A study found that many people are eating unhealthy snacks along with their healthy meals, and this can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The study looked at the eating habits of 854 people. Almost all of them (95 percent) snacked, and they ate an average of 2.28 snacks per day. However, the study showed that snacking itself is not bad if the snacks are healthy and eaten at the right time.
In the UK, a lot of people like to snack. About 24 percent of the energy they get in a day comes from snacks like cereal bars, pastries, and fruit.
Nearly half (47 percent) of the people who snacked ate two snacks a day, and almost a third (29 percent) ate even more snacks. The most common snacks they ate were cookies, fruit, nuts, cheese, cakes, and granola bars. Surprisingly, 26 percent of the participants ate healthy meals but ate low-quality snacks in between. Experts from King’s College London say that fixing this by choosing better snacks could be an easy way to improve health.
People who ate good snacks like nuts and fresh fruits were more likely to have a healthy weight compared to those who didn’t snack at all or ate unhealthy snacks. On the other hand, eating poor-quality snacks, like processed foods and sugary treats, made people feel hungry and was linked to health problems like higher body weight, more harmful fat around their organs, and higher levels of fats in their blood. These can increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and obesity.
The snacks that contributed the most to calorie intake were cakes, breakfast cereals, ice cream, donuts, candy, cookies, and nuts. The timing of snacking also mattered. Snacking after 9 pm was linked to worse health markers compared to snacking at other times. People who snacked late tended to eat foods that were high in fat and sugar.
Dr. Sarah Berry, a scientist from King’s College London, said that since almost all of us snack, and a large part of our calories come from snacks, it’s a simple way to improve health by swapping unhealthy snacks like cookies and cakes for healthier options like fruit and nuts.
Dr. Kate Bermingham, another researcher, said that the study shows that the quality of food we eat is the most important factor for good health. Eating a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, protein, and legumes is the best way to stay healthy.
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