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Try one of these 3 healthy alternatives to popular sugary snacks

August 21, 2015

You may have heard over and over again from your doctor that you need to limit the amount of sugar you consume. This could mean staying away from your favorite soda or avoiding the candy aisle at the grocery store. While many consider this a challenge thats simply too hard to incorporate into their daily lives, its important to remember that the older adults get, the more vulnerable their bodies become to conditions like heart disease and diabetes. As maintaining a nutritious diet is crucial to healthy aging, older adults should do their best to limit foods high in sugar, fat and other components that can put them at risk of serious disease when consumed regularly. 

"29% of people 65 and older in the U.S. have diabetes."

Why is limiting sugar a good idea? According to the National Institute on Aging, in 2014, there were more than 11 million older adults living in the U.S. with diabetes. This is more than 29 percent of people 65 and older.

The institute noted that peoples risk of developing diabetes gets much higher the older they get, so exercising and sticking to a healthy diet is particularly crucial. A diet high in sugar has also been found to cause the liver to leave more harmful fats in the bloodstream, which could play a factor in the onset of serious heart conditions. By ensuring that the foods you eat are lacking in sugar and contain essential nutrients like fiber and protein will help you manage health factors like cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight. 

Cooking healthy foods with loved ones will serve as a good bonding opportunity and help adults to take control of their diet.
Cooking healthy foods with loved ones will serve as a good bonding opportunity and help adults take control of their diets.

There has been research that showed adults who consume high levels of sugar have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. One such study by the Harvard Public School of Health found that over the course of 15 years, the participants who consumed at least 25 percent or more of their daily calories as sugar were two times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than the adults who ensured that their diets included no more than 10 percent added sugar.  

"If youre going to have something sweet, have a fruit-based dessert," Dr. Teresa Fung, adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, advised older adults. "That way, at least youre getting something good out of it."

However, small amounts of sugar arent likely to have harmful effects on the body. Finding a few alternatives to your favorite sugary foods or eating snacks that have a little bit of sugar but offer some health benefits will put you on the right track to a healthy lifestyle. Satisfy your sweet tooth with one of these tasty treats.

"Look for chocolate bars that have a high cocoa count."

1. Organic chocolate bars Who doesnt love chocolate? While its important to avoid eating an excess amount of sugary chocolate, such as bars with caramel fillings, there are organic chocolate bars that offer the sweet taste, but reduce the negative impacts associated with the dessert. Look for bars that have a high cocoa count - over 70 percent is ideal - and are made with organic sweeteners. One healthy option is Lindt chocolate bars, which are made of 70 percent cocoa and have only 12 grams of sugar. Go for dark chocolate if you like it, as this tends to have less sugar than milk chocolate.  

2. Smoothies If you tend to crave ice cream or love a good milkshake on a hot summer day, smoothies are a tasty alternative. They dont necessary have to be made of fruit alone - get creative and make a beverage thats both as sweet and refreshing as it is good for you. You can create a creamy milkshake-like smoothie by adding some protein powder, yogurt or soy milk to give it the right consistency without making it less healthy. Keep it simple with your favorite fruity ingredients or whip up a smoothie youve never tried before. For example, this chocolate banana cashew smoothie will tame your chocolate craving.

3. Trail mix Dont be fooled by the sweet and salty taste of trail mix - the snack is actually not bad for you. Many health-conscious adults eat it as the healthy alternative to candy. One of the best aspects of choosing trail mix is that you can either throw it together yourself or buy it at the store. You might like making it yourself so you have the chance to add the foods you like. Most mixes include dried fruits, nuts and even sugar-free cereal or pretzels. Store it in a container and have it on hand whenever you get the craving for a tasty snack.