dried fruits

Dried Fruits: What You Need to Know

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There’s so much information about dried fruits on the web. Some praise their nutritive values, while others claim that they are no better than candy. Let’s try to figure out the actual states of dry fruit affairs in this article.

What’s a dry fruit?

When you remove the water content from the normal fruit through a drying process, you turn it into a dry fruit. Dry fruits are shrunk and energy-dense fruits compared to fresh fruits. Raisins, apricots, prunes, and figs are some of the most common varieties of dried fruits. The good thing about dried fruits is that you can preserve them for much longer than fresh fruit.

The nutritious value of dried fruit

Dried fruits are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients. You get the same amount of nutrients from a single piece of dried fruit as the fresh fruit, only it’s shrunk and condensed in a smaller package. You may not know this but dried fruit contains up to 3.5 times the minerals, vitamins, and fiber of fresh fruit. What this means is that you only need a small quantity of dried fruit to get a large percentage of vitamin and mineral intakes that are recommended daily.

Dried fruits don’t come without a caveat though. One example is the vitamin C content in fruits which is significantly reduced when you put it through a drying process. But, generally, dried fruits have amazing health benefits — they contain a lot of fiber and are a great source of vitamins, antioxidants, and micronutrients.

Health effects of dried fruits

Studies suggest that those who eat dried fruits tend to ingest more nutrients and weigh less compared to people not consuming dried fruits. However, it’s to be noted that linking dried fruit to a reduced risk of obesity and increased intake of nutrients is observational in nature. As such, these studies haven’t scientifically proven a direct relation between dried fruit consumption and these improvements.

On the positive side, a number of studies associate many health benefits with the consumption of dried fruits. Such as:

  • Dried fruits are a good source of antioxidants — the molecules that fight free radicals in our bodies, thus reducing the spread of illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Raisins (dried grapes) are a great source of potassium, fiber, and various plant compounds that come with numerous health benefits. They can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, decrease blood cholesterol, and improve blood sugar control. These factors are positively associated with reduced risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Prunes (aka dried plums) are natural laxatives due to their high fiber content and they can help combat diseases like constipation, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Dates are not only incredibly sweet, but they also come with many health benefits. Women can benefit from their consumption during pregnancy as they help facilitate cervical dilation and decrease the need for induced labor. Eating dates can also help prevent major spikes in blood sugar levels as well as oxidative damage in our bodies.

On the downside, dried fruits are usually high in calories and natural sugar. This is due to the fact that water is removed from dried fruits, causing calories and all the sugar to concentrate in a much smaller package.

You also want to avoid consuming candied fruits — dried fruits with added sugar. You may not prefer to coat your dried fruits with added sugar to make them sweeter and more appealing at the risk of your health. Added sugar has adverse effects on our health and, as studies repeatedly show, it increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.

Bottom line

Dried fruits are good but there are some negative aspects as well, making it all the more sensible to use them in moderation. Eat them in small amounts and along with other nutritious food, but avoid them with added sugar as far as possible. You can say that dried fruits are far from perfect, but they are certainly more nutritious and healthy snacks than all the other forms of snacks and processed foods.

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