Healthy snacking is hard to do: survey

According to the results of a market research survey, consumers in the US say it's hard to find healthy snacks around them.

A month into 2012, when resolutions begin to dissolve and fade, a new Mintel survey released last week found that almost half, or 46 percent, of respondents said it's difficult to find a healthy snack when hunger pangs strike, be it from vending machines or on-the-go locations.

In recent years, a spate of US upstarts like Vend Natural, Fresh Healthy Vending and H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending have launched to reverse the junk food machine status quo by replacing chip and soda-laden dispensers with dried apple slices, organic juices and fresh carrot sticks. 

Another 16 percent of respondents also said they believe it takes more time to prepare healthy snacks than guiltier pleasures.

To satisfy the 3 pm munchies, the Mayo Clinic suggests reaching for snacks that clock in at about a hundred calories or less.

Not surprisingly, the best options are fruits and vegetables, whole grain snacks like crackers and crispbreads, nuts and seeds and low-fat dairy products like cheese and yogurt. 

But experts caution that portion control is also important, as what's intended to be a light snack can in fact become nearly half a day's worth of calories.

For example, a handful of almonds, equal to about 14 nuts, contains 100 calories. But eat a cup's worth, and that jumps to 800 calories.

A 100-calorie snack can also be one cup of sliced bananas or raspberries, two cups of carrots or 2 tbsp. of peanut butter.

While, for the most part, Mintel respondents were also able to identify fruits, vegetables and nuts as healthy snack options, a surprising percentage of people also rated ice cream (12 percent) and cookies (9 percent) as healthy foods.

In a year-long study published in December, researchers found that women dieters who indulged in a mid-morning snack lost less weight compared to women who abstained.

 

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