Daily wisdom: rethink your snacking habits

Why hummus, rice cakes, and crackers aren't necessarily healthier than sweet bites

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Five major chocolate and candy companies recently announced that they are committed to reducing the sugar and calories in many of their products sold in the U.S. While that’s great news, trend reports show that most Americans have already cut down on their candy consumption, with sales declining 2 percent from 2011 to 2016, according to Euromonitor International. During the same time period, however, the popularity of savory has risen almost 10 percent. Thus, athletes might not be making a healthy choice by satisfying savory cravings instead of sweet ones.


Whenever we cut a guilty pleasure from our diet, the benefit of that decision depends directly on what we do or do not replace it with, says Katherine L. Tucker, PH.D., professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. “Reducing sugar is necessary as it has been way too high in the US diet, but replacing it with crackers, chips, or high-sodium snacks may defeat the purpose,” she adds. After all, refined carbs spike your blood sugar and therefore energy levels, and increase your risk for a whole slew of diseases, as does excess salt. Homemade popcorn is great, as long as you don’t load it with salt and butter. Hummus is a healthy, savory snack if you eat it with vegetables sticks rather than scooping it onto the refined pretzels that come in the hummus snack packs.


Steering clear of added sugars will certainly do your body good, but replacing them with refined, savory snacks isn’t much better. Stick to fresh, whole foods whenever possible and you’ll avoid trouble in both categories, Tucker says.