Whether you’re hitting the road for an extended time or need a little convenient energy boost throughout your day, dried fruit can undoubtedly be a big help.
They don’t need to be refrigerated and can last months before going bad, plus compared to regular fruit, that sounds a lot more favorable, right? But, what’s the difference? Does the fruit being dried translate to different or fewer health benefits?
Spoiler alert: depending on the brand and fruit, yes — dried fruit can often have fewer benefits than fresh fruit,
It’s always important to know what you’re putting in your body, and a lot of people think that because dried fruit is more convenient to purchase and store, they’re just as healthy as fresh fruit.
Oddly enough, there are a lot of differences between being the same thing as fruit except dried, specifically with the calorie and sugar count.
Remember that “healthy” is a relative term. There are healthy and unhealthy foods, like broccoli versus a candy bar. However, some foods can fall in between.
Dried fruits are one of those foods. There are clear benefits and downsides, and their healthiness will be relative to your goals and needs.
Below, we’ll discuss the differences between dried and regular fruits, how this impacts their health benefits, and attempt to answer the question: Is dried fruit still healthy?
Dried fruit results from removing most or all of the water from the fruit. Drying occurs through sun drying or special machines that extract all water content.
Once the fruit is dried out, they become significantly smaller. This decrease in size allows dried fruits to be made, sold, and consumed in abundance.
Raisins, prunes, figs, apricots, and peaches are popular dried fruits. Raisins and prunes are made when grapes and plums have all water content removed, respectively.
Other fruits can be dried out as well, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s see how the removal of water can have different effects on dried fruit.
We always prefer the good news first over the bad news, so we’ll start with some positive health benefits of dried fruit.
Yes, dried fruit means there’s no longer any water content. However, it’s still a fruit, and you’re still getting similar levels of nutrients to those in fresh fruits.
Dried fruits are tiny compared to regular fruits, which means you can consume many of them in one sitting. You do lose some vitamin content, especially vitamin C. For example, a fresh plum contains 16% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake, while prunes have less than 1%.
Besides that, the fiber, antioxidants, and other vitamin content remain almost the same.
Fiber is especially important in fruits, as they offer numerous health benefits. This dietary fiber can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and lower your risk for chronic illnesses, not to mention it promotes healthy digestion.
So, if you’re getting almost the same health benefits from dried fruits and can consume more of them, why not only eat dried fruits?
Because they’re so small, this compacts all of the sugars and calories into one tiny piece of fruit that you can eat in abundance, not to mention that dried fruits often have a notable amount of added sugar to make them sweeter and more desirable.
For example, a small box of raisins can contain anywhere from 20 to 40 grams of sugar, which is close to the max recommended daily amount of sugar for the average adult.
Sugar content will depend on how many you eat, the brand, and the type of fruit.
Being so small can be both bad and good. Positively, you are getting the nutrients of fruit in small amounts. Negatively, you can end up eating more than you need, and it tastes so naturally sweet you may forget that extra honey or molasses or just plain cane sugar that was added to make it extra snackable.
So while you can still gain nutritional value from dried fruit, overindulging can lead to some problems down the road, precisely because of sugar. Even though the sugar can be all-natural, too much is still bad for you.
The best and healthiest dried fruits tend to be the most popular. Almost any fruit can be dried, but most end up having that sugary coating, making them unhealthy.
Many fruits already have large amounts of sugar, so adding more to a small piece of dried fruit will make the sugar levels skyrocket.
If you’re a fan of or want to start eating more dried fruit, here are our recommendations for the ones you should try:
On the one hand, getting the nutrients and benefits of fruit without spending or consuming a lot is fantastic, in theory.
On the other hand, dried fruits can be so high in added sugar and calories that overeating can cause unhealthy weight gain and other problems.
So what should you do?
Try and find a middle ground. If you’re at a convenience store or gas station and you’re picking between a bag of chips or raisins, choose the raisins every single time.
Don’t completely cut fresh fruit out of your diet because you’re eating it dried, either. Fresh fruit is still an essential part of your diet, and you shouldn’t ignore it because you like sweeter dried fruit more.
Additionally, your health goals and routines should also be a factor if you decide to eat dried fruit. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should consume more fresh fruit than dried fruit, again because of the added sugar in many dried fruit snacks.
If weight loss isn’t a priority for you and you have a dedicated daily movement routine, dried fruit can help before and after physical activity.
To summarize: Dried fruit resides right between the line of healthy and unhealthy. They’re loaded with nutrients and are small for easy consumption but can be high in sugar and calories. Pick dried fruit over junk food like candy or chips every time, but be careful and watch how much you’re consuming.
We discussed how your health goals could impact what you eat, specifically with dried fruit. But, do you know what your health goals are?
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