Information about the health benefits of dried fruit is conflicting. A lot of people claim that they are nutritious and healthy, whereas, some others say that dried fruits are no better than candy. Hence, through this article, we analyze whether these plant-based foods are healthy or not.
What Are Dried Fruits?
Dried fruits are fruits that have undergone different drying methods for removing the water content in them. They have almost all of their water content removed.
When undergoing drying processes, these fruits will shrink and leave fruits that are energy-dense. Some of the best dried fruits available in the market include raisins, dates, prunes, apricots, and figs.
Other types of dried fruits are also available and many of them come in candied forms (with sugar coating). Some of such dried fruits include pineapples, mangoes, bananas, cranberries, and apples.
Dried fruits can be preserved for longer periods when compared to fresh fruits and they can act as a handy snack, especially when you are on a trip where there is no refrigeration available.
Dried Fruits Are Loaded With Micronutrients, Antioxidants, And Fiber
Dried fruits have an impressive nutrient profile. They carry almost the same amount of nutrients present in fresh fruits. Dried fruits contain 3.5 times more nutrients than fresh fruits by weight. Some of the important nutrients present in them include vitamins, minerals, fiber, as well as antioxidants. Therefore, dried fruits can provide you a huge amount of the recommended daily intake of various nutrients like folate.
However, certain nutrients will be lost when fruits are dried. For example, the vitamin C content in dried fruits will be significantly low, as this water-soluble vitamin will be lost when dried.
Dried fruits are usually high in fiber and are an excellent source of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols. Various polyphenol antioxidants are found to provide different health benefits like better digestive health, improved blood flow, reduced oxidative stress, and decreased risk of many diseases.
Health Benefits Of Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are associated with many health benefits. Some studies suggest that people who consume dried fruits usually tend to weigh less and get more nutrients when compared to people who do not eat them. But these studies were for observation, hence, they cannot establish that dried fruits are responsible for the improvements.
Dried fruits are also an important source of many essential plant compounds like strong antioxidants which can be beneficial for preventing the risk of a large number of health conditions. Hence, they can be beneficial for people to get a wide array of nutrients, especially for those who follow plant-based diets.
The following are some of the important benefits provided by dried fruits:
Raisins Might Reduce The Risk Of Some Diseases
They are dried grapes. Raisins are packed with high amounts of fiber, potassium, and a wide array of other beneficial plant compounds.
Raisins are found to have a glycemic index value that ranges from low to medium. They also have a low insulin index. Hence, raisins usually do not result in a major rise in blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.
Eating raisins might help to:
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduce blood cholesterol and decrease inflammatory markers.
- Improve blood sugar.
- Induce the feeling of fullness.
These effects of raisins can be beneficial for reducing the risk of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Prunes Can Act As Natural Laxatives
They are dried plums. Prunes are incredibly high in fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, and vitamin K. This plant-based food can act as natural laxative because of the presence of high amounts of fiber and a particular sugar alcohol known as sorbitol. Hence, prunes can help to prevent constipation and similar problems.
Prunes are also a great source of powerful antioxidants that can help to control the oxidation of LDL cholesterol thereby preventing the risk of heart diseases and cancer. Prunes are also rich in boron, which is a mineral that can help to prevent osteoporosis.
Dates Are A Great Choice For Pregnant Women
Dates are a wonderful source of iron, potassium, fiber, and a lot of other beneficial plant compounds. They have the highest oxidative content among all dried fruits. Hence, they can help to fight different diseases caused by oxidative stress.
Dates can be useful for pregnant women, as they can aid to facilitate cervical dilation thereby reducing the need for induced labor.
Dried fruits might have some disadvantages too, which are discussed below:
Dried Fruits Can Have Added Sugar
A lot of dried fruits available in the market come with added sugar that can be harmful to your health. Hence, make sure to avoid dried fruits with added sugar.
Dried Fruits Might Contain Sulfites And May Be Contaminated With Fungi And Other Toxins
Some dried fruits might have sulfites that are added as preservatives by manufacturers. These chemicals can cause different health issues like skin rashes, stomach cramps, etc.
Also, if dried fruits are not properly handled, they might become contaminated with fungi and other toxins that can be harmful to your body.
Therefore, it is important to consider all these factors when planning to add dried fruits to your everyday diet plans.