Information about dried fruit can be a little conflicting, since some sources claim that it’s just as healthy as fresh fruit, while others say that it’s no better then candy. Dried fruit is made by removing almost all of the water content from the fruit, which leaves behind a small nutrient-dense snack, so in theory, it should be just as health as the fruit that it’s made from. It also has great snacking potential because it can be preserved for so long without refrigeration, and can be made with almost any kind of fruit. However, do the health benefits that dried fruit pack outweigh the dangers posed by additives that some companies slip into their product? You be the judge!
Benefits of Dried Fruit
High in Micronutrients, Fiber and Antioxidants
Since dried fruit is a compressed version of it’s fresh counterpart, it contains the same amount of nutrients as a normal fruit, but packed into a much smaller space. Although the vitamin C intake is reduced slightly when fruit is dried, dried fruit contains up to 3.5 times the fiber, vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit by weight.
Prunes Are A Natural Laxative
Prunes are dried plumes, and they are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin K. Because of the high content of sugar and anti-oxidants, prunes are great for the digestive system. They are also very filling, but don’t cause any spikes in blood sugar levels.
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Raisins Help Reduce Risk of Certain Diseases
Raisins are often used as a substitute for candy as a snack or in baked products. Because they’re dried grapes, they’re high in fiber and potassium, and have a very low insulin index. Raisins have been found to:
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve blood sugar control.
- Decrease inflammatory markers and blood cholesterol.
- Lead to increased feeling of fullness.
Drawbacks of Dried Fruit
May Contain Sulfites and Preservatives
While dried fruits in their natural form are generally as good for you as normal fresh fruit, the danger comes when things are added to fruit in the drying process. For example, some producers add sulfites to their dried fruit in order to keep the fruit look more appealing and prevent discoloration.
May be High in Added Sugar
When choosing a selection of dried fruit to eat, make sure to check the packaging or the source to ensure that they aren’t loaded down with added sugar. Dried fruit purchased from the store often has sugar added to improve the taste. This is usually called ‘candied fruit’, and should be avoided.
High in Natural Sugar and Calories
Fresh fruits contain significant amounts of natural sugars and nutrients, so when they’re dried, all of this goodness gets backed into a smaller food. However, because it’s so small, it’s very easy to keep snacking and overload yourself on calories and fructose. Here’s a quick look at the sugar level in popular dried fruit:
- Raisins: 59%.
- Dates: 64–66%.
- Prunes: 38%.
- Apricots: 53%.
- Figs: 48%.
Clearly, you don’t want too much of this sugar. So it’s important to keep tabs on how much you’re eating.
Dried fruits can be extremely healthy for you, and a perfect on-the-go snack, but only if you take the care to check the packaging for added sugars and preservatives. Don’t be tricked into thinking that dried fruit has nothing added to. As with any food you buy, make sure to check the ingredients list before you buy it. Dried fruits don’t need anything added to them to taste great! With all those natural sugars, dried fruit makes for an awesome healthy snack.
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