Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well
Dried fruit – Smart choice or sneaky snack?
We know fruit is healthy, but can dried fruit meet our daily needs? Dried fruit is high in fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Dried fruit can help relieve constipation, lower blood cholesterol and keep your stomach full and satisfied. Dried fruit is also high in potassium and iron.
“Dried fruit is a great choice for a portable, nutritious snack, but there are drawbacks,” says Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition/Health Specialist with MU Extension.
Depending on the specific drying process and treatments used, sulfur dioxide (a common additive) can preserve vitamins A and C in dried fruits. However, “Between pretreatment and dehydration processes, there is actually nutrient loss, for example, B vitamins,” shares Mills-Gray.
Also, dried fruits are calorically dense. One cup of fresh apricot halves has 74 calories, while about 1/4 cup of dried apricot halves (its equivalent) has 313 calories, more than four times the amount. Nibbling on dried fruits can be a great alternative to munching on cookies, crackers, candies and other snacks, but consume them in moderation. Just because they're fruit doesn't mean you should eat them in large amounts.
Mills-Gray adds, “Many dried fruits have added sulfites, so for those who are allergic to sulfites, make sure to choose organic dried fruits.”
Fresh fruits contain more vitamins and minerals than dried fruits, but both count toward the suggested daily two to three servings of fruit. Stick to fresh fruit as much as possible, but when you still want dried fruits, choose varieties without added sugars.
Last update: Tuesday, March 18, 2014