Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trail Mix: Healthy or Not?

Many companies produce and distribute trail mix and label it as healthy because it contains fruit and nuts.  However, when I see these products and look at the nutritional labels it’s a complete joke to me.  The fruits have been sweetened with sugar and dipped in oils in order to make it stick.  This is possibly the worst combination there can be.  The added sugar is going to spike blood glucose and all the un-needed fat from the oil is going to end up right in your midsection.  The nuts have also been salted and more often than not, also dipped in oil.

Many companies took healthy foods and turned them into a nightmare to anyone who cannot control their portions.  Lets face it - who stops at one serving of trail mix; just about no one.  The typical person will finish off half a bag in no time, and this is going to equate to hundreds of calories ( most of those from the added sugar and oils which weren’t needed in the first place).  Lets go back to portion control.  The added sugars are going to make you hungrier and make you crave the mix even more.  The saltiness of the nuts will also have this affect on many people.  The combination of these two things are a disaster.

To sum up- Added sugar + salt = more hunger.  Added sugar + un-needed oils = increased, unnecessary calories. Add those two together and you no longer have a healthy product.

Because of this common trend among companies I have created my own trail mix which contains all natural products and will keep you full and satisfied.  If you have been reading my posts since the beginning you know I mentioned that fats do not keep you full;  this is true regarding the loads of bad fats that you see in fast food and other products ( especially when these fats are combined with simple carbs, i.e. a hamburger bun).  However, healthy naturally occurring fats such as in egg yolks, lean cuts of meat, and nuts will leave you feeling full for a long time.

I went to the store and picked up pistachios, edamame, sunflower kernels, and walnuts;  all of these either had no salt or were lightly salted and contained no un-needed oils.

 I also bought raisins, dried apricots, and prunes, none of which had added sugar or oils.

I added one serving of each fruit product into a bag and 1 oz of each nut....

You don't have to use these exact ingredients.  Feel free to mix and match as you wish - just try to stay away from those bad additives which I listed.

After you've made your bag, calculate your calories and divide that number by 200 to get X amount of servings, each being 200 calories.  This is for portion control.  Here's what a mixed bag looks like....

This combination of products gives you salty, sweet, crunchy, and soft;  healthy fats which will keep you full, fruits for some carbs which will give you energy, and a large variety of micro nutrients which will keep your moral high and body healthy.

As an nutrition and food science major, I would greatly appreciate anyone who is willing to tell their friends about my blog entries or even feature one of them on your blog.  My wish is to help young adults to stay healthy and avoid all the mistakes I made as teen when it came to unhealthy eating, so getting my name out there would greatly help.


  1. This is a great tip, and a great snack you have made up of a healthier version.

    Another supposedly healthy snack that I found the fat content appalling is granola. Be careful choosing granola...or make your own!

  2. It's definitely best to mix up your own! Although I admit that the main reason I've been doing it is because I don't like half the ingredients in "official" trail mix! :p

    When I was in New Zealand last January I discovered a wonderful way of making trail mix! In most supermarkets there they have this large section with bins of all kinds of nuts and dried fruits (and yes some candies like gummy bears). You serve up however much you want of each kind into separate bags, weigh them and pay. Then go home and mix up the ingredients to you heart's delight! I can't get some of the more exotic dried fruits I found there here in Spain (papaya, mango... *sigh*), but I am in the country of nuts so I mix up almonds and walnuts and raisins galore! ;o)

    Great post Tony!

    I agree that these products for the most part are riding the healthy conscious person who is buying and eating unconsciously. Because they "feel" that they are healthy, they eat and eat but the truth is in the nutritional information and many folks don't even really understand that as well.
    Tony, I want to post this at my blog and share it with others. Thanks!

  4. That'd be great kevin thanks for the support!


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