To do so, they used data from over 1,000 people who’d participated in the ZOE PREDICT 1 study, which focused on how and why people respond differently to the same foods.
And based on their analysis, quality and timing are the two big factors to consider when reaching for a snack. Namely, snacking on higher quality foods (options that are nutrient-dense, as opposed to “empty calories”), was linked with better blood fat and insulin responses.
Further, in terms of timing, snacking during the day is also better for blood sugar levels. Late-night snacking, on the other hand, was associated with less desirable blood sugar and fat levels.
And these findings on snacking were independent from other dietary factors like full meals, which the study authors point out means healthy snacking is one simple, modifiable change people can make to improve their health.
“Our study showed that the quality of snacking is more important than the quantity or frequency of snacking, thus choosing high quality snacks over highly processed snacks is likely beneficial,” explains study co-author Kate Bermingham, Ph.D. in a news release, adding, “Timing is also important, with late night snacking being unfavorable for health.”