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Go Nuts – A Great Snack for Truckers

Go Nuts – A Great Snack for Truckers

When it comes to food, many have an all-or-nothing switch. You can’t just eat one piece of cake as a sweet treat, but even when things are labeled healthy, you find yourself thinking more is better. 

 

Nuts are incredibly healthy, where these nutrient-packed morsels are one of the best foods you can eat, but no one said anything about a handful’s a day, every day. Go nuts! Yes, go nuts; they are a great treat and portion-perfect travel food for your next trip, or for that truck driver who is trying to avoid the unhealthy options in truck stops and doesn’t want to entire the front doors on an empty stomach. 

 

Many think that nuts are a fattening food. But the truth is nuts, and seeds are some of the best foods you can eat for optimum health, metabolic syndrome, and weight-loss. 

 

The Research Is In!

 

In 2017 a research study was done through the Global Burden of Disease Study. The most comprehensive analysis of the causes of death ever undertaken involved nearly 500 researchers and examined 100,000 data sources. And this study calculated that not eating enough nuts was a leading dietary risk factor for death and disability worldwide. They found that lack of nutrition taken in through nuts kills more people than processed meat consumption and more than a low intake of fiber and vegetables. The Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that eating more vegetables could save 1.8 million lives, but eating more nuts and seeds could save 2.5 million lives. Just let that sink in for a second. WOW! Right? I had to read that twice myself. 

 

But it doesn’t stop there; their research also noted that the healthy foods missing from most diets worldwide actually are nuts and seeds! 

 

Why Are Nuts Healthy? 

 

Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that eating nuts may:

  • Lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which play a significant role in the buildup of deposits called plaques in your arteries
  • Improve the health of the lining of your arteries
  • Lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease
  • Reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack and death

Nuts are packed with loads of nutrition. They are suitable for your overall health as they contain protein, fiber, B vitamins, folic acid, niacin, vitamin E, and many other minerals like magnesium, zinc (check out our article on MTY blog about Zinc), copper, potassium, and antioxidants. And when it comes to heart health, they contain the nonessential amino acid arginine, which helps protect the artery walls’ inner lining.

Nuts also contain a high amount of monounsaturated fats, the same fats found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fats are heart-healthy and not the kind of fat you want to be afraid of. Some nuts are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that our body wants to make sure we get enough. Many truck drivers get an overabundance of Omega-6 and Omega-9’s in their diets due to the plethora of fast foods and processed foods. So nuts are a great go-to in an attempt to turn the tables in the Omega category.

 

Eating nuts and seeds regularly play a crucial role in managing health concerns like:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Heart Disease
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Dementia

But How Much is Too Many Nuts? 

Well, all nuts and seeds have a slightly different nutrition punch to bring to the handful. The key is to take nuts in at ½ ounce to 1-ounce servings daily up to five days a week. 

Check out our Nuts Realistic Serving Size Chart to see just how much you should be grabbing of nuts a day. 

Go Nuts Mother Trucker Yoga Blog How much nuts to eat

Nuts are Heart Healthy

Nuts help reduce coronary heart disease (after adjusting for other coronary heart disease factors) by eating five or more servings (5 ounces) of nuts per week by 35-50%. But I find it is important to note that, like anything, moderation is key. When you read this, you might begin to think, “well, I’ll just eat a ton of nuts then”. Well, that is not what this is suggesting; instead, let this be an excellent push for you to consider swapping out unhealthy heart compromising foods for a handful of nuts a few times a week. Remember, moderation is the key to improving our health, especially with nuts. 

Nuts can help with weight-loss

Nuts are the unsung hero when it comes to managing our weight. Because many still look at the fat content in nuts and think that will make them fat. They choose to stay away. But that isn’t true. Just a ½ an ounce per day of nutrition packed nuts is associated with less long-term weight gain. When you replace unhealthy foods like processed meats, fast food, and things like chips and cakes, nuts become a simple weight management strategy. 

Many researchers believe nuts aid in weight control for the following reasons: 

  • Chewing nuts takes effort.
  • High fiber delays stomach emptying.
  • The body absorbs not all the fat from nuts during the digestion process. 
  • Nuts have prebiotic properties.
  • Nuts help improve gut microbiome and intestinal health.

 

How To Shop for Nuts

Raw or sprouted and dehydrated nuts are best. Most nuts in the grocery store or truck stop are salted and contain high sodium content. The next time-nuts travel well, you are home or can stop at a grocery store to look for raw or unsalted nuts. And at a minimum, eating raw, unsalted nuts will move you light years ahead in a nut-healthy direction. For more information about soaking and sprouting your nuts, check out this great article on Vegetarian Times breaking down the soaking times and sprouting times by nut type. But don’t be overwhelmed; just switching to raw nuts will make a massive difference in your nut health benefits. 

