10 Power-packed snacks to boost your health

Hungry and looking for some instant items to fill up your tummy? Get over the fast-to-cook processed foods that only damage your body. Sruthi Rajan suggests replacing those unhealthy bites with the following list of nutritious nibbles for optimal health.

Despite having naturally-grown healthy groceries in our staple diet, we tend to skew towards the so-called ‘healthy’ packaged foods. The moment we feel hungry, we look for edibles that are stored, ready to eat anytime or can be cooked in a jiffy. Mumbai-based nutritionist and dietician Kanchan Patwardhan, of Kanchan’s Health & Nutrition House disagrees with this practice. She says, “Ready-to-eat cereals or other eatables undergo many processes such as rolling (to make flakes), steaming (to make it soft) and drying (to make it crispy) before they hit the stores. Besides, sugar, artificial flavours and hidden salts are added in between to enhance their taste.” So, instead of gorging on such instant foods that are unhealthy, go for healthier Indian options that are rich in nutrients and light on your stomach. To make the job easy for you, we’ve got a list of 10 power snacks that are not only great for your health but also take minimum time to prepare.

Rajgira (Amaranth puffs)

This wonder grain has royal properties and stands true to its name. Due to its high quality protein, it suppresses hunger pangs and helps in weight loss. Rajgira has all the nutrients required for the body. It has twice the calcium of milk. As the puffs are gluten-free, people suffering from gluten intolerance can also consume it.

Health benefits:
Full of antioxidants, rajgira is rich in vitamin C, E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. In comparison to cereals, it has a higher amount of protein, especially lysine amino acid that our body doesn’t produce. Lysine is necessary for fat metabolism and calcium absorption and is a key nutrient for thick hair. It is also beneficial for diabetics as it regulates the insulin level.

You can have it as:
- Breakfast cereal with milk.
- Namkeen chiwra or pops.
- Roti/paratha.
- Chikki or ladoo (for non-diabetics)

Ragi or Nachni (Finger millet)

A powerhouse of nutrients, ragi is a must-have in your diet. It acts like a medicine for multiple diseases like weak or brittle bones, osteoporosis, anaemia and diabetes.

Health benefits:
Ragi is a natural relaxant and acts as an anti-stress agent. The amino acid present in ragi helps to curb your appetite. Its fibre retains more water than other grains thereby keeping your stomach full for a longer duration. It also increases breast-milk production. The methionine and lysine present in ragi helps in the creation and maintenance of collagen, thus making your skin less prone to wrinkles.

You can have it as:
- Malted ragi flour porridge
- Soup
- Ragi idli/dosa

Daliya or Lapsi (Broken wheat)

Daliya is a wonder snack for all those who want to lose weight in a healthy manner. The high soluble and insoluble fibre in daliya makes it a low-calorie snack and also keeps you full for a longer duration.

Health benefits:
Due to its low glycemic index, daliya is beneficial for diabetics. Its regular consumption keeps your gut healthy. It’s a good source of vitamins and minerals as well.

You can have it as:
- Porridge
- Upma
- Sweet dish (halwa)

Chana (Gram)

Chana is a perfect health food option and comes with unique properties. It is low in calories and fat but high in proteins, iron and other minerals. Consuming chana regularly makes people healthier and slimmer as it contains manganese that helps in metabolism of carbohydrate and lipids.

Health benefits:
An excellent source of folate and phosphorus, chana is low in fat and contains a good amount of dietary fibre. It prevents constipation and reduces harmful cholesterol. The high fibre in it makes it diabetes-friendly too.

You can have it as:
- Roasted chana.
- Boiled chana chaat.
- Chutney.
- Salad.

Shakarkand (Sweet potato)

Sweet potato is a rich source of beta carotene and other carotenoids. It is sweet in taste because of the natural sugar present in it.

Health benefits:
Sweet potato contains antioxidants that protect against cancer, prevent the effects of ageing, help to maintain your eye sight and improve your immunity level. It is a good source of potassium that helps in regulating heartbeat and nerve signals. As it is slowly released into the body, it doesn’t spike the blood sugar levels.

You can have it as:
- Boiled, baked or grilled
- Soup
- Salad

Poha (Flattened rice flakes)

Poha is a staple breakfast all over India. An easily digestible product, poha is an easy-to-cook, wholesome snack with excellent nutritional value. Being rice based, it is light and a good source of instant energy. Rice flakes are a good source of vital minerals and vitamins including iron. The right time to consume poha is in the morning, as it provides energy for the entire day.

Health benefits:
Packed with iron and complex carbohydrates, poha makes for a healthy snack. It prevents anaemia in pregnant ladies and children and is gluten free. Poha provides vitamin B1 and aids in stabilising blood sugar. As it is lactose and fat-free, it is healthy for the heart.

You can have it as:
- A breakfast snack (with vegetables, sprouts, peanuts and peas)
- Milk poha or breakfast cereal by softening it with milk (this is especially good for children) and adding jaggery in place of sugar for better health benefit.

Sattu (Protein milkshake)

This Indian protein milkshake is made up of roasted chana and wheat flour. You get approximate
15-16 g of easily digestible protein in one glass of milk.

Health benefits:
Sattu is a natural colon cleanser. It helps to flush out the oil consumed in diet. It provides strength and stamina to the body.

You can have it as:
- A mid-day meal (sattu is an easy-to-make and time-saving preparation)
- Milkshake (sattu mixed with milk and jaggery)
- Buttermilk


Curd falls under the category of world’s healthiest foods because of its amazing health benefits. It's easy to prepare and the best snack to satiate your hanger pangs. Our body requires a healthy amount of ‘good bacteria’ in the digestive system. Curd acts as a probiotic and increases the good bacteria in our gut which in turn keeps the colon healthy. The good bacteria make the milk more digestible and enhance the mineral absorption in the body.

Health benefits:
As a rich source of calcium, curd strengthens your bones and teeth. It helps in losing weight and controlling blood pressure and sugar levels.

You can have it as:
- Chaas (buttermilk)
- Smoothie (with fruits)
- Snack (by flavouring it with mint and cumin seeds and black pepper powder)


Our list of power-packed snacks cannot be complete without fruits. A delicious, nutritious and convenient snack, fruits are nature’s wonderful gift to mankind.
They come with countless health benefits and are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Health benefits:
Fruits and their unique nutrients keep the human body free of diseases. They protect us from oxidative damages caused due to stress and other illnesses. Fruits are the best medicine to flush out the free radicals from the body. They fight age-related problems, infections and some cancers.

You can have it as:
- Tossed salad (with multiple fruits)
- Juices
- Smoothies
- Fruit shakes

Nuts (Dry fruits)

Nuts or dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts and pine nuts serve as good nibbles. The countless health benefits in them make them a must-have in the daily diet. Nuts are a rich source of energy and nutrients. They are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids which help to lower the bad cholesterol.

Health benefits:
Nuts are a rich source of omega-3 that helps to control blood pressure and heart diseases. They contain important minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, fluoride and selenium required by our body. They also have good levels of vitamin-E and B-complex that are essential for optimum health and overall well-being.

You can have it as:
- Snack
- In salads
- With morning cereals
- With porridges

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