When it’s sunny, and you have (hopefully) a few moments to enjoy nature, the trail mix is ââa must to grab and go. This hiker’s favorite is known to be shelf stable, practical, high in protein, and it comes in dozens of different sweet and savory combinations. While some mixes are delicious and healthy, others just aren’t because of the wrong ingredients. We’ve spoken to a few nutritionists, got tips on finding a good pack, and picked some of the healthiest blends on the market so you don’t have to.
Is trail mix healthy?
With the right ingredients, trail mix can deliver a multitude of benefits. Nuts and seeds contain a lot of protein, an important nutrient for muscle growth and tissue repair, according to Sarika Shah, RDN Another benefit of nuts and seeds? They contain unsaturated fats. âUnsaturated fat can lower LDL – the bad cholesterol – preventing your risk of heart disease,â says Jerlyn Jones, RDN. Two secretly healthy ingredients that provide the sweet balance in some blends are chocolate and dried fruit. Dark chocolate is associated with heart health and contains antioxidants, while dried fruits are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber. âWhen you combine carbohydrate and fiber,â Shah explains, âit provides a slow release of energy because your body breaks down this combination much more slowly.â
Trail mix can potentially aid weight loss because it fills you up faster than other snacks, but there’s always a catch. âA calorie is a calorie,â Shah says. âIt’s super easy to eat a little bit of the mix, which becomes calorically dense. Most trail mix bags have a quarter-cup serving, or about a handful. Trail mix is ââstill a great snack between meals. or on a hike, as it’s a small snack that’s easy to remember, but in moderation.
How to choose a healthy trail mix
Trail Mix is ââfantastic for endurance activities, but the ingredients can vary widely and there are many bad combos out there. Finding the right mix is ââessential to making it a healthy snack.
âï¸ Read thee Top 3: Always check the ingredient list as the nuts or seeds should be on top. âPeople should look for nutrient-dense ingredients such as unsalted nuts, seeds, dried fruits, coconut flakes, and dark chocolate,â Jones explains.
âï¸ Check the sodium: âAvoid foods high in sodium (300 mg or more per serving),â Jones advises. Unless you are doing high-impact exercise, you don’t need to replenish your sodium levels.
âï¸ Watch out for sugar: Added sugars are prohibited. âI try to look for packages where nuts or seeds are the main ingredients, and sugar is not among the top three ingredients listed,â Shah explains. However, remember that dried fruits contain natural sugars. “I don’t care too much about the grams of sugar, the most important is the added sugar. The goal is 5 grams or less per serving.”
âï¸ Avoid plaster nuts and seeds: Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all great ingredients, as long as they’re not coated in candy.
âï¸ Notice the name: A good rule of thumb, if the name sounds sweet like “S’mores” or “Salted Carmel”, it probably isn’t the healthiest.
Trail Mix is ââa great snack for runners, long distance walkers, hikers, campers, or anyone looking for a boost of energy for body and soul. By following these tips, we’ve found our 6 healthiest blends. Don’t like what you find? You can always make your own too!
List of healthy ingredients
Trail Mix Gourmet Nut Protein
Gourmet Nut Trail Mix offers the perfect combo of nuts and seeds to provide 7 grams of protein per serving and is sodium free. This classic trail mix with almonds, cashews, raisins, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and cherries is also an inexpensive option.
Healthy fatty acids
NUTrition Omega 3 Snack Nut Mix
Omega-3 fatty acids have a a host of health benefits and this mixture aims to deliver them. Planters NUT-rition Omega-3 Blend is great for heart health. Plus, cinnamon apples satisfy sweet cravings. One serving contains only 2 grams of added sugars and 0 mg of cholesterol.
Healthy Trail Coconut Mix
365 Big Island Organic Trail Mix
365 by Whole Foods Market
The three main components of Big Island trail mix are toasted almonds, toasted macadamia nuts, and coconut, giving it a distinctly tropical taste. This blend has no added sugar, no cholesterol and very little sodium! While it has the great benefits of cocoa tibs, it’s probably not going to satisfy a sweet craving. Shah recommends sprinkling cinnamon on a mixture to increase its flavor without adding sugar!
Healthy Trail Mix Nut Free
Enjoy the Mountain Mambo life
Finding a healthy trail mix that is allergen-free can be very difficult. Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix is ââspecially packaged safely for anyone with an allergy to tree nuts, wheat, sesame or dairy. It’s also just a tasty, seed-based option! One drawback: it contains 4 grams of added sugar; However, this is still inferior to many options and is a real find for allergy sufferers.
Healthy source of minerals
Trader Joe’s Bazaar Basket Snack Mix
Trader Joe’s Bazaar Basket Snack Mix is ââsweet, salty and tangy. This blend contains chickpeas, which are an additional rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Two other unique finds in this “basket” are pistachios, which contain vitamin b6 and thiamine, and sour cherries, which have many benefits including reducing hypertension.
Classic Healthy Trail Mix
Back to Nature Harvest Mix
Back to Nature’s Harvest mix has no added sugar or added salt, but is packed with flavor. Oven-roasted nuts, raisins, pumpkin seeds and dried apricots offer a nice variety with a high protein punch of 4 grams.
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