The importance of snacks are often overlooked, but they can be a critical part of your loved one’s diet. Often times, seniors eat inadequate portions at meals and don’t get the necessary nutrients that are needed for health, wellness, energy and immunity. Snacks can supplement these diets and give your loved one a much-needed boost. Unfortunately, many seniors are fed packaged snacks that are often loaded with excess salt and sugar and don’t provide much nutritional value.

Below are healthy snack ideas for seniors.

Fresh Fruit: Fresh fruit is an excellent snack because it’s low in calories and rich in nutrients. Fruit is portable as well, so you can offer your loved one a banana, grapes, apple or kiwi on the go. There’s no preparation; no need for cutting, measuring or cooking. Plus, the natural sugars satisfy sweet cravings. Fruit can also be added to yogurt, cereal and oatmeal.

Cold Cut Veggies: Precut tasty vegetables like carrot sticks, green beans, celery, cherry tomatoes or broccoli and place them in Ziploc bags. You can also buy dressing in individual cups that will give the veggies extra flavor. Most vegetables are low in carbs and calories and packed with nutrients.

Nuts: Nuts contain healthy fats, antioxidants and protein. They can be added to trail mix for extra flavor and variety (add raisins, pretzels and dark chocolate). Purchase pre-packed bags of mixed nuts or buy them in bulk and pre-bag them for your loved one. Since nuts are packed with protein, they provide energy and satisfy hunger cravings.

Cheese: Cheese is another snack that contains protein so it will satisfy hunger and provide energy. Cheese is also portable when you buy it in slices, cubes or sticks, so keep these options stored in your loved one’s refrigerator. For a well-rounded snack, pair a slice of cheese with a piece of fresh fruit or whole wheat crackers.

Finger Sandwiches: If you’re inviting your loved one over for the afternoon, serve up finger sandwiches. Ideas include tuna on rye, peanut butter, cucumber or cheese. Add the things your parent likes such as lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, pickles, mayo or mustard. Cut them into small squares so they are easier to eat.

Popcorn: Air pop popcorn; it’s much healthier this way, cutting down on both salt and fat. Season the popcorn with spices that your loved one is in the mood for such as cinnamon, salt, parmesan or a blend of rosemary, sage, thyme and garlic. For more ideas on flavoring popcorn, visit foodnetwork.com.