Find out what the main health benefits of dried fruits are!
One of the earliest methods of preservation is drying. Drying is done by removing the majority of water content from foods naturally (e.g. sun drying) or by using specialized dryers.
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Even in the past, preserving fruits through drying was very popular. This is because fruits are naturally occurring in the environment and are also known to be nutritious.
Fruits can be dried whole or in slices. Dried fruit can be consumed on its own or by incorporating it in other foods. It is also used in confectionery, candies, sauces, marinades and more. Some of the most common dried fruits include raisins, prunes, figs, apricots, peaches and many more.
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It’s not surprising that the practice of dying fruit and dried fruit, itself is becoming popular. After all, it tastes good, has a long shelf-life, portability and nutritive value.
Health Benefits of Dried Fruits
Besides being a practical food choice, there are also many health benefits in consuming dried fruits. Presently, there is an increasing number of studies conducted concerning the benefits of dried fruits.
Rich in vitamins and antioxidants
Some dried fruits retain some of the nutritional value of their fresh counterparts. The nutritional content, however, depends on their counterpart and the drying method used. As a matter of fact, a comparative study in 2005 showed that dried fruits have higher quality antioxidants (e.g. in figs and prunes) than fresh fruits.
The nutrients usually found in dried fruits are fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, proteins, phosphorus, potassium, folate, and vitamins A, B, and E.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the high fiber content in dried fruits prevents obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
The prebiotic fiber compounds also feed healthy bacteria for better digestive health. Dried fruits have antioxidants, like polyphenol, that enhance blood circulation, improve digestion, reduce oxidative damage and lower the risks of diseases.
Also, an issue of the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity showed that polyphenol in dried fruits helps reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer and degenerative diseases of the brain. As the water is removed in dried fruits, the nutrients become denser.
Prevents cardiovascular problems
High content of potassium removes excess fluid and sodium which improves cardiovascular health and aid in developing muscles. The iron enhances hemoglobin levels and blood circulation.
Good for your skin and bones
The polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamins A and E in dried fruits are good for the skin. They act against the aging of the skin and body. The magnesium works with calcium to enhance muscles and bones.
Improves brain function
In addition, the omega 3 fatty acids in dried fruits are known as cerebrum nourishment and improve brain function.
Low fat, energy-boosting
Another health benefit of dried fruits is that it contains little to no fat and a considerable amount of calories, which means they make a great source of energy for athletes. Because they are easy to bring anywhere, those who like working out would benefit from dried fruits.
There is also no known case of food-borne disease related to dried fruits.
The Most Popular Dried Fruits And What They Can Do For You
Raisins or dried grapes
As studied by the Journal of Food Science, raisins are known to have low to medium glycemic index value and low insulin index. This means that raisins can help in lowering blood pressure, enhance blood sugar control, and reduce inflammatory markers and blood cholesterol, as also shown in the. All of which is associated with a reduced risk of generating type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Prunes or dried plums
Prunes or dried plums, on the other hand, are known to be natural laxatives and helps in increasing immunity against diseases. They are packed with fiber, potassium, vitamin A (beta-carotene) and vitamin K. They are also high on fiber and sorbitol that have natural laxative effects. Thus, relieve constipation and improve stool frequency and consistency. Antioxidants in prunes can also limit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that can help lower the risks of heart disease and cancer. Similarly, boron in prunes can aid in preventing osteoporosis. Prunes are also very filling and don’t increase blood sugar levels.
On the contrary, high magnesium levels of cashews help against hypertension, muscle fits, headache migraines, pressure, soreness, and exhaustion. Cashews also improve skin condition and are used in some skincare and cosmetic products.
Almonds and walnuts
Almonds add gloss and improve dull hair. Also, walnuts are known to have omega-3 that is good for memorization and mental health.
Some Reminders When Consuming Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is considered to be a healthy snack, but some have also said that it is nothing more than candy. This is due to the fact that some fruits are infused with sweetener prior to drying. Also, most products sold as dried fruit are usually candied fruit like papaya and mangoes. Despite the many benefits of dried fruits, there also a few disadvantages.
Some dried fruits, however, have a higher sugar content and calorically dense. This can be used by people in gaining weight naturally. The said sugar is naturally occurring (i.e. fructose) which isn’t bad. Although, it can be harmful if consumed in high amounts and to those who are diabetic.
Moreover, there are dried fruit varieties which are artificially sweetened increasing sugar levels. This also increases the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant is also lowered during the drying process. Furthermore, preservatives like sulphites in some dried fruits trigger asthma and allergies.
Dried fruits are not perfect, there are both advantages and disadvantages in consuming it. However, it is certainly healthier and more nutritious than junk foods and other snacks. Controlling the portion of intake of dried fruits to avoid adverse effects on the health and weight. In addition, the best way of consuming dried fruits is in its natural and organic form. If you have allergies and risks of diabetes, however, avoid eating industrially processed dried fruits. Since this contains artificial ingredients.
Dried fruits are sweet, handy snacks with long shelf-lives. The health benefits of dried fruits are having a high nutritive value and lower fat content. Organic dried fruits improve overall human health. Although, excess consumption and eating artificially processed dried foods are discouraged.