sweet
- It’s crunchy
- It’s chewy
- It makes you feel good
Notice the top two requirements? Both sugar and salt are foods that it has been recommended that we limit if we are concerned about our hearts. Does that mean that we can’t snack anymore if we want to keep our hearts healthy
The answer is a big NO! It just means making some adjustments to get the same feeling that not so healthy snacks deliver.
Tips for Incorporating the Best Heart Healthy Snacks into your Diet
I am proud to share these 30 Healthy Heart Snacks as a reminder that healthy food can not only be good for you, it’s also great to use for tasty snacking. Perhaps it’s time we all take a good look at our snacking habits to find some ways to make them more heart healthy.
Note: Not all cardiac diet snacks, swaps and recipes are right for everyone. Before making any changes to your diet, you may want to talk to your doctor and should follow your doctor’s guidelines or dietary restrictions for heart disease.
For easy access to these healthy snack ideas, print out this chart and attach it to the inside of a cupboard door. When you are in the mood for a snack, have a quick look to make some smart choices.
Healthy Salty Snack Ideas
If you are going to go for a salty taste, limit the amount of actual salt that you use and choose something that is healthier as a base. Some good options are:
- Sweet Potato Fries with a healthy ranch dip
- Kale Chips seasoned with herbs and garlic
- Edamame (one of my favorites)
- Oven roasted chick peas with spices and black pepper
- Watermelon and feta cheese with balsamic vinegar
- Dill pickles
Staying away from traditional packaged salty snacks and adding something more nutritious not only fills you up more but also is far better for your heart. The foods are so good; you might even find you don’t need as much salt (a bonus)!
Sweet Snacks That are Healthy
Refined sugar is inflammatory and leads to weight gain and high blood pressure, all of which are hard on your heart. Instead of using regular sugar try one of these sweet snacks:
- Dark chocolate dipped strawberries
- Frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in nuts or coconut
- Dark chocolate covered almonds
- Sliced Apples with a drizzle of coconut butter
- Almond Milk smoothie with fresh fruit and Stevia leaf
- Greek Yogurt Parfait with raspberries and a grating of dark chocolate
- Frozen Grapes – (These also help to keep a mocktail or sparkling water cold without watering down the drink.)
Crunchy Healthy Heart Snacks
For me, the biggest appeal of a snack food is the crunch that you get from it. This doesn’t have to mean crackers, pretzels and chips. Serve these crunchy snacks when friends come over for a healthier option.
Don’t forget that mocktails don’t need alcohol to taste great! Try one of these crunchy snack foods with a pineapple mocktail.
- Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Heart healthy nuts like cashews and almonds (unsalted are the best for heart health.)
- Oven dried Banana Chips
- Home made trail mix with heart healthy ingredients
- Air popped popcorn
- Sliced Radishes
- Carrot sticks
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Hummus for dipping with any crunchy vegetable
Most fresh vegetables add a nice crunch to a snack. Team them up with lite ranch dressings, dips made from Greek yogurt and varieties of hummus for a tasty treat.
Healthy Chewy Snacks
Chewy snacks take longer to eat than crispy ones and are usually quite dense so they stay with you and the urge to keep on snacking is minimized. Here are some healthy options:
- Energy Bites (These coconut energy bites taste great and are gluten free and dairy free.)
- Dried fruit such as raisins and cranberries
- Dark Chocolate (a little goes a long way)
- Dates rolled in coconut
- Home made fruit leather
- Oatmeal cookies made with rolled oats and maple syrup (Here is a recipe with no fat in it.)
- Home made granola bars made with nut butters and chia seeds
Heart Healthy snacks on the go
Do you have a busy life and find that you need snacks when you are out an about? No problem! Many of these heart healthy treats and snacks are natural foods and are ideally suitable for a busy lifestyle.
- Dried fruit and nuts comes in individual sized packages to make for easy eating.
- Cut up veggies and put them into zip lock bags and keep them in the fridge so they are ready to go.
- Dark Chocolate – super easy to carry around.
- And fresh fruit is the easiest of all snacks. Just grab and go!
One of the added benefits of indulging in heart healthy foods like these is that they have more protein and fiber in them, which makes you feel full.
You may even find that you are looking less for something to snack on, and instead of something to use up the extra energy you will receive. Time to go for a walk – that is also good for your heart!
Pin these heart healthy snack ideas for later
Would you like a reminder of these snacks that are good for a healthy heart? Just pin this image to one of your healthy living boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.