I like to follow the health approach of Good, Better, Best. What is a good option, what is the better option, and what is the best option? I might not be able to do the best right now, and the better might be out of reach, but is there a good option to choose today? And then go from there. Health is not black or white and not all an all or nothing lifestyle. The same goes for nuts. 

Word of Caution

We are all unique, and our bodies all react differently to foods and environments due to our history or current health. If you are allergic, don’t eat them. If you are a compulsive eater or binge-eater, consider prepackaging your nuts into small bags to avoid overeating. Even healthy things can be overconsumed. When in doubt, ask your doctor or consider an allergy test to get to the bottom of a nut concern. Here at Mother Trucker Yoga, we want to empower drivers to build a toolbox of healthy options, but we also encourage drivers to use common sense and, when in doubt, seek medical advice. 

 

Lady Trucking Stiff Mother Trucker

 

 

 

The Power of Zinc: The Trace Mineral You Might Be Missing

Zinc

Zinc is a trace element and micronutrient essential for our overall health. Without zinc in our body, we would not be experiencing optional health, and this temple we call a body will begin to show it. Zinc is a mineral we all need for our body to function optimally. Second, to Iron, Zinc is the most abundant trace element, involved in various catalytic activities in the body.

Zinc is found in some foods naturally and is used in the form of dietary supplements. If are eating a poor diet lacking real foods like fruits and veggies and some lean meats, your diet is most likely lacking zinc.

Zinc deficiency in humans includes manifestations like diarrhea, alopecia, weight loss, intercurrent infections, neuro-sensory disorders, emotional disorders, and problems with wound healing. As someone who is in recovery from a wide variety of eating disorders, I know first hand the toll your body takes when you are lacking proper nutrition. Minerals like zinc are the foundation for our body to build on. We cannot absorb vitamins without minerals and zinc is on that list. If you are feeling stress make sure you read Mother Trucker Yoga’s 10 Quick Ways to Reduce Stress Blog to help.

It can be confusing when you start to pay better attention to your health, how much of what do you need and where to get it all. So in the charts below, you can easily see how much zinc you need depending on your age and what some sources of zinc could be in your diet today.

Required Daily Amount

Age Men Women
0-6 months 2 mg 2 mg
7-12 months 3 mg 3 mg
1-3 years 3 mg 3 mg
4-8  years 5 mg 5 mg
9-13 years 8 mg 8 mg
14< years 11 mg 8 mg
Pregnancy 11 mg
Lactation 12 mg

Zinc Nutrition Mother Trucker Yoga BLog

Sources of Zinc

Vegetarian

Food Items Milligrams per serving Percent DV
Peas (cooked ½ cup) 0.5 5
Yogurt (8 ounces) 1.7 15
Oatmeal (1 packet) 1.1 10
Almonds (1 ounce) 0.9 8
Cashews (1 ounce) 1.6 15
Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) 2.2 20
Baked beans (1/2 cup) 2.9 26
Chickpeas (1/2 cup) 1.3 12
Cheese (1 ounce) 1.2 11
Kidney beans (cooked ½ cup) 0.9 8

 

Non – vegetarian

Food Items

 

Milligrams Per serving Percent DV
Pork (3 ounces) 2.9 26
Chicken breast (1/2 breast)

 

o.9 8
Oysters (3 ounces)

 

74.0 673
Beef chuck (3 ounces)

 

7.0 64
Crab (3 ounces)

 

6.5 59
Lobster (3 ounces)

 

3.4 31
Chicken (dark meat) (3 ounces) 2.4 22

 

Trying to get your daily dose of zinc from natural food sources as much as possible is essential in building up a foundation of health within you. However, if you are severely deficient you may want to consider supplementing with zinc as you build up your reserves. As a recovering addict, one that struggled with a wide range of eating disorders my zinc levels were non-existent, and for several years I had to take zinc. Happily now in my thirties, I no longer have some of the lingering issues I once had.

Always seek further medical consultation to rule out other issues, but the good news is zinc is readily available in many foods.

Role of zinc in immunity

Many studies have proven the role of zinc effects of adequate zinc consumption on the immunity of our body. It boosts the cell-mediated immunity and balances the functions of humoral immunity.

Zinc is a crucial element for the development and function of neutrophils, natural killer cells, and innate immunity.

A study shows that macrophages (perform the function of killing the pathogen by phagocytosis), cytokine production, and intracellular killing are also affected by the deficiency of zinc in the body along with showing adverse effects in the growth and function of T and B cells.

