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The secret to staying energized is eating snacks and smaller, more frequent meals, according to Sharon Saka, a registered dietitian (RD) of Suffern, New York. You're simply refueling, keeping your energy levels constant, and regulating your blood sugar levels. Even better, eating the right combination of foods fuels your body all day and gives you that much needed boost -- especially for that late afternoon slump time. Since we're always on the run, we tend to rely on convenient, portable snack foods, like candy bars. But Saka suggests we ditch those high-fat, high-sugar snacks in favor of these healthier and rejuvenating options.Dried Apricots and Almonds
This combination provides you with almost 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin A, 20 percent of the iron you need, plus protein and dietary fiber. Both foods are low in cholesterol and sodium, and apricots are a great source of potassium, which is important in regulating your body's fluid balance. The vitamin A in apricots contributes to healthy vision, bone growth, and reproduction, and helps fight infection.Recommended Serving Size:
4 dried apricots, about 67 calories. 1 oz. of almonds, about 164 calories, is also high in fiber and will provide you with almost as much protein as 1 oz. of meat.Raisins and Yogurt
Raisins alone are a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-sodium snack with significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, copper, and iron. Mixed with low-fat yogurt, you also get riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B12, as well as 20 to 40 percent of your RDA for calcium. We need calcium for strong bones and teeth, but it's also important for normal functioning of the heart and other muscles.
Along with regulating fluid balance, potassium helps maintain the electrical stability of the cells of your heart and nervous system and is important for cell and muscle growth. Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, nerve function, and metabolizing protein and fat.Recommended Serving Size:
1.5 oz. raisins, 129 calories. 6 oz. yogurt, about 160 calories.Fresh Peach
Any fresh fruit, especially with skins or seeds like peaches, apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries, is a great source of vitamins and fiber. In the summer you can choose a peach and get plenty of dietary fiber, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, beta carotene and vitamin A, plus 20 percent of the RDA of Vitamin C. Niacin is important for providing energy for cell tissue growth.Recommended Serving Size:
1 large peach, about 60 calories.
One ounce of sesame sticks has 3 grams of protein. Eating them along with a handful of baby carrots will add significant amounts of beta carotene (more than 250 percent of the RDA), vitamin A (more than 40 percent of the RDA), vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper, and fiber.
Some studies show that diets high in beta carotene protect against some chronic illnesses like heart disease, and some cancers. We need vitamin A for healthy skin, for better night vision, and to fight infection and respiratory ailments. Folate (vitamin B9) is essential to human life, helping to form red blood cells and break down proteins, and playing a key role in cell growth and division.Recommended Serving Size:
1 oz. sesame sticks, 153 calories. 1/2 cup carrots, about 25 calories.Dried Soybeans or Soy Crisps
Both are a great choice for protein and dietary fiber. Soybeans also give you almost 40 percent of the RDA of iron and double the potassium that you'd get from a banana, but without as many carbs.
Soy crisps come in all sorts of flavors and also provide lots of vitamin C. Iron is necessary for healthy blood and muscle and for the transport of oxygen in the body. Vitamin C helps heal wounds, and protects against cancer and heart disease.Recommended Serving Size:
2 tablespoons dried roasted soybeans, about 93 calories. 1 small (18g) bag of soy crisps, 70 calories.Low-Fat Peanut Butter, with Wheat Bread or Celery
Peanut butter on some whole grain crackers is an excellent source of protein, iron, niacin, plus the complex carbohydrates from the crackers (which adds fiber). But peanut butter on celery would be a great snack too!
Celery is rich in dietary fiber and too many vitamins and minerals to mention!Recommended Serving Size:
1 tablespoon of low-fat peanut butter, 83 calories. 6 whole wheat crackers, about 106 calories. 2 stalks of celery, about 18 calories.Low-Fat String Cheese
String cheese is a good quick source of protein and calcium. They come in easy-to-carry individual servings and you can add a piece of fresh fruit for extra fiber.Recommended Serving Size:
1 oz. stick, 72 calories.
Sharon Saka is a Registered Dietitian, a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, and a Member of the American Dietetic Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
The author, Linda Kallman, is a health and family writer and the mother of two grown sons. She lives in Upper Nyack, New York.