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Smart Snacking: Eat for Energy, Your Immune System and More

Whole Foods_trailmixBy Linda Frahm, Writer and Editor, Whole Foods Market

You’re racing the clock once again, looking after everyone else’s needs before your own, and you cannot think straight because you are famished. So you grab a bag of chips, candy bar or soda because it’s easy and satisfying. Sigh. You are not alone. According to a 2014 Nielsen study, about one in four women said they snack three to four times daily, and while hunger cravings were the top reason for snacking, many women said they snack for stress relief, boredom or as an indulgence.

But the good news is that women can actually take very good care of themselves with thoughtful snacking. Choosing the right snacks can provide loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will benefit everything from energy levels to your heart and complexion, and can even help boost your immune system. In a world where women have learned the fine art of multitasking, perhaps it’s time we demand it of snacks as well. Here’s our list of favorite snacks that can satisfy hunger and keep us healthy at the same time:

Increase Your Energy

Whether you need a boost before a mid-morning meeting or a late-afternoon workout, your best bet is a snack that is high in protein or rich in B vitamins. Greek yogurt with granola, an apple with peanut butter and whole-grain crackers with hummus all pack a protein punch.

Protect Your Heart

Be good to your ticker with munchies that contain vitamins such as B6, B12, C, E and folic acid. Raisins, walnuts and almonds can be easily packed in small reusable snack containers and provide a heart-healthy boost. In a nutshell—homemade trail mix is the Best Ever Take-Along Snack.

Take Care of Your Bones

Snacks that are high in calcium and/or vitamin D will strengthen your skeleton. Pack a cooler with string cheese, a hard-boiled egg or even fortified cereal. Skip the soda and have a glass of skim milk, almond milk or orange juice.

Boost Your Immune System

Feeling under the weather? Or is everyone around the conference table coughing and sneezing? Try snacks that are rich in nutrients, such as vitamins C, A, E and selenium. This is all about eating whole foods and fresh produce. Kiwi, cantaloupe, grapefruit, nectarines, red bell peppers and carrots are easy to chop up, mix up or even blend up into a Homemade Smoothie.

Save Your Skin

Keep drinking that water, and treat yourself to snacks that keep skin looking its best with vitamins and minerals, such as A, C, copper and iron. The easiest way to start snacking right is by keeping a large water bottle at your desk all day, and when hunger strikes, fight back with fresh berries, plums and mangoes. Tired of fruit? Try hempseeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and even toss in a little dark chocolate.

To make shopping for snacks a breeze, seek out your local Whole Foods Market. Every product has been carefully evaluated, and the aisles are filled with only foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats, so you don’t have to spend oodles of time reading labels. Instead, you’ll have more time for yourself.