Before the invention of chemical additives to keep foods fresh, drying was one method of preserving food. Organisms that create food spoilage need water to survive. Basically, the drying process removes most of the moisture from the food, thus preserving it. The three most common methods of drying are solar, oven and an electric dehydrator.
What is Dried Fruit?
Dried fruit is fruit that has had almost all of the water content removed through drying methods.The fruit shrinks during this process, leaving a small, energy-dense dried fruit.
Raisins are the most common type, followed by dates, prunes, figs and apricots.Other varieties of dried fruit are also available, sometimes in candied form (sugar coated). These include mangoes, pineapples, cranberries, bananas and apples.
Dried fruit can be preserved for much longer than fresh fruit and can be a handy snack, particularly on long trips where refrigeration is not available.
Health Effects of Dried Fruit.
Several studies have shown that people who eat dried fruit tend to weigh less and ingest more nutrients, compared to individuals not eating dried fruit .
However, these studies were observational in nature, so they can not prove that the dried fruit caused the improvements.Dried fruit is also a good source of many plant compounds, including powerful.
Dried Fruit is Loaded With Micronutrients, Fiber and Antioxidants.
Dried fruit is highly nutritious.One piece of dried fruit contains about the same amount of nutrients as the fresh fruit, but condensed in a much smaller package.By weight, dried fruit contains up to 3.5 times the fiber, vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit.Therefore, one serving can provide a large percentage of the daily recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, such as folate .
However, there are some exceptions. For example, the vitamin C content is significantly reduced when the fruit is dried .Dried fruit generally contains a lot of fiber and is a great source of antioxidants, especially polyphenols .Polyphenol antioxidants are associated with health benefits such as improved blood flow, better digestive health, decreased oxidative damage and reduced risk of many diseases.
Dried Fruit is High in Natural Sugar and Calories.
Fruit tend to contain significant amounts of natural sugars.Because the water has been removed from dried fruit, this concentrates all the sugar and calories in a much smaller package.For this reason, dried fruit is very high in calories and sugar, including both glucose and fructose.
Below are some examples of the natural sugar content of dried fruit .
▪️ Raisins: 59%.
▪️ Dates: 64–66%.
▪️ Prunes: 38%.
▪️ Apricots: 53%.
▪️ Figs: 48%.
About 22–51% of this sugar content is fructose. Eating a lot of fructose may have negative health effects. This includes increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease .A small 1-ounce portion of raisins contains 84 calories, almost exclusively from sugar.
Because dried fruit is sweet and energy-dense, it is easy to eat large amounts at a time, which can result in excess sugar and calorie intake.
Avoid Dried Fruit with Added Sugar (Candied Fruit).
To make some dried fruit even more sweet and appealing, they are coated with added sugar or syrup before being dried.
Dried fruit with added sugar are also referred to as “candied” fruit.Added sugar has repeatedly been shown to have harmful effects on health, increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and even cancer.
To avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar, it is very important to read the ingredients and nutrition information found on the package.
Dried Fruit May Also Contain Sulfites, and May be Contaminated With Fungi and Toxins.
Some producers add preservatives called sulfites to their dried fruit.This makes the dried fruit look more appealing, because it preserves the fruit and prevents discoloration.This applies mainly to brightly colored fruits, such as apricots and raisins.
Some individuals may be sensitive to sulfites, and may experience stomach cramps, skin rashes and asthma attacks after ingesting them . To avoid sulfites, choose dried fruit that is brown or grayish rather than brightly colored .Dried fruit that is improperly stored and handled may also be contaminated with fungi, aflatoxins and other toxic compounds.
Fresh Fruit vs. Dried Fruit.
In terms of weight control, there is no comparison. Fresh fruit is the better choice. You get much more for fewer #calories. For instance, 1 cup of dried blueberries (sweetened) (296 blueberries) has 600 calories, whereas 1 cup of fresh blueberries has only 84 calories. So, before you start digging into a bag of dried apricots or cherries, consider how many you’re going to eat.
A low-calorie food is only a good deal if it fills you up at the end of a serving. The problem with dried fruit is that when the water is removed, it becomes less filling without losing any calories. Dried fruit just becomes sweeter, more concentrated and easier to over-consume. Plus, many producers of dried fruit add sugar, thus increasing their already dense calorie levels.
In fact, ounce-for-ounce, all types of dried fruit are much higher in calories than their fresh equivalents, because of the water that’s lost and the concentration of sugar that is created during the drying process. Take a look at raisins compared with grapes: They have about 73 percent less water than grapes.
What About Antioxidants?
In terms of the antioxidants in dried fruit, research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reported that dried figs and plums have the best nutrient scores. Additionally, the researchers concluded, “Dried fruits have a greater nutrient density, greater fiber content, increased shelf life, and significantly greater phenol antioxidant content compared to fresh fruits.
The quality of the antioxidants in the processed dried fruit is the same as in the corresponding fresh fruit.” However, vitamin C that is present in many fresh fruits is destroyed by heat in the drying process.
Bottom line: Dried fruit is high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in fat. It has significant antioxidant value; however, because it’s dried, its nutrients are very concentrated, and so are its calories. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended serving size for dried fruit is half that of fresh. I would also recommend portioning your dried fruit out into small, manageable serving sizes by splitting a regular bag into four to six servings.
Dried Fruit vs. Juice.
Even 100 percent juice has real calories. In most cases it has the same number of calories per serving as soda and sweetened iced tea. Juice is less filling than dried fruit, and it contains less of the fiber fruit is famous for (whose health benefits include reducing the risk of some cancers, lowering cholesterol and keeping you “regular”).
For instance, 1 cup of pineapple juice is 120 calories and has little or no fiber, whereas 10 pieces of dried pineapple chunks are about 140 calories, and the dried pineapple rings are about 65 to 70 calories each, with about 1 gram of fiber. Compare that with the fruit itself, which is about 70 calories per cup with about 2 grams of fiber.
Bottom line: Most varieties of dried fruit have most of the fiber and nutrients that are in fresh fruit. Whereas the juice may have many of the antioxidants, but it is missing the fiber, and it isn’t as filling. Dried fruit (without added sugar) might be the better bet compared with juice.
Dried Fruit vs. Freeze-dried.
Freeze-dried foods are not just for astronauts and hikers. Freeze-drying food removes the water almost entirely, which lowers the weight, and while you don’t get the same feelings of fullness you do from dried fruit (which is about 25 percent water vs. 6 percent for freeze-dried), it can be a satisfying snack that still has health perks. The antioxidants found in the fresh fruit are maintained after freeze-drying.
has a freeze-drying process that removes the water while maintaining the product’s cell structure and nutritional value and intensifying its natural flavor.
Freeze-dried food also tends to come in lower-weight packages than dried – which means fewer calories if you eat the whole package. A bag of dried fruit can be about 450-500 calories, whereas each full bag of freeze-dried fruit (equivalent to 1/2 cup of fresh fruit) makes for a satisfying snack at only 80 calories with 1 gram of fiber. So freeze-dried fruit can be a healthy alternative to chips and other snack foods. Other benefits of freeze-dried fruit are that it has a long shelf life and can be stored and/or easily packed for on-the-go eating. And finally, freeze-dried fruit, unlike regular dried, is often made without any added sugar.
“Dried Fruit: Good or Bad?”, www.healthline.com,4-6-2017
Dried Fruit: Is It Really Nature’s Candy?”, www.dietdetective.com,16-8-2012