Trail Mix: The Healthy Snack Choice
Trail mix is a convenient snack that most people like to take on the go or even snack on when they are at home. You may be curious to know whether trail mix is a healthy snack or not. While most trail mixes only contain nuts and dried fruits, others may be loaded with sugars and sodium. Are you wondering what to look for in a trail mix to consider it a healthy snack? Read on to find out!
Trail Mix Ingredients:
Which are Healthy, and Which Should You Avoid?
Trail mix can be a very healthy snack. But depending on the ingredients, it can be just as sugary as a candy bar.
Look for trail mixes that are primarily nut mixes or nut mixes with dried fruit. The most common nuts in trail mixes are almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, and Brazil nuts. Seeds, such as pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, are also nutritious additions to a trail mix.
If you are purchasing a trail mix from the store or getting packaged dried fruits to make your own trail mix, watch out for added sugars listed on the nutrition label. Oftentimes, dried cranberries, raisins, and blueberries contain high amounts of added sugars.
Not only do you need to look out for added sugars in-store bought trail mixes, but you also need to watch out for added salt and oil.
Some trail mixes include a high amount of sodium and oil to enhance the flavour of the nuts. Keep your trail mix simple, and look for plain nuts and dried fruits mixes.
Skip the trail mixes that contain yogourt and chocolate-covered pretzels, M&Ms and sweetened cereals. These trail mixes are no healthier than eating a candy bar.
Trail Mix is The Best Healthy Snack Alternative
Depending on the ingredients, trail mix can be the healthy snack alternative you have been looking for. Nuts can replace the desired crunch of a potato chip, and dried fruit can satisfy your sweet tooth.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that snacks should be nutrient-dense, therefore, it is best if they contain vegetables, fruits or nuts. They also recommend limiting snacks that contain saturated fats, sugar, and sodium.
Many common snacks are not nutrient-dense and contain unwanted ingredients. Trail mix is the best healthy alternative to an unhealthy snack.
Since trail mix is a nutrient-dense snack, it can boost your energy levels, curb your appetite and nourish your body with vitamins and minerals. Compared to unhealthy snacks that can cause a sugar crash and increase your appetite while having no real nutritional value.
Keep in mind that, just like any snack, trail mix can lead to weight gain if you do not watch the portions you eat. The standard serving size for trail mix is ¼ cup, enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Even though nuts are healthy, they are a high-calorie snack. Just a ¼ cup of nuts will benefit your body and give you the boost you need.
The nuts in trail mix are an excellent source of healthy fats, such as unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower LDL (also known as “bad cholesterol”), reduce inflammation and decrease your risk for heart disease. Nuts are also high in protein, which can aid in muscle building and muscle repair.
Trail mix is an excellent source of fibre, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, L-arginine (amino acid), B-vitamins and antioxidants; all of which benefit the body’s functions and abilities.
Overall, healthy trail mixes provide many nutritional benefits, and can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, inflammation, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
The Bottom Line
Trail mix is one of the best healthy snacks you can reach for. It is a nutrient-dense snack as it is high in protein, fat and carbohydrates. It is a convenient, on-the-go snack that can give your body the energy boost you crave. If you purchase trail mixes from the store, make sure to check the nutrition labels for added salt, sugar and oils. You could also make your own healthy trail mix at home by combining your favourite raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruits. So, eat trail mix when you are craving a snack. Your body will thank you.