Most people enjoy dried fruits in foods like granola, trail mix and baked desserts. However, they also make fantastic healthy fruit snacks when you’re on the go.
Dried fruit is a convenient snack that is created from a natural, healthy food. Therefore, when it comes to health, nutrition and weight loss it is often a topic of debate. Dried fruit is different in many ways than its fresh version, but also retains some healthy characteristics. When deciding if you should enjoy dried fruit, there are a few things to consider regarding its nutrition health benefits.
How it is Made and Nutrients Retained
Dried fruit is a high energy food. Drying eliminates the fruit’s water content, concentrating the sugars. It only takes about ¼ cup of dried fruit to equal the calories in 1 cup of fresh, so portion control is imperative. Each That’s it. fruit bar has 100 calories and 3 grams of fiber to satisfy and keep you feeling full until your next meal.
While dried fruit in moderation can be a healthy snack, it is important to keep in mind that dried and fresh fruit are not identical when it comes to nutrients. The processes used to dry fruit commercially vary, but none of them can keep the dried fruit exactly the same as the fresh version. Drying removes the water from the fruit and concentrates it. It is safe to expect that your dried fruit doesn’t contain as many vitamins, minerals and food components, such as flavonoids, however this also doesn’t mean dried fruit is completely void of nutritional benefit. Flavonoids may be destroyed due their sensitivity to light and heat, but many vitamins and minerals are simply decreased, not eliminated. In addition, dried fruit still contains dietary fiber.
Calories and Sugar
The elimination of moisture and the concentration of the fruit cause dried fruit to contain more calories than fresh fruit. For example, generally 1 cup of the fresh fruit is equal to only 1/4 of a cup of the dried version when it comes to calories. This means that it is often necessary to practice portion control to ensure you don’t consume excess calories through endless snacking on dried fruit. It is important to check the labels of any dried fruit you buy because often some form of sugar, such as refined, high-fructose corn syrup has been added to make it sweeter. Extra sugar also adds more calories that you would not find in the fresh fruit. Look for dried fruits that are without added sweeteners or those using natural sweeteners such as concentrated juices.
Making Your Own
When it comes to dried fruit the healthiest version you can eat is the variety you make yourself. If you enjoy eating a lot of dried fruit, buy in a food dehydrator. These machines dry the fruit with warm air and you can make a large selection of fruits to snack on, such as apricots, apple slices, pear slices, bananas and berries. The at-home process will help to retain more nutrients and the dried fruit will provide dietary fiber. In addition, you can leave out any added sweeteners because it is likely you will find your freshly dried fruit sweet enough as it is. Also your fresh at-home version won’t contain potentially unhealthy preservatives to lengthen shelf life.
Health Benefits of Dried Fruit
Sugar isn’t the only thing that is concentrated in dried fruit. All of the nutrients are, too. Dried fruit is a marvelous source of nutrition in a small, delicious package.
Some of the more plentiful nutrients found in dried fruits include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. These are all critical to your health in a variety of ways.
Calcium, when paired with phosphorus, is necessary for maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Calcium by itself is important for a healthy heart and muscles, as well as the body’s proper manufacture of hormones and neurotransmitters. Calcium also helps you lose weight by causing your body to burn fat with greater efficiency. Beware that calcium requires vitamin D in order to be used by your body.
Chromium, found in abundance in apples, has a regulating effect on blood sugar and can stop a hypoglycemia attack almost instantly. Theoretically, chromium could help you lose fat because of its positive impact on blood sugar.
Magnesium is an electrolyte that is utilized by your muscles and nervous system and also helps to regulate your heart beat. People who don’t get enough magnesium may suffer from muscle spasms, cramps, anxiety and are more prone to heart attacks.
B vitamins are required for your nervous system and energy production. They also have the ability to increase sleep quality and enhance dreaming.
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, has all kinds of functions in the body. One if these is collagen production, upon which your skin, nails, joints, ligaments and tendons rely. It also has a protective effect on the heart and immune system.