Healthy Trail Mix RecipeOctober 3, 2011 Written by JP [Font too small?]
These days, many people are looking for practical ways to eat healthier while saving money at the same time. Preparing snacks at home works towards both objectives. Whether you’re traveling or at work, trail mix is an easy to prepare and nutritious treat to keep on hand. My homemade trail mix recipe calls for only five ingredients – Brazil nuts (1 oz), walnuts (1 oz), dried cranberries (1 Tbs), dark chocolate chips (15 grams or 16 chips) and coconut flakes (1 Tbs). Not only does this make for a delicious and satisfying mix of savory and sweet elements, but it may also improve your well being in the following ways: a) Brazil nuts can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides and support healthier circulation; b) walnuts have recently been shown to improve a particular form of cognitive functioning known as “inferential verbal reasoning”; c) cranberries blunt blood sugar and insulin response when eaten with other carbohydrates, including sugar; d) dark chocolate is capable of lowering systemic inflammation which has been linked to a wide array of conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease to chronic fatigue syndrome; e) according to a recent scientific review, coconut possesses “antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antidermatophytic, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective and immunostimulant” properties.
Of the five ingredients, coconut is probably the most controversial due to its saturated fat content. Over the past several years, peer-reviewed studies have refuted the notion that unrefined coconut oil elevates cholesterol or otherwise causes harm to the cardiovascular system. However, there is a caveat to my prior statement: eating a diet rich in saturated fat and carbohydrates can, in fact, bring about unwelcome elevations in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Fortunately, my recipe is relatively low in non-fiber carbohydrates and even lower with respect to its glycemic load.
Nutritional Content: Calories: 235. Protein: 4 grams. Fat: 19 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 12 grams. Fiber: 3 grams. Two servings per batch.
Note: Brazil nuts contain a large quantity of selenium, an essential trace mineral. In small amounts, selenium confers potent antioxidant protection and supports various glands and systems in the body. On the other hand, consuming it in excess can result in a potentially dangerous condition known as selenosis. This is why I recommend eating Brazil nuts sparingly. Mixing them with other healthy nuts and seeds such as almonds, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds is probably the safest bet. But, please don’t let some of the more hyperbolic reports about Brazil nuts scare you away from them altogether. When eaten in moderation, there is no evidence of harm and significant data to support numerous health benefits.
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Brazil Nuts Intake Improves Lipid Profile, Oxidative Stress and … (link)
Study 3 – Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In Health Promotion and … (link)
Study 4 – Coconut Oil is Associated with a Beneficial Lipid Profile in Pre- … (link)
Study 5 – Dietary Carbohydrate Modifies the Inverse Association Between … (link)
Study 7 – Cocoa Consumption Reduces NF-κB Activation in Peripheral Blood … (link)
Study 8 – No Evidence of Selenosis from a Selenium-Rich Diet in the Brazilian … (link)
Study 9 – Associations between glutathione peroxidase-1 Pro198Leu … (link)
Study 10 – Effect of Brazil nut supplementation on the blood levels of selenium … (link)
Cranberries Contain Antioxidant Phytochemicals Which May Promote Wellness
Source: J Nutr. 2007 Jan;137(1 Suppl):186S-193S. (link)
Tags: Cholesterol, Inflammation, Nuts
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes