By Adda Bjarnadottir
Information about dried fruit is very conflicting. Some say it is a nutritious, healthy snack, while others claim it is no better than candy.
This is a detailed article about dried fruit and how it can affect your health.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
What is Dried Fruit?
Dried fruit has had almost all of the water content removed through drying methods.
The fruit shrinks during this process, leaving a small, energy-dense dried fruit.
Raisins are the most common type, followed by dates, prunes, figs and apricots.
Dried fruit can be preserved for much longer than fresh fruit and can be a handy snack, particularly on long trips where refrigeration is not available.
Bottom line: Dried fruit has had most of the water content removed. The most common varieties are raisins, dates, prunes, figs and apricots.
Dried Fruit is Loaded With Micronutrients, Fiber and Antioxidants
Dried fruit is highly nutritious.
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.
Therefore, one serving can provide a large percentage of the daily recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, such as folate (1).
However, there are some exceptions. For example, the vitamin C content is significantly reduced when the fruit is dried (2).
Bottom line: Dried fruit is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also high in phenolic antioxidants, which have numerous health benefits.
Health Effects of Dried Fruit
However, these studies were observational in nature, so they can not prove that the dried fruit caused the improvements.
Bottom line: Eating dried fruit has been linked to an increased intake of nutrients and a reduced risk of obesity.
Raisins May Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases
Raisins are dried grapes.
They are packed with fiber, potassium and various health-promoting plant compounds.
This means that raisins should not cause major spikes in blood sugar or insulin levels after meals.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve blood sugar control.
- Decrease inflammatory markers and blood cholesterol.
- Lead to increased feeling of fullness.
All of these factors should contribute to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Bottom line: Raisins are high in fiber, potassium and other plant compounds. Eating raisins may improve blood sugar control, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol, as well as, decrease inflammation.
Prunes are Natural Laxatives and May Help Fight Diseases
Prunes are dried plums.
They are highly nutritious, being rich in fiber, potassium, beta-carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin K.
They are known for their natural laxative effects.
This is caused by their high content of fiber and a sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which is found naturally in some fruit.
Eating prunes has been shown to help improve stool frequency and consistency. Prunes are considered to be even more effective at relieving constipation than psyllium, which is another common remedy (18).
Prunes are also rich in a mineral called boron, which can help fight osteoporosis (21).
Furthermore, prunes are very filling and should not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels (19).
Bottom line: Prunes have a natural laxative effect because of their fiber and sorbitol content. They are also very filling, and may help fight oxidative damage in the body.
Dates May Benefit Pregnancy and Help Prevent Several Diseases
Dates are incredibly sweet. They are a great source of fiber, potassium, iron and several plant compounds.
Dates have a low glycemic index, which means that eating them should not cause major spikes in blood sugar levels (23).
Date consumption has also been studied in relation to pregnant women and labor.
Eating dates regularly during the last few weeks of pregnancy may help facilitate cervical dilation, as well as, decrease the need for induced labor (24).
One study had women eat dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Only four percent of the date-eating women required induced labor, compared to 21 percent of those who did not consume dates (25).
Dates have also shown promising results in animal and test-tube studies as a remedy for infertility in males, but human studies are lacking at this point (22).
Bottom line: Dates are rich in antioxidants, potassium, iron and fiber. Eating dates may help reduce oxidative damage, moderate blood sugar and help with labor in pregnant women.
Dried Fruit is High in Natural Sugar and Calories
Fruit tends to contain significant amounts of natural sugars.
Because the water has been removed from dried fruit, this concentrates all the sugar and calories in a much smaller package.
For this reason, dried fruit is very high in calories and sugar, including both glucose and fructose.
Below are some examples of the natural sugar content of dried fruit (26).
- Raisins: 59 percent
- Dates: 64–66 percent
- Prunes: 38 percent
- Apricots: 53 percent
- Figs: 48 percent
A small 1-ounce portion of raisins contains 84 calories, almost exclusively from sugar.
Because dried fruit is sweet and energy-dense, it is easy to eat large amounts at a time, which can result in excess sugar and calorie intake.
Bottom line: Dried fruit is relatively high in calories and sugar. Common dried fruits contain 38–66% sugar, and eating too much of them may contribute to weight gain and various health problems.
Avoid Dried Fruit with Added Sugar (Candied Fruit)
To make some dried fruit even more sweet and appealing, they are coated with added sugar or syrup before being dried.
Dried fruit with added sugar are also referred to as “candied" fruit.
To avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar, it is very important to read the ingredients and nutrition information found on the package.
Bottom line: Some fruit is coated with sugar or syrup before being dried. Always read the package when purchasing dried fruit and avoid brands that contain added sugar.
Dried Fruit May Also Contain Sulfites, and May be Contaminated With Fungi and Toxins
Some producers add preservatives called sulfites to their dried fruit.
This makes the dried fruit look more appealing, because it preserves the fruit and prevents discoloration.
This applies mainly to brightly colored fruits, such as apricots and raisins.
Some individuals may be sensitive to sulfites, and may experience stomach cramps, skin rashes and asthma attacks after ingesting them (30, 31). To avoid sulfites, choose dried fruit that is brown or grayish rather than brightly colored (32).
Bottom line: Sulfites are added to some dried fruit to preserve color, which may cause adverse effects in sensitive individuals. Dried fruit that is improperly stored and handled may also be contaminated with fungi and toxins.
Take Home Message
Same as with many other foods, dried fruit has both good and bad aspects.
Dried fruit can boost your fiber and nutrient intake and supply your body with large amounts of antioxidants.
However, it is also high in sugar and calories, and can cause problems when eaten in excess.
For this reason, dried fruit should only be eaten in small amounts, preferably along with other nutritious foods.
It should not be eaten by the handful, because it is very easy to eat too many calories from dried fruit.
Also, it is a high-carb food, making it unsuitable on a low-carb diet.
At the end of the day, dried fruit is far from perfect, but it is certainly a much healthier and more nutritious snack than chips or other processed junk foods.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.
- 'He had green eyes': Florida man will paint alligator that attacked him ›
- Florida alligator attack: A woman was attacked by a 10-foot alligator ... ›
- Weird presidential pets include alligator, tiger cub, dog named Satan ... ›
- Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
- Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›
By Bret Wilkins
In a year in which the United States has already suffered 16 climate-driven extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in economic damages, and as millions of American workers face loss of essential unemployment benefits due to congressional inaction, a report published Monday reveals the Trump administration has given fossil fuel companies as much as $15.2 billion in direct relief — and tens of billions more indirectly — through federal COVID-19 recovery programs since March.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Corporate Polluters Have Received Tens of Millions in PPP Loans ... ›
- Trump Bails Out Oil Industry, Not U.S. Families, as Coronavirus ... ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›
By Ashia Aubourg
As Thanksgiving approaches, some Indigenous organizations and activists caution against perpetuating further injustices towards Native communities. Indigenous activist Mariah Gladstone, for example, encourages eaters to celebrate the harvest time in ways that do not involve stereotypes and pilgrim stories.
- Why Face Masks Belong at Your Thanksgiving Gathering + 7 Things ... ›
- Reasons to Be Thankful — 8 Food and Farm 'Good News' Stories ... ›
- Why I'm Going to Standing Rock for Thanksgiving - EcoWatch ›
By Alex Middleton
Losing weight and reducing fat is a hard battle to fight. Thankfully, there are fat burner supplements that help you gain your target body and goal. However, how would you know which supplement is right for you?