A quarter of people are undoing the benefits of healthy meals with unhealthy snacks, which increases the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease.
The findings, published today in the European Journal of Nutrition by researchers from the School of Life Course & Population Sciences and ZOE, details the snacking habits of 854 people from the ZOE PREDICT study.
Researchers found that half of the participants do not match the healthiness of their meals to their snacks and vice versa. This difference has a negative effect on health measures, such as blood sugar and fat levels, and addressing this could be a simple diet strategy to improve health.
Dr Sarah Berry from King’s College London and chief scientist at ZOE said: “Considering 95% of us snack, and that nearly a quarter of our calories come from snacks, swapping unhealthy snacks such as cookies, crisps and cakes to healthy snacks like fruit and nuts is a really simple way to improve your health.”
The analysis showed that the UK is a nation of snackers, with 24% of our daily energy intake from snacks such as cereal bars, pastries and fruit. The average daily snack intake in people who snack — 95% of the cohort — was 2.28 snacks a day, with 47% of people eating two snacks a day and 29% of people eating more than two.
Contrary to popular belief, the analysis showed that snacking is not unhealthy — as long as the snacks were healthy. People who ate high-quality snacks like nuts and fresh fruits frequently were more likely to have a healthy weight compared to those who don’t snack at all or those who snack on unhealthy foods. Analysis also showed good quality snacks can also result in better metabolic health and decreased hunger.
However, a quarter (26%) of the participants reported eating healthy main meals and poor-quality snacks. Poor-quality snacks, such as highly processed food and sugary treats, were associated with poorer health markers and left people feeling hungry. Unhealthy snacks were linked with…
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