Snacking quality is more beneficial than snacking quantity.

Snacking quality is more beneficial than snacking quantity.

Researchers examined the effects of snack quantity, quality, and timing on cardiometabolic health.

They discovered that greater cardiometabolic health was most strongly associated with higher quality snacks—not necessarily amount or timing. The results imply that a healthy diet may include high-quality snacking.

Over 90% of adults in the United States consume one or more snacks everyday, with the majority eating in between snacks. According to studies, snacking has become more common and more substantial over the past few decades.

Few studies have looked into the health impacts of snack quantity, quality, and timing, even though snacks make up around 20% of the energy consumed in the American diet. Dietary recommendations may be improved by learning more about the effects of snacking on health.

Researchers have recently looked into the connection between snacking behaviour and cardiometabolic health.

They discovered that the most significant relationship between snack quality and health outcomes was not necessarily timing or frequency. Better cardiometabolic health has been linked to higher-quality snacks.

The statistics highlight the critical role that food quality plays in maintaining good health. Diet is the foundation of good health, and there are numerous ways to get the nutrients we require. High-quality, nutritious mini meals’ may be a useful supplement to a well-balanced diet,” according to Dr. Elizabeth R. Raskin, surgical director of the Margolis Family IBD Programme at Hoag Hospital. She was not involved in the study.

Analysing the length and content of snacks

The researchers used data from 1,001 UK-based volunteers with an average age of 46 for the study. The average BMI of 73% of females was 25.6; this is considered to be somewhat overweight.

Self-reported snacking quantity, quality, and timing were included in the data. Also, with insulin levels and cardiometabolic indicators such as blood lipids and glucose.

The participants self-monitored for 2-4 days, defining higher-quality snacks as those with appreciable levels of nutrients in relation to calories.

The majority of the participants—roughly 95%—ate an average of 2.28 snacks per day or at least one per day. An average of 22% of daily calories were consumed as snacks.

In the end, the researchers discovered that stronger blood lipid and insulin responses were associated with higher-quality snacking. They also discovered that eating most snacks after 9 o’clock at night was associated with higher blood lipid and glucose levels.

However, they pointed out that there was no connection between the frequency of snacks, the number of calories ingested, or the amount of food with any of the indicators of cardiometabolic health.

After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, education, physical activity levels, and the size of the main meal, the results were still valid.

Constraints of the research

Limitations, according to Dr. Raskin, include relying on self-reports for information about snack consumption and composition, which can be subject to forgetting.

She continued by saying that the study participants’ metabolic needs were unknown. Also, there was insufficient data on the make-up and consumption of the participants’ normal meals.

Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., is a senior clinical dietician at the UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles. He was also not engaged in the study, was also the subject. She pointed out that 2-4 days is a condensed period for nutritional assessment and to observe results.

The study’s only non-participant, Dr. Jaclyn Albin, an associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Centre, also pointed out that the individuals were largely female, in their mid-40s, and with BMI-slightly overweight.

Thus, it is yet unclear how these findings would relate to other racial or ethnic groups, particularly those who have already received a metabolic disorder diagnosis.

Healthy snack suggestions

The owners of Focused Nutrition and Wellness, integrative brain health nutritionist Dani Felber, who was not participating in the study, were questioned by experts about what a nutritious snack might entail.

She mentioned the following as examples of balanced, healthful snacks:

  • vegetables with hummus
  • with guacamole, peppers
  • nut butter and sliced apples
  • Greek yoghurt and fruit
  • a few nuts or seeds that have been gently salted

As long as you select nutrient-dense snacks that are well-balanced with protein, fat, or fibre, you can have snacks whenever you feel hungry in between meals. These nutrients prevent a high blood sugar rise that can cause lethargy and sugar cravings, which is a particular issue for people who are prone to afternoon energy slumps and nighttime cravings, by slowing digestion and delaying glucose absorption.

Felber stated that late-night snacking is frequently associated with inferior food choices, such as high-fat snacks or sugary treats, which may contribute to fewer favourable health markers.

The negative consequences of late-night snacking, she added, may be lessened if you pay attention to the quality of your evening snacks and couple any carbohydrate-rich items with wholesome sources of protein, fat, or fibre.

Dr. Albin noted that another way to make snacking healthier is to pay attention to our bodies and only eat when we are truly hungry.

Many people may munch when they are bored or upset, and this habit might keep them from making the best decisions. According to Dr. Jaclyn Albin, the appropriate time to snack depends on each person’s appetite, activity level, timing of meals, and general health. Late-night snacking is generally to be avoided.

Snacking ought to be private.

Dr. Raskin emphasised the need of timing and eating snacks in accordance with one’s specific nutritional requirements.

For instance, a patient who needs to gain weight may need to concentrate on consuming more high-calorie snacks throughout the day. Similar to this, a diabetic patient may need to choose lower glycemic foods that yet provide them a surge of energy while assisting in the maintenance of stable insulin levels.

In general, it’s advised to avoid late-night munching if you’ve already reached your daily calorie target. A healthy food before night may be beneficial for someone with high metabolic needs, such as a high-performance athlete,” she added.


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