Chocolate or Chips?

The results of a survey on snacking habits from around the world was recently released, shedding some interesting light on trends from around the world about what we like to snack on. The Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries about their snacking habits. The question that was asked was, “Which snacks did you consume in the past 30 days?” The tally from people living in the United States was as follows:

  • Chips – 63%
  • Chocolate – 59%
  • Cheese – 58%
  • Cookies – 56%
  • Fresh Fruit – 55%
  • Bread/Sandwich – 48%
  • Crackers – 48%

Globally, the top snack chosen was chocolate. Fruits and vegetables were ranked second and third, respectively.

If someone asked you what your favorite snack was, how would you respond? Americans seem to have an unmatched love for salty chips, followed closely by chocolate. It’s good to see that fresh fruit did make the list! Here are some other healthy snack ideas for you to consider when the urge to snack arises:

S – String cheese, sugar-free cereal, string beans, strawberries, smoothies, soy nuts

N – Nonfat yogurt, nonfat milk, nuts, natural fruit juice, natural peanut butter on celery

A – Apple, air-popped popcorn, almonds, apple butter on whole-wheat toast

C – Carrots, cantaloupe, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, Craisins®

K – Kiwi, kohlrabi slices, kabobs of assorted fruits

If it’s hard to kick the chips and chocolate habit, keep in mind that portion control is also an important consideration. A serving of chips is usually about 10-15 chips — you can look at the serving size listed on the package to determine the portion size of your favorite brand. It’s much easier to control the portion size if you take out one serving and then put the bag of chips back in the cupboard. Snacking out of the bag isn’t a good idea if you’re trying to limit the amount you eat.

The same principle applies to chocolate. Small amounts of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can have some heart-healthy benefits. But chocolate is also high in fat and usually contains sugar, and that can make for a high-calorie snack if you’re not watching the amounts you eat.

All around the globe, people are eating more snacks. The global snacking market grew by 2 percent from the year prior and is projected to continue growing. We may not be cutting back on snacking, but we can try to make the foods we do choose be healthier choices.

By Cheryl Rude

Registered Dietitian at Avera Marshall

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