Eating healthy and eating on the go may sound like a juxtaposition, but achieving both is definitely within the realm of possibility. When packing snacks for a day hike or backcountry trip, you're likely looking for a lightweight snack that packs a nutritional punch. Superfoods do just that.
Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that have a wide scope of health benefits and are often plant based. While the list of potential superfoods is endless, we've rounded up a few that can easily be packed for a day on the trail or a week in the woods.
Walnuts are loaded with protein, vitamins, fiber, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, making them the perfect trail snack. This superfood also contains polyphenols, which work to combat oxidative stress and inflammation. Walnuts, like all nuts, contain phytic acid, which can prevent your body from properly absorbing the nutrients they offer. To get the most out of your snack, try soaking the nuts in water overnight to break down the phytic acid. Eat them plain or enjoy them in homemade energy bars for a nutritious snack.
Chia seeds are small but mighty--two tablespoons contain 137 calories, 9 grams of healthy fats, and 4 grams of protein. In addition, chia seeds are a good source of omega-3's, phosphorous, manganese, and dietary fiber. Eat them plain, add them to your water or mix them in with trail mix for some healthy fat and protein.
Chocolate is probably everyone's favorite superfood. Dark chocolate containing 70-85% cocoa offers a healthy dose of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, and zinc. It's also an excellent source of antioxidants and can help improve blood flow while simultaneously lowering blood pressure. Eat it plain or combine with walnuts, chia seeds, and whatever else you fancy for the ultimate superfood trail mix.
Blueberries often receive recognition for being a good source of antioxidants and for good reason. Antioxidants work to protect the body from free radicals, which can be damaging to cells and ultimately contribute to aging and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Antioxidants also help improve memory and cognition and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
In addition to being a good source of antioxidants, blueberries are low in calories but are packed with fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese. Next time you hit the trails, toss a handful of fresh blueberries in your pack or pick up a bag of dried blueberries if you're planning on spending a few days in the backcountry.
Seaweed may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a trail snack but this superfood is good for more than just the fish. There are four different types of seaweed: green algae (sea lettuce and sea grapes), brown algae (kelp and wakame), red algae (dulse and nori), and blue-green algae (spirulina and chlorella).
Seaweed is more nutrient dense than most land vegetables and is a good source of folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, preformed omega-3's and iodine. Due to its unique composition, seaweed is also a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and can even aid the body in digestion. To get the greatest nutritional benefit it's best to eat seaweed fresh or boiled, but if you're packing it on the trail dried seaweed is probably your best bet. If you're feeling adventurous you could try adding a scoop of spirulina to your water to reap the benefits this superfood has to offer.
If these suggestions aren’t up your alley, there are plenty of other nutritious superfoods to choose from. Some crowd pleasers include pumpkin seeds, hardboiled eggs, kale chips, almonds, yogurt and salmon jerky. Try mixing it up to enjoy the benefits all these different superfoods have to offer.
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