You've probably wondered: is dried fruit healthy? Sure, you always keep a package of raisins in your meal management bag for an emergency, but how much nutritional value is really in that little box? While there's no doubt that dried fruit is a healthier option for snacking than greasy chips, some say it's really no better than sugary candy. Today we aim to find out just how healthy it really is!
Yes, but there's a catch.
Is dried fruit healthy? Generally speaking, yes – but you have to choose the right kinds. The most important thing to look for is added sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup. (Pro tip: cherries and cranberries are often the worst offenders when it comes to added sugar content.) The easiest way to avoid unwanted sugars is simply to check the ingredients. The only one listed should be the fruit itself. You should also keep an eye out for packages marked "No Sulfites," which are the nutritionally-unnecessary preservatives that give dried fruit a more appealing color. So, is dried fruit healthy? If it's not very pretty, then yes, it probably is.
Many types of dried fruit contain a nice variety of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, including polyphenols, which are typically associated with improved digestive health, better blood flow, and reduced risk of a number of ailments. Research has linked increased antioxidant intake with not only lower body weight, but less body and belly fat as well – even without a reduction in calories.
Don't eat with your eyes.
The act of dehydration itself actually leads some nutrients to become more concentrated. One study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that the antioxidants in cranberries, grapes, and plums have double the potency of their fresh compatriots. While a piece of dried fruit holds roughly the same amount of nutrients as a piece of fresh fruit, it can have up to 3.5 times the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This is a double-edged sword, however, as that means it's easy to eat one too many handfuls. Be mindful of portion sizes to keep your dried fruit intake healthy.
When a fruit is dried, there is one vitamin that does get significantly reduced: vitamin C. So make sure to pair your dried fruit with some fresh citrus and you'll be on top of the world! Below, get the health benefit rundown on our top 3 choices for dried fruits.
- Loaded with fiber, potassium, iron, and B vitamins
- Low to medium glycemic index value
- Low insulin index
- High levels of the antioxidant catechin
- Good source of carbs
- Can improve blood sugar control, decrease inflammation, and lower blood pressure
- Loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and K
- Natural laxative
- Helps improve stool frequency and consistency
- High in boron, a mineral that can help fight osteoporosis
- Can reduce blood pressure
- Very filling
- Loaded with fiber, potassium, and iron
- Virtually fat-, cholesterol-, and sodium-free
- Low glycemic index
- One of the best antioxidant sources among all dried fruit
- Promotes heart health and can reduce the risk of heart disease
- Unique benefits to pregnant women; according to some studies, eating dates in the final weeks of pregnancy can help facilitate labor
Now you know: is dried fruit healthy? The short answer is yes, depending on the ingredients and size of your portion. If you need portable snacks to satisfy your sweet cravings without sacrificing nutrition, do it with the natural sweetness in dried fruit. No matter how you travel – with gym totes, duffle bags, even briefcases – there's always extra room for an emergency snack.