October always reminds me of eating trail-mix as a child. It can be one of nature’s healthiest snacks. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of trail mix’s that you can buy at your local grocery store will contain all sorts of crap including, soy, sugars, artificial sweeteners, nitrates, nitrites, etc. One of the best things you can do for you and your children is snack on a healthier version of trail mix throughout the day instead of grabbing a sugary snack. It is also a great snack to send in your children’s lunch as well. Below I will talk about a few of the best nuts and seeds you can add to your version of trail mix.
Macadamia nuts are the holy grail of nuts. Make sure you are buying these and putting them in your trail-mixes or just eating them by themselves. Macadamia nuts contain a very high fat content, which is a very good thing for you. Over half of the fat content in these nuts is made up of the healthy fat “oleic acid.” You have probably heard of this fat before as it is the healthy component of olives and olive oil. Know for its cardiovascular benefits, the healthy fat called oleic acid is one you should be getting in your body on a regular basis.
The main reason I love walnuts so much is due to the fact it contains an amino acid called L-Arginine. L-Arginine helps the body produce nitric oxide which is a very potent vasodilator. Vasodilation means the blood vessels in your heart and the rest of your body open up and aren’t as constricted. As most of us know, if our blood vessels are too constricted, we are more prone to heart diseases, strokes and fatal heart attacks. Walnuts are also great women as they have been shown to prevent breast cancer and tumor growth. With most healthy nuts, they contain healthy and anti-inflammatory fats as well.
Almonds usually get mos of the “good” press as far as nuts go and for good reason. Almonds are a very healthy snack as well. They contain great fats too, but better yet, they also are very high in anti-oxidants. Remember, antioxidants help your body function properly and also slow down the aging process on the inside and outside (skin) of you! Almonds are also high in protein so they can be a protein replacement for you in you are trying to decrease your meat consumption.
With Halloween just a couple weeks away, we have already started carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds in my house. They shouldn’t just be a Holiday snack. We should eat these power-packed seeds all day long. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium. This essential nutrient is one that naturally helps relax muscles, joints and tendons. If you are feeling chronically tight and sore, your may be deficient in magnesium. Pumpkin seeds to the rescue!
Pecans are another great nut to snack on. Pecans have been shown to lower your “bad” cholesterol while decreasing your chances for cardiovascular disease. Make sure to add these to your trail-mix bag as well.
Stay Away from peanuts (and peanut-butter)
Peanuts are a high-inflammatory omega 6 nut. Remember, we want to add in more omega-3 fats and less omega-6 fats. They also tend to contain cancer causing mold spores. Just say no to peanuts and peanut butter and stick with the other nuts above and butters made from those nuts.
How good is Trail-Mix without a little chocolate?
Of course, just eating the nuts & seeds mentioned above will be extremely healthy for you, but sometimes you need to add a little chocolate to liven up your trail-mix. Make sure you get pure cocoa without any added sugar, soy, etc. You can usually find a good bag in your local Whole Foods or health food store. I personally like the brand “Enjoy Life.” Their chocolate chips do not contain any dairy or soy products and are low in any added sugars.
So what are you waiting for? Start these healthy nuts and seeds on a more regular basis and you will see and feel the health benefits. It’s just another way to snack on something that is beneficial to your body and will keep another unhealthy snack out of your system.
Would you like to see what I personally eat and snack on – Then check out my 8 Week Paleo Lifestyle BootCamp. Over a 2 month period, I will lay out exactly what to eat and not to eat in order to become as healthy as you possibly can while still enjoying life.
Yours in Great Health and Longevity,
Dr. Nick Caras