Solomons NW. Mild human zinc deficiency produces an imbalance between cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Nutr Rev 1998;56:27-8

Benefits of Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that packs a powerful punch and one we often take for granted. When you are getting your daily dose of zinc your body gets to reap the benefits of several health perks!

Anti-Inflammatory

Its functions as an anti-oxidant and stabilization of membranes, strongly suggest that it has a hand in preventing the damage caused by the free radicals during the inflammatory process. What are free radicals, those are the guys who seal electrons from your body and start to sabotage your health one electron at a time. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants can help you combat free radicals and also boost zinc levels your body needs to remain healthy and inflammatory-free.

Heart-healthy

Studies have found that zinc supplements help in decreasing the levels of LDL (Bad Cholesterol) and triglycerides in the blood, preventing heart diseases at a major level.

(Ranasinghe, Priyanga et al. “Effects of Zinc supplementation on serum lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrition & metabolism vol. 12 26. 4 Aug. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12986-015-0023-4)

Another study shows that adequate zinc consumption helps in lowering systolic blood pressure in about 40 young women.

(Kim, Jihye. “Dietary zinc intake is inversely associated with systolic blood pressure in young obese women.” Nutrition research and practice vol. 7,5 (2013): 380-4. doi:10.4162/nrp.2013.7.5.380)

Enhances memory and learning

Research conducted at The University of Toronto suggests the role of zinc in neural communication with one another which eventually affect our memory and learning ability.

Wound Healing

Zinc is often used in skin creams to treat wounds or any rashes on the skin as it is assumed to play an important role in maintaining the integrity and the structure of the skin.

Other Possible zinc Benefits

  • Fights Acne
  • Used in patients with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Prevention and treatment of pneumonia
  • Age-related Macular Degeneration
  • Osteoporosis

Your health is your responsibility and there are many things you can do to help boost your health even while living over the road as a truck driver. Focus on what you can do, what you have access to, what steps you can take to make that next right decision. What you can do to make that next healthy choice, it may not seem like it will amount to anything when you just look at that one choice, but all those little choices add up to some really great health perks! Perks you get to benefit from every single day!

 

Other readings you might enjoy:

 

Choosing Healthy Food On The Road

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Choosing healthy fuel for your body is hard for anyone. It is even harder for truck drivers who are constantly on the road for days or even weeks at a time.

Eating healthy starts with you saying to yourself, “I can do this.” It’s mind over matter.

Sure, it’s easy to stop at a diner, truck stop, or fast food restaurant to grab a bite to eat.  These places are quick and convenient AND they are EVERYWHERE! However, the majority of food at these places is high in calories, fat, and sodium–none of the things that are going to help you improve your health. Not only is this food pretty unhealthy, but it can also be expensive, too!

The good news is that YOU have the ability to choose what you put into your body. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated–it’s just a matter of choosing the RIGHT FOODS and a little planning. 

These FIVE snack ideas require a minimal amount or no preparation time at all. They are perfect for the busy trucker who is constantly on the road. 

 

1. Fruit

 

The possibilities are endless:

  • Apples
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • berries

Some fruit may require extra storage or preparation, however, it’s a super simple option that is readily available at most rest stops. And when you are worried about sugar, remember “berries are best”.

 

2. Vegetables

 

Vegetables are super easy options that require little to no prep time.

  • Carrots
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • peppers

Adding hummus to the mix also gives you an extra boost of protein which will help keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.

 

3. Hard-Boiled Eggs

 

Before you’re about to head out on the road, boil some eggs, peel them once they cool, and then wrap them in plastic wrap before putting them into a container. Right before it’s time to leave, load the container up with ice and throw it into a cooler. It’s that easy! BONUS: Don’t want to make them yourself? No worries. Most truck stops sell pre-cooked eggs in their refrigerated section.

 

4. Mixed Nuts

 

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The best part: most places sell nuts that are pre-packaged and ready to go! No prep necessary! And when possible look for raw, and watch the salt content in some mixes.

 

5. Protein/Energy Bars

 

Choose a brand that has whole grains, is high in protein and fiber, has a low amount of sugar and is in the moderate calorie range. Protein/Energy bars are available almost anywhere you stop so they are another great grab and go option! Stay away from brands like Cliff or Luna as they are made with soy. We love Enduro Bites made in Colorado, and SoLo Glycemic Nutrition Bar, and my favorite the GFB – Gluten Free Bar

 

Choosing healthy food on the road takes practice, but the benefits are definitely worth it! 

 

Here are some other great recipes for you to try!

Healthy and Simple Recipes for Truckers

The Best Healthy Trucker Travel Lunch Recipe

The Best Granola Recipe: Truckers Travel Breakfast

Egg in a Basket (Egg in an Avocado)

Easy Mongolian Beef Made on the Truck