5 Healthy Snacks to Stock in the Break Room

It’s no secret that diet-related diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes are on the rise in the U.S. They can often be traced back to the standard American diet, which is unfortunately full of sugar-laden, highly processed foods. The least healthy foods and treats tend to be less expensive than healthier options. That’s why so many business owners and managers choose to stock their break rooms with them. But even though these types of foods are monetarily inexpensive, they come at a high cost to your employee’s health.

Healthy people tend to be happier, more reliable, and more productive. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to provide nutritious snacks at work that fuel both the mind and the body. Doing so will help your employees feel and perform better each day. Stop rewarding your team with detrimental processed foods and treats and stock the break room with these five healthy snacks instead.

1. Breakfast Alternatives

For many people, breakfast is the most rushed meal of the day. That’s why convenience breakfast “foods” such as cereal and coffee are so popular. Unfortunately, cold cereals are notoriously low in nutrition unless they’re fortified with specific vitamins or minerals. Many commercial coffee products aren’t any better and come with a lot of added sugars. 

To help your team get off to a great start in the morning, consider offering healthy breakfast alternatives. Ideas include oatmeal packets, granola bars, and yogurt and fruit cups. You could even encourage employees to make healthy breakfast smoothies by providing a green drink mix, fruit, and a blender. Just be sure to enforce a policy requiring employees to clean any small appliances immediately after use.

2. Shelf-Stable Fruit

Shelf-stable fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples are packed full of energy-boosting nutrients like B vitamins, zinc, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They can typically sit out for days without going bad, which makes them a great option for the break room counter. These types of fruits are protected by skins that keep unwanted microbes out.

You can also offer refrigerated snack fruit options like strawberries, cherries, and grapes. However, these take up valuable refrigerator space that might otherwise be used to store lunches. It’s best to keep at least one shelf in the fridge clear so employees have a place to put the meals they bring from home.

3. Nuts

Nuts are sometimes looked down on because they’re a high-calorie food. But they are also bursting with nutrients like vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin E, niacin, and magnesium. They’re also quite satiating, which means you don’t need to eat a lot of them to feel full. Nuts have anti-inflammatory properties, which suggests that eating them may promote healthy aging and reduce inflammatory markers.

Not all nuts are created equal though, and some have more beneficial nutritional profiles than others. The top nuts for better health include pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, and Brazil nuts. Peanuts, on the other hand, are often considered the “worst nut” for health. That’s because they may contain aflatoxins, which are produced by peanut-related fungi and are harmful to health.

4. Protein Shakes and Bars

Protein is an essential macronutrient for overall physical health. It’s found throughout every cell in the human body. It helps build and repair various tissues in the body and helps transport nutrients to where the body needs them. It also helps boost immune function and may help keep employees healthy so they have fewer sick days.

When stocking your break room with protein shakes and bars, it’s essential to check ingredient lists. Look for low-sugar options that are free from major allergens. You should steer clear of protein snacks that contain high-fructose corn syrup, carrageenan, and lactose. High-fructose corn syrup is one of the worst commercial sweeteners for metabolic health. Carrageenan and lactose can cause stomach upset in those who are sensitive to these ingredients.   

5. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of healthy snacks, and for good reason. Sugar-laden milk chocolate can hardly be considered a healthy food and can actually harm the body. But dark chocolate is a different story. Dark chocolate (with 70% or higher cacao) has many different health benefits for the body and mind. It may reduce your heart disease risk and lower blood pressure.

Studies also show that consuming cocoa high in flavanols may improve blood flow to the brain. This could, in turn, lead to improved cognition. If your team members have to problem-solve regularly, eating dark chocolate may help them do so efficiently. It’s always desirable to boost employee brain function at work, so don’t be shy about offering delicious dark chocolate snacks. Eating chocolate may also boost mood, which can be great for company-wide morale.

Many employees have come to expect break room snacks from their employers. But that doesn’t mean you have to provide nutritionally bankrupt options like donuts, cookies, and bagels. These types of foods can hamper productivity and contribute to more frequent sick days. On the other hand, stocking your break room with nutritious snacks will help keep employees energized, healthy, and on task.

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