Dried Fruits: Are They Good?
More and more people choose dehydrated fruits as natural food between meals. The logic is based on the fact that if a fresh fruit has good nutritional properties, the dry fruit also. However, this is not entirely true. Some dried fruits have a significantly higher calorie count and may contain sugar as first on the ingredient list.
When dehydrated fruits do not contain added fructose syrups, sucrose, or other simple carbohydrates (3), they are equivalent to fresh fruits in nutritional properties. However, dehydrated fruits with high sugar content should be classified as unhealthy foods.
Dried fruits are good as long as they are not made with added sugar in their composition. This depends on each manufacturer. Fruits that have been naturally dried are considered food with fiber, so they can help improve slow transit and speed up the digestion process.
Dehydrated fruit calories
When you dehydrate a fruit, it loses about 75% of its original weight; most of it is water. For this reason, in terms of calories, 25g of dehydrated fruit is equivalent to 90-120g of fresh fruit. A dry fruit mix contains approximately 420 Kcal per 100 g of product.
In the case of dehydrated bananas, the difference in calories is even more significant. Since they are usually made with vegetable oil (sunflower oil), they are then treated with phenols to preserve the color. It is not best to include these types of dehydrated fruits in the diet, and they do not fall into the category of good ones.
Does dehydrated fruit make you fat?
Weight gain is achieved when there is a positive calorie balance. A handful of dried fruit that makes you fatter is a mistake. However, if you eat dehydrated fruit every day and in large quantities, you will gain weight.
Combining dried fruits with nuts is one way to eat a healthy snack and thus avoid bakery products and cookies between meals.
Dried fruit with added sugar is the one to avoid. The most common are kiwi, mango, blueberries, and banana chips. Grapes, dates, plums, apples, and pears do not need added sugar to preserve them.
Vitamins and minerals in dried fruits
Traditionally, dehydrated fruits are made by drying in the sun, and this is the best to preserve vitamins. However, some manufacturers resort to faster and more effective procedures. Several vitamins, such as those of group B, are lost in this process, and practically all of the vitamin C is present (1).
As for the minerals, these are always conserved. Calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus are the minerals that stand out in a traditional dried fruit mix. These can vary depending on the type of fruit that is used. However, it can be said that dehydrated fruits are considered good sources of microminerals.
Chemical additives in dried fruits
Food safety standards in most countries require dehydrated fruits to be chemically treated. This process guarantees the elimination of bacteria and the extension of the product’s useful life. Raisins and other fruits sold in conventional supermarkets use sulfur dioxide (E220) to extend their shelf life.
As well as the use of colorants such as titanium dioxide or E171 to give them a brighter and clearer color (1). Remember that the natural color of blond raisins, apricots, and peaches is closer to mustard, neither golden nor yellow. With new technologies, some growers have been able to reduce the addition of chemicals. Any nutritionist will agree that it is always better if they are not present.
Dried fruit ingredients
The shorter the ingredient list for dried fruit, the better. The poorest quality dehydrated fruit is the one with sugar as the first ingredient.
In economic terms, more sugar, lower price. As well as, the costs of storage, packaging, and transportation are reduced. Suppose we think about it in terms of health; the less sugar and preservatives, the better.
Fresh vs. dehydrated fruits vs. juices
If we compare them with industrial juices, dehydrated fruits are considered more nutritious and have higher fiber, resulting in fewer calories and greater satiety.
As for natural juices, dehydrated fruits have fewer vitamins since a good part is lost in the production process. Fresh fruits preserve both vitamins and the amount of fiber, which is why they are considered the foods with the best nutritional value.
Where to buy dried fruit?
Dried fruits can be purchased in most supermarkets, health food stores, and online stores. In any case, we recommend buying organic dried fruits.
Organic foods cannot include any synthetic product in their manufacture or production. Some bodies like FAO consider it beneficial in terms of ecology and sustainability. (4)
- Dried fruits have much water removed to extend their shelf life.
- Sugar and oils are added in high amounts to some dehydrated fruits. This type is the one to be avoided.
- Exotic fruits such as pineapple, kiwi, and mango tend to have higher sugar content.
- Apricots, apples, and blond raisins are the best-dried fruit option.
- Dried fruits are good if they don’t contain sugar at the top of their ingredient list.
- Regarding calories, they provide about 420 Kcal per 100 g, so 30-40 g per day is enough.