Healthy Trail Mix, A Great Snack Alternative
Healthy trail mix is a great snack food alternative, and is something that is not only for long hikes! The term trail mix is a loosely defined combination of dried fruits, nuts and sometimes other ingredients. More recently it has become common to include less healthy items like candy and chocolate along with the more traditional ingredients.
What makes a trail mix healthy? Well, the most common foods included are usually quite nutritious by nature, but sometimes other, less healthy ingredients like sugar, artificial colors or flavors and preservatives are added. The best kind of trail mix is organic and all natural, with no added sugar. Fruits are sweet enough as they are, but in today's over-sugared world, some manufacturers feel the need to make sweet things even sweeter. The same is true for "juice drinks" that add sugar to already sweet fruits like apple and orange.
Getting into the habit of eating healthy snacks can make a surprising difference to your health and weight loss goals. Of course, it's good to eat healthy snacks even if you do not need to lose weight. Many people snack on potato chips, pretzels, donuts and candy bars between meals. These are foods with little nutritional value and large amounts of sugar, salt and empty calories. Fruit, on the other hand, has natural sugar, while nuts are high in protein and healthy fats. So organic dried fruit and nuts are the staples of a healthy trail mix.
All foods should be consumed in moderation. Even something healthy like trail mix can be fattening if you eat huge quantities of it, but you are less likely to overeat nuts and fruits than less healthy snacks. If you are looking for a healthy snack to eat every day, you should also resist mixes that have chocolate. People rationalize this by pointing out that chocolate is now considered healthy and high in antioxidants, but it's still high in sugar and calories. It's better to eat something like chocolate as an occasional treat, while sticking to more nutritious foods for your everyday snacking.
Some high quality trail mixes now include "superfruits" like blueberries, goji berries and other fruits that are exceptionally high in antioxidants. These tend to be more expensive than traditional mixes that are mainly composed of raisins, apricots and other less costly fruits. These "extra healthy" trail mixes may also have sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and possibly flax seeds.
Peanuts, another common ingredient in more "ordinary" mixes are often considered one of the less healthy nuts. Peanuts are somewhat controversial among health food experts. They are high in calories, are likely to be heavily sprayed (if non-organic) and contain a less than ideal omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio. Some peanuts are fine, especially if they are organic, but it's ideal to find a good mix of nuts that include almonds, walnuts, cashews or pecans, which are among the healthiest.
Healthy trail mix is something you can take to work or school or in transit. It's handy to have a nutritious snack around that you can munch on so that's it less tempting to eat junk food between meals.