Is Dried Fruit Good For Health?
Are you not sure whether dried fruits are good for you or not? Some people say that they are a healthy and nutritious snack whereas others say that they are just like candy.
So, what is a dried fruit in the first place? Well, it is a fruit from which all the water content has been removed by certain drying methods. In the process, the fruit shrinks leaving a small-sized but energy dense fruit. The common kinds of dried fruits are raisins, dates, prunes, apricots and figs. The biggest pro of dried fruit is that you can keep it much longer than the fresh fruit version and you can snack on it while travelling when you are hungry.
Dried fruit is packed with micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants
Dried fruit is immensely nutritious. A single piece of dried fruit has the same amount of nutrients as a fruit that is fresh, but it is all in a smaller package!
Dried fruit contains 3.5 times the fibre, minerals and vitamins present in fresh fruit. However, vitamin C gets reduced significantly on drying the fruit. Dried fruit is rich in fibre and polyphenols (antioxidants).
Effect of dried fruits on health
Studies show that people who eat more dried fruits ingest more nutrients and at the same time weight less when compared to individuals who don’t eat dried fruits. However, the studies being observational do not prove that it was the dried fruit caused all the improvements.
Dried grapes are called raisins. They are loaded with fibre, potassium and plant compounds that promote health. They have a low to medium GI index and also a low insulin index. This means that raisins do not cause a lot of spikes in the levels of blood sugar or insulin post meals.
Eating raisins can-
- Lower BP
- Control blood sugar
- Reduce inflammation and blood cholesterol
- Increase the feeling of fullness
Dried plums are called prunes. They naturally contain antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Prunes are well known for their laxative effects. They are more effective in relieving constipation than psyllium.
Eating prunes can-
- Inhibit oxidation of bad cholesterol and prevent heart disease
- Prevent cancer
- Prevent osteoporosis
Of all the dried fruits, dates are the ones with maximum amount of antioxidants. They are a great source of fiber, iron, potassium and other plant compounds.
They also have a low GI meaning that they don’t cause sudden spikes in the levels of blood sugar. Dates are known to be healthy for all especially for pregnant women.
Dried fruit has high amount of natural sugar and calories
Dried fruit has concentrated amounts of natural sugars and calories as the water is removed. Have a look at the sugar content of dried fruits
- Dates: 64–66%.
- Raisins: 59%.
- Apricots: 53%.
- Figs: 48%.
- Prunes: 38%.
Eating too much of dried fruits can result in excess calorie and sugar intake. This can lead to weight gain! So, eat within limits.
Avoid dried fruit with added sugar
At times dried fruits are coated with added sugar or syrup before the process of drying. Such dried fruits are often called ‘candied’ fruits. Make sure that you read labels before purchasing dried fruit. Added sugar has a lot harmful effects on health.
Dried fruit can contain sulfites and can be contaminated with fungi and toxins
Sulfites are added to dried fruit by some people to make it look more appealing as it prevents the discolouration of fruits and preserves them well. Certain people can have problems like stomach cramps, skin rashes and asthma attacks due to sulfites. Choose dried fruit that is not brightly coloured. Dried fruit if not handled properly can be contaminated with fungi and other toxins.
The bottom line
Dried fruits have both negatives and positives. They are high in sugar and calories but at the same time also provide you with nutrients in huge amounts. Eat them in small amounts and let me tell you that they aren’t suitable for those on a low carb diet. However, it is anytime better than chips or processed junk food!
Hope you found this post informative!
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