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The Anatomy of Trail Mix

Posted Jun 26 2011 12:00am
     
 You don't need to be a nutritionist to know that trail mix is (a) yummy, (b) addictive, and (c) unfortunately, a caloric stomach bomb when several servings are consumed per sitting (a normal serving in only 3 wimpy tablespoons). And how can you have just one serving? If you have that much self control, I would like to meet you. I personally would need the willpower and concentration of a Buckingham Palace guard to only have one delicious handful. Each scoop somehow satisfies each and every sweet/salty tooth I have (and I own a mouthful). The good news!, gorp is beneficial for your health when you don't polish off a whole 48 oz. bag by yourself (guilty).

Trail mix, you slay me.

There are countless gorp combinations, but the basic trail mix mixture includes: almonds, raisins, M&Ms, peanuts, and cashews. Lets do a nutritional biopsy on this addictive mixture and get a closer look on what we're really eating inhaling. Let's go nuts.

Almonds
Almonds get a bad rap for being fatty, but they are actually high in monounsaturated fats (the good fats like avocados) which keeps your heart strong and healthy! They are rich in protein and low in carbohydrates. These knarly nuts are also high in vitamin E, fiber, and calcium which equates to a cancer fighting formunla! A serving of almonds (an ounce) is 170 calories and 130 fat calories, so one serving provides 105% of the DV of vitamin E and 60% DV of magnesium; and since magnesium is used to treat depression it would be safe to say that almonds can make you happy (if the nutritional benefits don't already make you smile).

Raisins
Raisins deserve more of an introduction than just "wrinkly grapes", or the comparison indicator of prune-y fingers and toes after a long, hot shower; they are actually amongst one of the most nutritional dried fruits! Raisins are low in sodium, cholesterol-free, high in fiber and fat-free! They also provide a quick energy boost (no need for 5 hour energy drinks) being 70% pure fructose. No longer do raisins need to compare themselves to their cousins, the Grapes of Wrath. I dub them the Raisins of Rage.

M&Ms
We're all anxiously waiting to hear if M&Ms are as nutritional as they are tasty. I mean, if they're co-existing with the previous nutritional superheros they must be healthy versus purely decorative, right? Well, since M&Ms are usually milk chocolate rather than dark, that negates the antioxidant factor. I will, though, give M&Ms the mental benefit. We need that chocolate kick to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings and to balance out that salty element (I mean who doesn't pick out all the colorful Ms to only leave a bag of nuts for the next person...fess up, we all do it). M&Ms are the bright highlight of every bag and that's benefit enough.

PeanutsDumbo had the right idea because these legumes (yes, you read correctly; peanuts are not actually true nuts but related to peas and beans!) pack a powerful nutritional punch. Peanuts (peapeas?) are rich in energy, antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins. They are also very high in monounsaturated fats! It is said that people who eat nuts at least twice a week are less likely to gain weight than those who don't go nuts.


CashewsLast but certainly not least: the kidney shaped nut; and since nuts play a role in a healthy diet, cashews do indirectly benefit the kidneys! Cashews have a lower fat content than other nuts, and contain a substantial amount of vitamin K which the body uses to clot blood. One ounce of cashews contain 155 calories and provide 5g of protein. Not too shabby.


There you have it. The sweet and salty truth. We have concluded that trail mix is in high in numerous nutrients that keep the body healthy and well: rich in fiber (keeps you regular, if you catch my drift), vitamins, energy, and good fats! As long as you don't over do it, I see trail mix as a friend rather than foe! Still can't resist the constant hand dipping? I use measuring cups. For a mid-morning snack, I'll measure out 3 tablespoons (usually topped off with plenty of M&Ms) of trail mix and bring it to work in a zipped-locked baggy. This way I'm not tempted to pick and indulge guilt-free! I'm sold. Trail mix is powerful and nutritional heterogeneous mixture and a healthy excuse to grab your nuts (but remember, within moderation).


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