6 great trail mix ingredients for runners

Runners know the value of having healthy snacks on hand. Trail mix can be a healthy addition to a runner's diet, both to help with recovery and to fuel future runs. Recipes featuring a mix of sweet and salty ingredients also help to satisfy post-run cravings. Here are some healthy ingredients you should consider including in your running diet - to eat as snacks by themselves or as part of homemade trail mix.

Pumpkin seeds

Like other seeds, pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, come loaded with good-for-you minerals. For just two tablespoons (28g) and 160 calories, you’ll get 15 percent of your copper, zinc and iron needs, and 40 percent of your magnesium needs.  Magnesium works with the carbs stored in your muscles, so when intake is poor, it can cause muscle weakness.

Sunflower seeds

Out of the shell, two tablespoons supplies 25 percent of copper and 30 percent of selenium needs - both play an integral role in protecting the muscles. The seeds are also extremely high in vitamin E, clocking in at 80 percent. Sunflower seeds make for a healthy snack food by themselves or as part of a mix.

Tart cherries

These are a great addition to a runner’s trail mix. Thanks to a hefty dose of antioxidants, the dried fruit has been shown to reduce inflammation caused by muscle damage due from tough runs. One study found that marathoners who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for a few days before and after a marathon had less inflammation and better recovery compared to those who drank a placebo. 

Dried Turkish apricots

These provide 30 grams of carbohydrates, per 42g serving - the perfect amount for fueling during a workout. Apricots are a good source of carotene, as indicated by their orange color. What’s more? You’ll also get a hit of iron and potassium.

Dark chocolate almonds

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a food so good for you that also tastes so delicious. Dark chocolate has anthocyanidins, a type of flavonoid that may improve heart health. Combined with vitamin E-packed, heart-healthy almonds, you can’t go wrong with this treat. (Just don’t eat the whole bag!)

Carob chips

This chocolate alternative is caffeine-free and is high in good-for-you polyphenols. Studies have found that carobs (as powder or chips) can help lower blood cholesterol. Like chocolate chips in trail mix though, carob chips are high in sugar, so use sparingly, and fill up on nuts.