5 Things To Look For In A Healthy Office Snack

by / ⠀Office Snacks / February 12, 2019

Snackmakers love to pretend every snack they sell is healthy. But the truth is, many “healthy” snacks aren’t the smart choices they claim to be.

Take baked potato chips. Their fat content may be lower than their fried counterparts, but that’s not saying much. A one-cup serving of baked potato chips still contains 60 percent of the fat found in regular chips. Plus, they tend to make up for the low fat content with additional sodium, too much of which can cause high blood pressure or even stroke.

Separating truly healthy snacks from imposters takes careful research. Unfortunately, whether you’re shopping for yourself or for your entire office, you just don’t have that kind of time while standing in the grocery store.

Spotting Healthy Office Snacks

So how can you tell at a glance whether an office snack is healthy or not? Look for the following attributes:

1. Only natural colors

Artificial dyes are one of those “never ever” ingredients. Not only do they have no nutritional value, but the list of their health risks grows longer and more varied every day. Blue No. 2, for example, causes increased incidence of brain tumors in rats. The most common dye, Red No. 40, can trigger allergy-like food sensitivities and hyperactivity in some consumers, particularly children.  

Although the European Union requires manufacturers to add warning labels to foods with artificial colors, the U.S. has no such requirement. Instead, look at the office snack’s ingredient list. Bright foods should include a natural colorant. The orange in our cheddar cheese bites, for example, comes from annatto, a derivative of achiote seeds.

2.No added sugar

Although many fruit-based office snacks do contain sugar, it’s not the “free” sugar that promotes tooth decay, diabetes, and weight gain. For these reasons, the World Health Organization recommends consumers get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. For an adult following a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, that’s about one soft drink’s worth of sugar.

Fortunately, the FDA recently made it much easier to determine whether an office snack has added sugars. The regulatory body now requires most U.S.-based foodmakers to add a line to their nutritional label to disclose sugars that don’t occur naturally in the food. To satisfy that sweet tooth in a healthy way, try dried mango, pineapple, or apple office snacks.

3.Low sodium

Sodium overconsumption is one of America’s great unaddressed health crises. Between 50 and 70 million Americans have hypertension, and they could all benefit from eating less salt. Excess sodium consumption has been linked to diseases ranging from stroke to osteoporosis to stomach cancer to kidney failure.

Of course, most office snacks contain some sodium, and sodium is a necessary nutrient. The key is to look for healthy snacks with 120 or fewer milligrams of the salty stuff per serving, which equates to about 5 percent of the recommended daily value. Our kung pao pretzels, for example, include just 105 milligrams of sodium per serving without sacrificing taste due to their savory spices.

4. 15 or fewer grams of carbohydrates

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Some, like sugars, tend to spike blood sugar levels for little nutritional payoff. Others, like the starches found in beans and root vegetables, provide energy with a hearty side of vitamins and minerals.

With that said, discerning the healthy carbs from the not-so-healthy carbs can be difficult at a glance. Dried fruit, for example, contains both varieties — but in unknown proportions due to vague labeling. When in doubt, look to office snacks like nuts and lentil crisps, which satisfy with healthy fats and proteins.

5. At least 2 grams per serving of fiber

Fiber is one of those nutrients that’s tough to get too much of. Not only does fiber promote digestive regularity, but it can also lower cholesterol levels and promote weight loss. Office snacks that contain legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds tend to be great sources of this nutrient. Our roasted salted almonds, for instance, contain four grams of fiber per serving.

Does it matter whether an office snack’s fiber is soluble or not? Not really. Neither type is absorbed by the body, and both promote intestinal and heart healthy. Both can cause gas and bloating in excess, but gradual increases in fiber consumption can prevent these symptoms.

Snackmakers make big claims on their packaging, but nutrition labels don’t lie. Check office snacks for the things your mother taught you to — salt, sugar, and fat — but don’t forget to look at the ingredient list below. Although the science continues to evolve on artificial colors and flavors, existing studies indicate it’s best to steer clear. Follow these five simple rules, and you’ll get it right more often than not.

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