Many people snack at least once during the course of a day, and what you eat matters to immune system function and overall health. This means your snack choice is important. To help navigate the world of snacking, this list of what to eat and what not to eat will keep you satiated and your immune system in optimal health. 

The Science of Snacking

According to the 2020 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council:

♦ The most common snack choices are fruit, cookies, chips, candy, popcorn, soft drinks, crackers, cake, trail mix, and yogurt.

♦ 25% of Americans report that they snack multiple times a day.

♦ 40% of Americans occasionally replace meals by snacking, and 25% sometimes skip meals entirely.

While snacks can be an important part of a healthy diet, they should not replace whole meals. Snacking alone does not provide the essential nutrients your body needs for optimal immune and whole-body health. 

As part of a comprehensive health plan, snacking does have benefits, such as supporting healthy blood sugar levels and normal energy throughout the day. Snacking also helps curb your appetite to prevent overeating at the next meal. 

Of course, your choice of snack can be the difference between supporting overall health and not reaching your health goals. 

eat fresh veggies, not chips

Smart Snacking for Better Immune Health

When you plan ahead for snacks, you can make smarter choices and avoid the temptations of unhealthy convenience foods. Here are my recommendations for avoiding snacks and the nutritious alternatives you should grab. 

Eat Veggies, Not Chips

Potato chips are among the most popular snacks in America, but they are not doing your health any favors. Yes, they are made from potatoes, but when fried, the high heat disrupts proteins. Potato chips are also high in sodium and fat. Many believe that eating veggie chips is a healthy alternative, but these too are processed and high in sodium.

Instead of potato or veggie chips, opt for fresh vegetables instead. You can still enjoy the same crunchy snack without missing out on the nutrients your body needs. Some of the best vegetables for immune health include leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. 

So, EAT a simple spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette or some broccoli florets with hummus, NOT potato chips. 

Eat Yogurt, Not Cookies

Cookies are generally made with refined white flour and sugar, which can make it challenging to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. These ingredients also provide no nutritional value. 

Instead of cookies, you can indulge your sweet tooth with yogurt. You get probiotics to support the gut microbiome, which is at the center of immune health, and vitamins and protein for overall health. Just keep an eye on the sugar content of store-bought yogurts before you buy. 

So, EAT plain Greek yogurt with fruit, granola, or chia seeds and honey, NOT cookies. 

eat nuts, not crackers

Eat Nuts, Not Crackers

Crackers are commonly eaten alone or with a dip, but even with a healthy dip like hummus, the crackers are packed with added salt, sugar, and fats. Plus, crackers contain very little fiber. 

Instead of crackers, grab a handful of nuts or seeds. You get a quick snack on the go and several essential nutrients in every handful. Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

So, EAT homemade trail mix with almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries, NOT crackers. 

Eat Fruit, Not Candy

When you’re craving something sweet, stay away from the vending machines. Candy is full of refined sugar, which is not doing your heart, digestive, or immune health any favors. Apart from the small antioxidant content of dark chocolate, candy has no nutritional value. 

Instead, bring some fruit along. An apple a day can keep the doctor away, or anything citrus will be packed with vitamin C, one of your immune system’s favorite nutrients. Fruit is also packed with fiber, antioxidant plant compounds, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. 

So, EAT your favorite fruit, or make a small fruit salad with berries, pineapple, papaya, and bananas, NOT candy.

Something Extra

Your immune system works hard and requires certain nutrients for optimal function. Even with a balanced diet, it can be beneficial to get additional support. In addition to packing healthy snacks for your day, keep 1MD Nutrition® immune health supplements on hand to make sure your immune system has everything it needs.

1MD Nutrition's BreatheMD and ImmunityMD

ImmunityMD® provides two doctor-selected probiotic strains and potent dosages of L-lysine and zinc to support healthy immune responses, maintain the integrity of lips, skin, and mouth, and promote whole body health. 

For more targeted respiratory support, BreatheMD™ combines South African geranium with botanicals, vitamins, and minerals to help support healthy lung function and promote a healthy immune system.

Final Thoughts

Your food choices matter, not just for immune health but for overall health too. Adding nutritious snacks to a balanced diet, regular exercise, and the 1MD Nutrition’s immune supplements creates a powerful immune health routine. So, eat these snacks, and not processed foods, for optimal immune and whole-body health.

Dr. Brian Greenberg

Dr. Brian Greenberg is an immunologist, allergist, and pediatrician who received his medical degree from the University of Florida, and completed his residency and fellowship at UCLA. He has practiced medicine in Southern California for almost 25 years.