(BPT) – He may always ensure his kids have access to fresh fruits, lean protein and plenty of water, but Dad’s personal snacking habits might not be so healthy. If so, he’s not alone; chips are the snack food of choice for 63 percent of Americans, and 91 percent of us snack daily, according to a Nielsen report.
“Many dads who are diligent about providing healthy food options for their families could stand to do better for themselves,” says Dr. Michael Roussell, a nutrition consultant and nutrition adviser to Men’s Health magazine. “Good health is not a given for American fathers. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men, and the American Heart Association says nearly 10 million have been diagnosed with diabetes. The National Institutes of Health estimate three out of every four American men are overweight or obese.”
Unfortunately, many of Dad’s favorite snacks may be unhealthy, from chips and cookies to nachos and wings. Families can work together to help everyone ditch bad snacking habits and replace them with healthier choices that are still Dad-friendly, Roussell suggests.
Here are five better-for-Dad (and everyone) snack options that still offer the flavor, satisfaction and convenience fathers love:
* Pistachios — “Pistachios should be a go-to delicious snack for your father,” says Roussell. “He might already snack on pistachios while watching the big game, but you should encourage him to add them as an everyday snack in lieu of traditional snack foods like cookies and chips.” Pistachios contain healthy fat, fiber and protein that contribute to a feeling of fullness and satisfaction between meals. Snacking on pistachios can also reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to research from Penn State University.
* Jerky — Here’s a snack that might already be on Dad’s list of favorites. Beef jerky clocks in at 80-100 calories for a 1-ounce serving and also provides double-digit grams of protein. However, some types can have much higher sugar and sodium levels, so be sure to read labels.
* Alternative chips — Traditional fried potato chips aren’t a great snack choice. Fortunately, better options are now available, allowing Dad to get his chip fix with a better nutritional profile. For example, baked potato chips can have significantly lower fat content than fried. Black bean or lentil chips can provide more protein and fiber. Plus, a better-for-you chip provides the same satisfying crunch as the fat- and calorie-filled varieties do.
* Frozen Greek yogurt — Hey, it’s summer, and a man sometimes needs a frozen treat after yardwork or a workout. Rather than loading up on the fat and calories of ice cream, or the high sugar content of other frozen treats, look to frozen Greek yogurt for a more healthful cold snack. When frozen, Greek yogurt can compete with ice cream for creaminess, plus it’s rich in protein, calcium and a host of other vitamins and minerals. Many frozen yogurt makers now offer Greek yogurt versions of popular flavors.
* Dark chocolate — It’s high time to set aside the stereotype of dark chocolate as a treat for moms. Dads can love it, too. While dark chocolate can be higher in calories and fat than some other snacks, it also has nutrients that have been linked to better heart health. You wouldn’t want him to eat a bar of dark chocolate after every meal, but a 1-ounce bar every now and then could help support Dad’s heart health — and the mental benefits of eating chocolate are a bonus!