Healthy fats can help keep your body energized during your backpacking trip. Fill your pack with these five healthy meals to enrich your next outdoor adventure.
Assorted nuts: Among the healthiest foods you can eat, nuts are packed with essential minerals and beneficial fats. High in calories, nuts are seed kernels that are loaded with antioxidants. They are also rich in unsaturated fat, which is associated with protection against a variety of health issues including heart disease. In fact, a variety of studies have found that eating nuts can ward off a host of diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Because they take longer to digest, nuts have also been found to reduce cravings and regulate body weight.
Although most nuts contain incomplete protein compounds, you can fill out your amino acid requirements by combining them with a diet rich in seeds, legumes and grains. You can also get complete protein by eating Brazil nuts which contain all nine essential amino acids.
Seeds: Like nuts, seeds contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, along with healthy monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds both have high concentrations of monounsaturated fats. Flax seeds and sunflower seeds contain polyunsaturated fats. Because they are very high in calories, seeds allow you to bring along a lot of fuel without overloading your pack. That said, you want to make sure you don't choose seeds that contain a lot of added sodium.
Freeze-dried foods: While healthy fats provide ample fuel for outdoor adventure, they tend to spoil rather quickly in hot weather. Unfortunately, it's not practical for backpackers to carry around heavy coolers filled with ice and food. That's why so many outdoor enthusiasts carry healthy freeze-dried foods which stay edible even in very hot weather. In addition to providing a delicious meal in minutes, freeze-dried meals are lightweight and easy to carry even over the most unforgiving terrain.
Fresh fish: If you really want to infuse some healthy fats into your backpacking trip, nothing beats fresh fish. Oily fish such as salmon and trout are full of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to lower triglycerides, which are a kind of fat in the bloodstream that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. There's also some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can lower the risk of a variety of diseases by reducing inflammation in the body. They also appear to improve sleep, reduce depression and slow down natural aging.
If you plan to backpack near some freshwater streams, consider bringing along some tackle so you can do a little fishing. If you won't be hiking near a good fishing area, you can always bring along canned sardines or kipper snacks, although you should note that these typically contain high amounts of sodium.
Peanut butter: One of the easiest ways to ensure that you are getting enough fuel and healthy fats is to bring along a jar of peanut butter. Just bear in mind that many brands add unhealthy hydrogenated oils to enhance the texture of the peanut butter and prevent the oils from separating. Before making a purchase, check the label to make sure the product only contains peanuts without any additives.
Backpacker's Pantry provides ready-to-eat, lightweight camping food to help fuel your outdoor adventures and support your health. Browse our nutritious, gourmet food for the trail.