Healthy Snacks for a Happy Heart
Nearly every woman I talk with this time of year is determined to shed those pesky post-holiday pounds. The season of indulgence is not over––Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the heart-shaped boxes are already lining store shelves. One of my solutions to this concern is to include more nuts and seeds in my daily diet. They may be small in size, but they are a power-house of nutrition. Here’s a short list to include in your snacks or as an addition to winter soups, muffins, breads or ground and sprinkled on hot cereals:
Almonds: Rich in calcium, magnesium, Vitamin-E, protein, fiber and antioxidants
Chia Seeds: Contain omega-3 fatty acids to improve energy and recover from a bad mood; rich in fiber, calcium and protein; the anti-inflammatory properties of chia may stave off heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Use the seed to bring some crunch and texture to your morning oatmeal or be blended into a creamy midday smoothie.
Flax Seeds: A powerful anti-inflammatory that may prevent heart damage and be cancer-protective; rich in fiber, calcium and potassium; grind the seeds and mix them into homemade breads, yogurt, and cereal to increase the health benefits.
Hemp Seeds: For vegans, this is a great plant-based protein that’s easy to sprinkle on to any meal; they’re also rich in essential amino and fatty acids and vitamins E and B.
Pomegranate Seeds: These juicy seeds offer potent anti-aging and anti-inflammatory health benefits; with high content of antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, pomegranate seeds are a perfect complement to a winter salad or whole-grain side dish.
Sprouted seeds: Technically these are not actually seeds but a stage in seed development; nutrient-dense superfood source of invigorating enzymes, essential vitamins, and minerals produced when seeds are actively germinating. Use them to improve your digestion and rid your body of excess acid, since they are naturally alkalizing. Popular varieties include sprouted chia, sesame, hemp, and daikon.
Squash seeds: Heart-healthy seeds from acorn, butternut, pumpkin or spaghetti squash can be roasted and eaten as a healthy snack; a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, a proven natural sleep aid, making them a good before-bedtime snack. Also contain bone-healthy calcium and zinc, protein, and have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Pumpkin seeds provide excellent sources of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin K, zinc, and protein. Additional benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, bone protection and prostate health.
Sunflower Seeds: High in calcium, copper, and magnesium, a combination that may improve bone health and joint mobility. Sunflower seeds also contain cell-protecting vitamin E, and the cancer fighting and cardio-protective antioxidant selenium.
Walnuts: Provide heart-healthy oils (Omega-3 and Alpha-Linolenic-Acid), Vitamin-B6, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin-E and other antioxidants
The great thing about nuts and seeds, is that a few will fill you. Some may worry about the fat content or calorie count, but these little treasures pack so much nutrition and healing, and that outweighs the concerns. Remember, the fats are heart healthy essential fatty acids.
Enjoy these heart healthy snacks and the chocolate hearts! Savor the Season.