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Learn what makes this homemade trail mix recipe so healthy

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A bowl of healthy home-made trail mix.


Get the facts about trail mix and its impact on your nutrition so you can make healthy choices about your snacks and live your best life!


By Laura Nahins, Registered Dietitian, Nuvance Health


Although convenient and highly accessible, not all trail mix combinations are created equal. Many pre-packaged trail mixes from the grocery store often contain added sugars, salt and extra simple carbohydrates that may cause more harm than good, especially if you are trying to watch your weight.

Here’s the skinny on trail mix and a healthy trail mix recipe you can make at home!


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Understanding branding and nutritional labels on trail mix


Keep in mind that even if a trail mix is branded as “healthy” the main ingredients of a healthy trail mix can often be high in calories, such as nuts. While nuts have many nutritional benefits, they are high in calories. If your goal is to lose weight or reduce the number of calories in your diet, watch out! Make sure to measure your serving size, since eating some trail mixes can easily add extra calories to your day.


Here’s what to look for on nutrition labels:


  • Added sugars: Look out for ingredients such as added sugar (not natural sugar), high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. 
  • Unhealthy fats: Some store-bought trail mixes may contain hydrogenated oils, trans fats or high amounts of saturated fats, which can increase the risk of heart disease. 
  • High sodium levels: Excess sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues. Choose unsalted or lightly salted varieties of trail mix if possible. Try to stick to around 140 mg of sodium per serving for a low sodium snack but make sure to watch the serving size!


Luckily, making a healthy trail mix at home is easy and takes only a few minutes to prepare. Keep reading to find a trail mix recipe packed with fiber and healthy fats. It is made of nuts, seeds, low sugar fruit and sugar-free or dark chocolate.


When made at home, trail mix can make for a perfect healthy snack at any time of day!


What makes a healthy homemade trail mix?


A healthy trail mix includes a mixture of nuts, seeds, low-sugar fruits and sugar-free or dark chocolate to make snacking any time of day delectable and healthy. Here are the main nutrients that make trail mix healthy:


Also known as dietary fiber or roughage, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, which are broken down and absorbed by your body to provide energy, fiber passes through your digestive system largely intact. Fiber is found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.

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How fiber can help manage your weight and feel full


Fiber has several important health benefits, including:

  • Supporting digestive health: Fiber helps maintain regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.
  • Lowering cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, also known as “bad” cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Regulating blood sugar levels: Soluble fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar, which can improve blood sugar control, especially in people with diabetes.
  • Aiding in weight management: High-fiber foods are often low in calories and can help you feel full and satisfied, which may aid in weight loss or weight maintenance.
  • Healthy fats, omega 3 and omega 6, are two healthy fatty acids good for heart and brain health. Healthy fats are fats that are beneficial for health, especially for heart and brain health. They are important for various bodily functions and are found in foods like nuts, seeds, avocados and fish.


Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are two types of polyunsaturated fats that are considered essential because the body cannot produce them on its own and must obtain them from the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and are crucial for brain function and heart health. They are found in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.


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A balanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is important for overall health. Your doctor may recommend you eat more omega-3 fatty acids and reduce the intake of omega-6 fatty acids to maintain a healthy balance between the two. This can help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve brain function, and support your overall health. Speak with your doctor or registered dietitian about ways to include more healthy fats in your diet.


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The bottom line: When made with health in mind, homemade trail mix can be a nutritious and satisfying snack option. By choosing high-quality ingredients and avoiding added sugars and unhealthy fats, you can create a snack that meets your nutritional needs and supports your overall health. So the next time you're craving a snack, consider making your trail mix at home for a healthier alternative to store-bought options.


Healthy trail mix recipe



½ cup dried cherries

½ cup dried bananas

½ cup dark chocolate chips


Choose one of the following to be lightly salted, and the rest unsalted:

½ cup walnuts

½ cup almonds

½ cup pecans

½ cup sunflower seeds or pepitas pumpkin seeds



Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.



Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.8g | Protein: 3.4g | Fat: 12.4g | Saturated Fat: 1.9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.6g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 30.8mg | Potassium: 200.2mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 7.9g | Vitamin A: 8.8IU | Vitamin C: 2.7mg | Calcium: 28.8mg | Iron: 1.1mg