The amazing health benefits of fruit are well known. Consumption of fruits has been shown to do everything from reduce the risk of cancer to helping with the promotion of weight loss. Fruits also have been shown in studies to have a blood pressure lowering effect due to their low sodium and high potassium content. With more and more health benefits of fruits being identified, it’s not surprising that people are increasing their intake of these sweet and colorful orbs. Due to their convenience, many people are also reaching for bags of dried fruit to fulfill their fruit quota. But are dried fruits healthy?
Although fruit in any form is going to be healthier than a creamy popsicle or a nougat rich candy bar, the health value of dried fruit is less clear. When fruit is dried, the process used to remove the water also removes many of the water soluble vitamins including Vitamin C, the B vitamins, and potassium. Since it’s potassium that gives the blood pressure lowering effect, dried fruit may not favorably affect the blood pressure profile as fresh fruit is known to do. Plus, the sugars present in the fruit become more concentrated as the water is removed which means you’ll consume more calories with dried fruit than you would for an equal number of pieces of fresh fruit.
Another problem with substituting dried fruit for fresh fruit is that many dried fruits contain sulfites which are used as a preservative. Some people are known to have severe allergic reactions to foods that contain sulfites, further calling into question the health of dried fruits. One way to resolve this problem is to purchase organic dried fruits which generally are free of sulfites.
Although not as healthy as fresh fruits, there are health benefits of dried fruit that can make them worth keeping on hand. Dried fruits are a good source of fiber and roughage which can help to promote colon health. Plus, they have a shelf life of up to a year and take up little shelf space in your cabinets. When you’re ready to eat them, it’s as simple as tearing the wrapper off the package and enjoying them straight from the bag.
To get the health benefits of dried fruit, try sprinkling them lightly on your morning oatmeal or other cereal, adding them to yogurt, baking them into quick breads, or using them as salad decorations. This is an excellent solution for the colder months when you may not have access to a plentiful supply of quality fresh fruit. When summer comes and fresh fruit is in abundance, you may derive more potential health benefits from switching to fresh fruit.
Although the health of dried fruits may not live up to that of fresh fruits, it’s still a nice option to have on hand when you don’t have access to fresh produce. And it sure beats eating that decadent piece of three-layer cake!