GORP is Good for You
Hikers have known for years that adding nuts to the mix can boost energy and help you recharge on trail. Some recent research suggests that adding nuts to the mix and snacking on them throughout the day (even off-trail) can lead to a longer, healthier life.
The standby energy mix of 'good old raisins and peanuts' is well-known and appreciated among the hiking community for its merits on trail. A handful of this stuff gives you energy for that final assault to the summit, or helps you recharge while admiring the view from your lunch spot.
But two recent studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that adding other nuts to the mix and snacking on them throughout the day (even off-trail) can lead to a longer, healthier life.
The science behind nuts
Nuts are classified as fruits, and most of the nuts that humans consume are the seeds of the nut fruit. Because seeds must contain all the necessary ingredients to support life, the nutrients found in nuts promote growth and help healthy tissues develop. In other words, nuts are chock-full of biologically active materials which are known contributors to a healthy lifestyle. The following are just some of the benefits that can be gained by adding nuts to your diet.
- Nuts contain dietary fiber, which can reduce cholesterol levels, and as a rule, 62 percent of the fat found in nuts is monounsaturated, meaning it supports the healthy cholesterol HDL, rather than the harmful LDL cholesterol.
- There is less saturated fat in nuts than in olive oil, long renowned for its health benefits.
- Nuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides and blood pressure.
- Many nuts, almonds especially, contain high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant, as well as other compounds known to have anti-inflammatory qualities.
These benefits aren't limited to just one or two types of nut. They can be reaped from pisatchios, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, and peanuts. Just be sure that you spring for the raw or the unsalted variety. Too much salt in your diet can raise blood pressure, zeroing out the effects of the omega-3 fatty acids.
Share your GORP tips below. Have you worked out the perfect ratio of different nuts in your GORP? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Learn more about the studies behind these findings in this New York Times article. Happy snacking!