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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Choosing Pretzels as a Healthy Snack Alternative



Finding healthy snacks that go along with your fitness program is not easy. The amount snacks with bad carbohydrates, processed and fatty foods are everywhere and making better choices is difficult. Americans suffer from extra pounds that are caused by a lethargic lifestyle and poor food choices. Pretzels are a great alternative to what you might find on your local supermarket shelf.  Whole wheat pretzels offer an even better snack option. It is these small decisions on an everyday basis that culminate to higher level of fitness and health. 

A 100-gram serving of pretzels (16) has about three grams of total fat and no cholesterol with 88%  consisting of healthy unsaturated fats while a comparable portion of potato chips have 36 grams of fat (1). Saturated fats and deep frying oil, often found in potato chips, add to cholesterol and body weight. Many pretzel brands are baked which lowers the negative effects. 

You may be concerned over the salt on pretzels. Sodium is a mixed debate in the health fields. For decades people believed that sodium raised cholesterol and blood pressure. According to research, when people cut back on sodium they experienced a 1% drop in blood pressure but also raised cholesterol levels by 2.5% and triglycerides by 7% (2). Salt is a mixed bag and doesn’t appear to have a positive or negative effect when eaten in moderation. 

The type of pretzel you buy appears to be the most important consideration. Some are processed flour, others sourdough and still others are whole wheat. The 100% whole wheat varieties are best. When they are sesame sticks, no trans fat, no cholesterol, no artificial colors, and no preservatives you have made the best choice. If you are a snack person, focus on making those small choices that lead to higher health instead of trying to change your entire diet all at once. When done well you can reduce heart disease by 25-46%, stroke 37%, type 2 diabetes 21-27%, cancer of digestive system 21-43%, hormone related cancer 10-40%, and obesity (3).

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