Employee Wellness: Dried Fruits, Are They Just as Good for You?
Looking for a snack that makes you feel satiated, energized, and is beneficial to your body? Keep reading to learn more about how dried fruits may be what you're looking for!
What are Dried Fruits
Fruits have very high water content. Apricots, blueberries, oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums, and raspberries contain over 80% water. Watermelon and cantaloupe for example have some of the highest water content, at more than 90%. Dried fruit is when the almost all of the water content has been extracted through different drying methods.
When that happens, the fruit shrinks in size, leaving a bite sized energy-dense snack. The most common types of dried fruit you might have seen at a market include raisins, apricots, prunes, dates, and figs. Lately, food scientists have become quite adventurous in creating fruit jerky, which is another form of dried fruit where it is dehydrated and has a beef jerky-like pull and chewing texture, but sweet flavor.
What are the Benefits
Dried fruit is highly nutritious – just 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. However, certain nutrients like vitamin C, can be lower in dried vs. fresh fruits. With that being said, one serving can provide a large percentage of the recommended daily value of other vitamins and minerals, such as folate, potassium, and copper.
Dried fruit also contains a good amount of antioxidants, such as 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. According to Harvard Medical School Professor, Anthony Komaroff, M.D., dried fruits contain more fiber and more of the antioxidants called polyphenols than fresh fruit, per ounce. Fiber fights heart disease, obesity, and some types of cancer. People with diets rich in plant phenols have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, several kinds of cancer, and possibly degenerative brain diseases.
Research suggests that eating fruit is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Reasons for low fruit intake may include, but are not limited to high cost, perishability, and limited availability. One solution to all three of these may be consuming more dried fruits.
You must be aware of the ingredients when purchasing dried fruit as some dried fruit makers add sugars to the already sweet fruit. Additionally, since they are smaller in size, it is much easier to consume more dried fruit than fresh resulting in a higher calorie intake.
If you're interested in eating dried fruits, opt for the no-added-sugar options and be mindful of your portion size. It is important to remember that fresh fruit is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals, too. Use your favorite fruits to make the ultimate trail mix blend or eat it solo and experience the flavor of each fruit individually.
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Written by: Zena Hattar, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Harvard Health
3. Medical News Today