What do you look for when buying a snack? Taste? Convenience? Price? If you are like a growing number of New York City consumers, you are evaluating your snacks for fiber, protein, and sugar before you purchase them. According to Gil Bakal, managing director at A&B Ingredients, “protein and fiber are the two most popular ingredients consumers demand, and the trend crosses Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers.”
Don’t confuse the new demand for protein with the existing market for high-protein-based meal replacement items. These new snacks contain a moderate level of protein and are meant to hold the New York City consumer over until their next meal, not function as a post-workout snack or meal replacement. According to recent research, consumers are looking for proteins that are less processed, offer a wide range of health benefits, and taste good. Plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and a handful of grains meet all of those requirements and more.
So, what are legumes? Legumes are what most of us call beans, lentils, or peas. But, looking at it that way doesn’t acknowledge the wide variety of legumes or their nutritional power. Here’s a list of just some of the legumes that are available: adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, broad beans or fava beans, calico beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans or chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, peanuts, pinto beans, and soybeans or edamame. These tiny powerhouses are
- An excellent source of protein, low in fat, and a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber
- Nutrient dense or contain a high number of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients relative to the number of calories
- Helpful for weight control and reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon and other cancers
Nuts often get a bad rap because of their high number of calories, but one doesn’t need to eat a lot of nuts to get a great nutritional benefit. Nuts often help lower LDL or bad cholesterol and contain Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, and L-arginine, a substance that makes the artery walls more flexible. Here are a few of the more commonly used nuts and their benefits.
- Almonds: high in magnesium, calcium, vitamin E, and selenium; lower LDL or bad cholesterol, and helps preventing colon cancer because of the high fiber content
- Walnuts: support brain function, improve heart health, and cognitive function; contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant, and 16 disease-fighting polyphenols
- Pistachios: help with heart health, weight management, and digestion, and protect against diabetes and hypertension
- Cashews: high in vitamins E, K, and B6, copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium
- Brazil Nuts: high in heart-healthy nutrients and minerals like copper, niacin, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, and selenium
Even though seeds are small, they pack a huge nutritional punch. Many seeds contain fiber, protein, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory. Seeds are known to help prevent weight gain, the accumulation of LDL or bad cholesterol, and the development of heart disease. Here’s a list of a few of the more well-known seeds.
- Hemp: contains 10 essential amino acids and disease-fighting phytosterols and 40% fiber; supports heart health
- Sunflower: high in folate, good fats, vitamin E, selenium, and copper; supports heart health and works against cellular damage
- Sesame: high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, vitamin B1, and phosphorus; contains lignans (cholesterol-fighting fibers), lowers blood pressure and protects the liver
- Pumpkin: high in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, carotenoids, an antioxidant that supports the immune system, and phytosterols or plant components that help stabilize cholesterol
- Chia: contains fiber, protein, 34% pure omega-3 fatty acids, various antioxidants, and calcium; stabilize blood sugar, promote heart health, and increase weight loss
The grains listed here are ones that usually don’t appear at the top of a most popular grain list. Quinoa, wild rice, and oats offer health benefits that can turn almost any snack into a healthy one.
- Quinoa: contains fiber, iron, lysine, B2 (riboflavin), manganese, and magnesium; reduces high blood pressure and diabetes, lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, and helps keep red blood cells healthy
- Wild Rice: high in antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamin C, phosphorous, and zinc; helps with heart health, digestion, and bone strength and density, and boosts the immune system
- Oats: contains beta-glucan (a type of fiber), avenanthramides (an antioxidant), and magnesium; helps lower cholesterol levels, the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, and helps fight infection
Which of these healthy ingredients would your New York City employees or students like to see in their next snack? Make the process of locating healthy snacks and beverages easier for them by including vending machines from Healthy Vending in your office breakroom or school. Contact us at 917.572.3671 to learn more about our line of products and vending solutions.