Heart healthy fruits for summer snacking - kiwi, mandarin oranges, apples, banana, and lime

Summer is here and that means it’s time to relax! And it doesn’t matter if you have kids on summer break or not – there’s just something about the stigma of summer that lets rules fly out the window. It’s like summer has a voice that calls to us saying, “Come play with me, don’t worry about anything else.”

And while summer fun is…FUN, often it can lead to a relaxed diet. Or at least, you may pay less attention to what you eat because IT’S SUMMER. And a diet of burgers, chips, and soda is totally nutritional, isn’t it? Plus, carbs don’t count in the summer, right? If only!

Good news is, eating healthy doesn’t have to dampen your summer fun. The key is planning out snacks and making them fun and easy!

 

6 Summer Snacks for a Healthy Heart

SO... Rather than raiding the pantry for the fullest bag of chips, try these tasty, heart-healthy snacks to fill those summer cravings. Because the least you can do is feed your body some nutritional snacks while you enjoy whatever summer has planned for you.

 

Pro-Tip #1: Prep your snacks for the week on Sunday and store them so they’re easy to grab when you have munchies. This way you’re less likely to grab junk food out of convenience.

 

  1. Frozen grapes and other things that crunch. 1 cup of frozen grapes only has 62 calories and no fat, it’s also high in potassium and vitamin C, which studies have shown lowers the risk of heart disease.[1] Look for fresh fruits and veggies that you like to eat, like apple or bell pepper slices; rice cakes, nuts, and seeds are also good to have. Having these on hand gives you a low-calorie high-nutrition snack that’s easy to grab and tasty to munch on.

    Prep by bagging up easy-to-grab portions of pre-washed grapes and storing them in the freezer. For other munchies – pre-slice, portion out, and store in easy to grab containers.

  1. Fresh fruit salad. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that relieve oxidative stress and inflammation,[2] and boost heart health. Including other fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, and pineapple (and more), helps you to get a broader compilation of nutrients, and most are also a good source of water – helps you stay hydrated!

    Prep by choosing your favorite fruits, rinse, chop, and toss in medium sized sealable container so it’s easy to serve out when you’re ready for a snack. Want it on the go? Toss a cup of the fruit salad and a cup of almond milk into a blender, blend for a minute and you’ve got a smoothie!

 

Pro-Tip #2: Have low-sugar or sugar-free drinks on hand like sparkling or plain water, soy or almond milk, and unsweetened tea or coffee. These are good ways to stay hydrated, without overdoing the sugar intake or liquid calories, and they can keep you from feeling too snackish.

 

  1. Carrots, celery, and hummus. Carrots and celery are both great snacks on their own, but sometimes you need a savory dip to go with your crunchy snack. Carrots are a fabulous source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. They’re known for boosting eye health, but they can also help lower cholesterol. Celery is rich in fiber which is a great digestive agent, and vitamin A which helps boost the immune system. It’s also full of antioxidants and the phytochemical known as phthalides – which promotes healthy blood flow and can help lower blood pressure. Paired with hummus, you end up with a super tasty, super healthy snack, because hummus contains several ingredients, like chickpeas, that reduce cholesterol and promote heart health.[3]

    Prep by bagging up portions of celery and carrots so they’re easy to grab. Some grocery stores carry single serving hummus cups, but if not, just portion out a serving of hummus when you’re ready to snack.

  1. Avocado or peanut butter on whole-grain toast. Avocados and peanut butter are particularly good sources of monounsaturated fat, which is the good fat that helps lower cholesterol.[4] Whole grains are full of fiber which supports heart health. This snack is quick and easy to put together, and it’s fun to come up with new combinations! Try adding banana slices on top of the peanut butter, or tomatoes and cheese flakes with the avocados. There is no end to tasty toast combos!

    A personal favorite combo of mine is peanut butter on multi-grain English muffins, with a dash of honey and cinnamon – YUM.

 

Pro-Tip #3: Choose healthy snacks that you’ll enjoy. Food is supposed to be fun, not a chore. You’ll feel more satisfied with your choices if you enjoy eating them.

 

  1. Whole grain crackers and canned tuna. Tuna is an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease blood pressure[5] and are wonderful for your heart. Make this tasty treat by mixing it with a tiny bit of mayo and spreading it across some whole grain crackers. Want to switch it up? Try it with salmon or swap the mayo for avocado or relish!

    A personal favorite combo is tuna mixed with horseradish and sweet pickle relish, spread on whole wheat crackers – SO GOOD!

  1. Chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are a solid source of the antioxidant quercetin, which is linked with reducing heart disease. And they’re high in fiber, which can help lower high blood pressure and improve blood sugar levels. If you want to take your nutrition up a notch, add some reishi mushrooms to the mix. Our delicious Chocolate Chia Reishi Pudding recipe gives you a healthy dose of chia nutrition and reishi immune-boosting power.

 

Women trying to choose between healthy fruits or donuts

 

You’re in charge of your diet.

Whatever tasty snacks you end up eating, the important thing to remember is to avoid, or at least minimize consumption of, processed foods and excess salt and sugar. These foods tend to be low in nutrients and calorie dense. They won’t fill you up for very long and you’ll probably end up feeling snackish more than you’d like. Don't forget, there’s more to summer than eating all the time!

 


 

Sources

[1] Knekt, Paul et al. “Antioxidant vitamins and coronary heart disease risk: a pooled analysis of 9 cohorts.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 80,6 (2004): 1508-20. doi:10.1093/ajcn/80.6.1508

[2] Zafra-Stone, Shirley et al. “Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention.” Molecular nutrition & food research vol. 51,6 (2007): 675-83. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700002

[3] Bazzano, L A et al. “Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD vol. 21,2 (2011): 94-103. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2009.08.012

[4] Siri-Tarino, Patty W et al. “Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 91,3 (2010): 502-9. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26285

[5] Ramel, Alfons et al. “Moderate consumption of fatty fish reduces diastolic blood pressure in overweight and obese European young adults during energy restriction.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 26,2 (2010): 168-74. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2009.04.002

June 21, 2021

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