Dried fruits are dehydrated fruits that have been ripped off their water content through natural or specialized drying machines (dryers). This process shrinks the fruits, which though reduces its size, makes it dense in energy and nutrients.
Another benefit is that dried fruits can be preserved for a much longer time than fresh fruits, making them an ideal snack on travel trips and places where refrigeration is not possible.
The Nutritive Content Of Dried Fruits
A single dried fruit has 3.5 times the vitamins, fiber and minerals of the fresh fruit by weight an can provide a large portion of the recommended dietary intake of vitamins and minerals such as folate.
However, there are a few exceptions, such as vitamin C, which is significantly reduced when the fruit is dried. Dried fruits are rich in antioxidants, especially polyphenols, and fiber. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant containing a polyphenolic substructure that can increase blood circulation, improve digestion, decrease oxidative damage and reduce the risk of degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Here are some commonly eaten dried fruits and their health benefits.
1) Raisins (Dried Grapes)
Raisins have a medium to low glycemic and insulin index. Studies show that raisins can [5,6,7,8,9,10]
- Improve control over blood sugar levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase satiety
- Decrease inflammation and cholesterol levels
A great source of fiber, potassium and iron, dates are a rich source of antioxidants that can be useful in reducing oxidative damage. Besides, their low glycemic index does not cause a major spike in blood sugar levels.
When eaten during the last few weeks of pregnancy, dates increase cervical dilation and decrease the necessity for inducing labor. A clinical study showed that only four percent of the date-eating women went for induced labor in comparison than the ones who didn’t.
3) Prunes (Dried Plums)
Prunes are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin K and beta-carotene. Being highly nutritious, prunes are known for their laxative effect, which is caused by their high fiber content and a sugar alcohol called sorbitol. Prunes are thought to be more effective at relieving constipation and stool frequency compared to the drug psyllium.
Prunes are rich in boron, a mineral that can help fight osteoporosis. Being rich in antioxidants, prunes could inhibit the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and thus prevent heart disease and cancer.[17,18]
Dried fruits are high in calories and naturally occurring sugar. The removal of water through the process of dehydration condenses the calories and sugars.
Figs have 48 percent, prunes 38 percent, dates 64-66 percent, raisins 59 percent and apricots have 53 percent of sugar content.
Depending on the dried fruit, 21-51 percent of the sugar content is fructose. Excessive fructose intake is associated with weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Rich in fiber and nutrients, dried fruits are packed with antioxidants. However, being high in sugar and calories, they should be eaten in small amounts only. You can safely eat four to seven pieces of a dried fruit every day to reap its multiple health benefits.
10 Minerals Your Body Needs & How You Can Get Them
6 Must-Have Foods During Pregnancy
5 Natural Ways To Prevent Sugar Cravings
Fresh Fruit Fondue With Dark Chocolate
Prenatal Vitamins For A Healthy Pregnancy
1. Bennett LE, Singh DP, Clingeleffer PR. Micronutrient mineral and folate content of Australian and imported dried fruit products. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jan;51(1):38-49. doi: 10.1080/10408390903044552. Review. PubMed PMID:
2. Piga A, Del Caro A, Corda G. From plums to prunes: influence of drying parameters on polyphenols and antioxidant activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jun 4;51(12):3675-81. PubMed PMID: 12769544.
3. Vinson JA, Zubik L, Bose P, Samman N, Proch J. Dried fruits: excellent in vitro and in vivo antioxidants. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Feb;24(1):44-50. PubMed PMID: 15670984.
4. Landete JM. Updated knowledge about polyphenols: functions, bioavailability, metabolism, and health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(10):936-48. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2010.513779. Review. Retraction in: Landete JM. Crit Rev Food
Sci Nutr. 2015;55(12):1792. PubMed PMID: 22747081.
5. Anderson JW, Waters AR. Raisin consumption by humans: effects on glycemia and insulinemia and cardiovascular risk factors. J Food Sci. 2013 Jun;78 Suppl 1:A11-7. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12071. Review. PubMed PMID: 23789931.
6. Bays HE, Schmitz K, Christian A, Ritchey M, Anderson J. Raisins And Blood Pressure: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;59(13s1):E1721. doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(12)61722-7.
7. Anderson JW, Weiter KM, Christian AL, Ritchey MB, Bays HE. Raisins compared with other snack effects on glycemia and blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial. Postgrad Med. 2014 Jan;126(1):37-43. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2014.01.2723. PubMed PMID: 24393750.
8. Patel BP, Luhovyy B, Mollard R, Painter JE, Anderson GH. A premeal snack of raisins decreases mealtime food intake more than grapes in young children. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Apr;38(4):382-9. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0309. Epub 2013 Apr 1. PubMed PMID: 23713530.
9. Puglisi MJ, Vaishnav U, Shrestha S, Torres-Gonzalez M, Wood RJ, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Raisins and additional walking have distinct effects on plasma lipids and inflammatory cytokines. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Apr 16;7:14. doi:
10.1186/1476-511X-7-14. PubMed PMID: 18416823; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2329638.
10. Kim Y, Hertzler SR, Byrne HK, Mattern CO. Raisins are a low to moderate glycemic index food with a correspondingly low insulin index. Nutr Res. 2008 May;28(5):304-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2008.02.015. PubMed PMID: 19083424.
11. Rahmani AH, Aly SM, Ali H, Babiker AY, Srikar S, Khan AA. Therapeutic effects of date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera) in the prevention of diseases via modulation of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-tumour activity. Int J Clin Exp Med.
2014 Mar 15;7(3):483-91. eCollection 2014. Review. PubMed PMID: 24753740; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3992385.
12. Miller CJ, Dunn EV, Hashim IB. The glycaemic index of dates and date/yoghurt mixed meals. Are dates ‘the candy that grows on trees’? Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;57(3):427-30. PubMed PMID: 12627179.
13. Masoumeh Kordi, Fatemeh Aghaei Meybodi, Fatemeh Tara, Mohsen Nemati, Mohammad Taghi Shakeri. The Effect of Late Pregnancy Consumption of Date Fruit on Cervical Ripening in Nulliparous Women. Article 1, Volume 2, Issue 3, July 2014, Page 150-156
14. Al-Kuran O, Al-Mehaisen L, Bawadi H, Beitawi S, Amarin Z. The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011;31(1):29-31. doi: 10.3109/01443615.2010.522267. PubMed PMID: 21280989.
15. Lever E, Cole J, Scott SM, Emery PW, Whelan K. Systematic review: the effect of prunes on gastrointestinal function. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Oct;40(7):750-8. doi: 10.1111/apt.12913. Epub 2014 Aug 11. Review. PubMed PMID:
16. Boron. J Diet Suppl. 2008;5(1):62-94. doi: 10.1080/19390210802329352. Review. PubMed PMID: 22433045.
17. Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M, Bowen PE, Hussain EA, Damayanti-Wood BI, Farnsworth NR. Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food? Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2001 May;41(4):251-86. Review. PubMed PMID:11401245.
18. Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M. Dried plums and their products: composition and health effects–an updated review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(12):1277-302. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.563880. Review. PubMed PMID: 24090144.
19. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. Site: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/ Accessed on 16 September 2015.
20. Tappy L, Lê KA. Metabolic effects of fructose and the worldwide increase in obesity. Physiol Rev. 2010 Jan;90(1):23-46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00019.2009. Review. PubMed PMID: 20086073.