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Top 10 power snacks for nurses

By Gemma Raw

Working long shifts as a nurse? Don't be tempted by chocolate or doughnuts. Choosing healthy snacks is a much better way to keep your energy level up and your stress level down.

Long shifts come with the territory for many people working in nursing jobs. To stay alert, focused and productive, it's vital to fuel your body and your brain. But it's also important not to give yourself artificial highs by overdosing on stimulants such as caffeine or processed sugar, which can actually end up making you more tired and stressed out. Here's our top ten list of healthy, energy-giving snacks for nurses...

Bananas

The banana is nature's ready-made energy bar in its own handy biodegradable wrapping. With a low water content, bananas have more calories and a higher natural sugar content than other fruits, supplying an instant yet sustained boost of energy.

Goji berries

Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, goji berries are rich in protein and fibre, so they raise your energy level slowly, reducing the risk of a sugar rush and subsequent crash.

Apples

The humble apple is not something that usually springs to mind when you want to 'carb up'. But this ever-popular packed lunch staple actually has quite a lot of built-in energy from carbohydrates. Eating the skin adds to the fibre, which helps to sustain the accompanying sugar boost.

Nuts

High in protein, nuts make a convenient energy-giving snack. They also contain a lot of unsaturated fats which can help reduce cholesterol. According to scientists, the best varieties to choose for energy are macadamias, almonds, brazils, pistachios and walnuts.

Seeds

Like nuts, most seeds are rich in proteins, healthy fats and fibre. Why not Google a recipe and knock up some seed-based energy bites? They make cheap, tasty treats for guarding against a slump in stamina midway through your shift.

Hummus

This much-loved chickpea and tahini dip is a great source of sustained energy. Beans and pulses are packed with protein, resistant starch and fibre, which means they have a low glycaemic index (GI) and release energy more slowly than many other foods.

Yoghurt

Natural yoghurt is not only good to eat; it's loaded with protein. The star performer in nutritional terms is traditional Greek yoghurt, which has excess water, lactose and minerals strained out, giving it less sugar and more carbs.

Avocado

Often classed as a 'superfood', avocados contain beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), not to mention around 20 vitamins and minerals. They also contain fibre that helps maintain steady energy levels.

Tuna

Tuna is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for you, while being low in in the kind of fats that your body can do without. It's also very high in protein, which will help keep you awake and alert.

Quinoa

Revered as a sacred superfood by the Incas, this so-called 'pseudo-cereal' technically isn't a grain but a seed. But who cares? It's gluten-free, stuffed with nutrients and delivers an energy-packed punch of protein.

See our previous blog for tips on coping with shift work.