Is Trail Mix Healthy? A Health Expert Explains.
This on-the-go snack can be made with an endless variety of ingredients. It's a popular choice for lunch boxes—but is trail mix as healthy as you think?
It can be rare to find a snack that has something for everyone. Beloved by kids, adults on the go and hikers of all ages, trail mix fits the needs of many with its flexible ingredient list and portability. Is trail mix good for you? Well—it depends.
Is Trail Mix Healthy?
Yes…and maybe no.
Trail mix is typically built around a variety of nuts. The American Heart Association recommends eating about four servings of unsalted nuts per week. Nuts contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which are all checks in the healthy column. If you’re looking to eat heart-healthy fats, that’s great news! If you’re watching your calorie consumption, you’ll want to be especially mindful of your portion size, as nuts are known to be nutrient-dense.
Another contributor to the “mixed bag” of trail mix nutrition is dried fruit, like the raisins or banana chips frequently found in trail mix. Fruit is nutritious, but dried fruit can be high in added sugar.
The key is to balance your nutritional needs with a satisfying flavor combination. Healthy trail mix ingredients are often in the eye of the trail mix beholder, meaning that whether or not the ingredients of your trail mix selection are healthy may depend on what you’re looking to achieve with your healthy snack.
What Are Healthy Trail Mix Ingredients?
Take your personal or family nutritional needs into account when shopping for healthy trail mix or individual ingredients at the grocery store. When you’re shopping for trail mix ingredients, remember to include protein, fiber and healthy fats for a snack that will provide sustained energy.
One of the best things about trail mix is the variety of ingredient options that exist, making it easy to customize your own rail mix at home or search out the perfect pre-mixed selection at the store.
Here are a few health-minded tips make your trail mix shopping a breeze:
- Look for unsalted nuts to keep the sodium down.
- For the carb-conscious, be aware of added sugar in some types of dried fruit and/or additions like candy-coated chocolate.
- Add dried edamame or chickpeas for nutritious, savory flavor.
- For those with a nut allergy, seeds and pepitas can serve as substitutes for a nut base in your trail mix.
- If you’re watching your macros or overall calorie intake, keep an eye on the variety of ingredients you choose, how much you eat at once and how frequently you add trail mix into your meal plan.
Is It OK to Eat Trail Mix Every Day?
Moderation and variety are standard for building a healthy and sustainable way of eating, but if you just can’t stay away, from the delicious mix you’ve selected, be sure to make it part of a balanced day of meals and snacks. Pre-measured portions (measured out at home in the kitchen into grab-and-go containers) are a clean and controlled alternative to grabbing a handful (or two) when the snacking mood strikes.