Tell me, do you pick out those fruity bits in trail mix concerned over calories or don’t give it a second thought and dig around for them as they are your favorite part of the ensemble? Dried fruit does offer access to vitamins, minerals and fiber, after all, and consuming it, studies show, is associated with higher nutrient intake and less obesity. So why all the push back on dried fruit? Why such a bad rap?
Despite the calorie concerns, I say, you really can keep dried fruit around and dig in. Look below for a few reasons why you should as well as a simple little strategy to keep dried fruit in your diet and how to do it right.
WHY DRIED FRUIT BELONGS IN YOUR PANTRY
Here are a few reasons why dried fruit can be a good thing to take up space in your pantry:
1. It’s fresh fruit – just without the water.
Fruit is a healthy choice and if you choose your dried fruits wisely (see tips below), dried fruit enjoys the very benefits of fresh – just with the water removed. In fact, dehydration in some cases can cause some nutrients in the fruit to become even more concentrated and nutritious, says this study.
The high fiber in some dried fruits is effective in treating some digestive issues – especially prunes and dried figs.3. Some nutrients are very high.
Prunes, dried apricots, and raisins contain a large amount of iron.
4. Reach for bright colors to pump up your immunity. The yellow and orange dried fruits like pineapple, apricots and papaya are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which strengthen the immune system and are good for the skin and hair.
5. It’s great for the backpack.
Dried fruit doesn’t spoil as quickly and is an easy snack to pack, especially for activities like hiking where access to food is sometimes difficult.
But, pay attention to this . . .
6. Less water makes more calories and sugar.
The naysayers are right in that dried fruits are higher in calories and sugar content because they are more concentrated once the water has been removed. Weight for weight, fresh fruit will have fewer calories than its dehydrated version.
IMPORTANT TIPS TO EATING DRIED FRUIT AS A HEALTHY CHOICE
Just remember these three little things when it comes to eating and cooking with dried fruit to avoid the pitfalls of eating it and to keep it a healthy choice for you and your family:
1. Keep portion size small. A single serving of fresh fruit is generally 1 cup, but when fruit has been dehydrated, a single serving is cut in half – or a half a cup.
2. Choose organic. For the very reasons that you choose organic fresh fruit, it applies to dried fruit as well. The pesticides used may be harmful to your health.
3. Look for a very short ingredient list. Yup! Just fruit – nothing else. Ensure there are no added sugars (especially often with cherries and cranberries) as well as no sulfur dioxide which can cause asthma symptoms or sulfite allergies and sensitivities but is used to retain the color of some fruits.
And, two extra little suggestions . . .
4. Make it a convenience thing. Eat fruit fresh when you can, pack dried fruit when spoilage or access to fresh is not possible.
5. Do it yourself. If you want to make your own dried fruit, here are the top 10 dehydrators you may want to consider to get you started.
Do you snack on dried fruit? Have a favorite brand or do you make your own?