In general, fruit is part of a healthful eating pattern associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. It provides important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. However there is a constant fear-surrounding intake of dried fruits due to their high sweetness. Traditional dried fruits (those that don’t contain added sugars and are dried with minimal processing) such as raisins, prunes, dates, and figs, have similar nutrient profiles to their whole counterparts and, as a result, provide many of the same benefits. They’re also high in fiber and phytochemicals, since both of these nutrients are concentrated in dried fruits. This combination of fiber and phytonutrients appears to be responsible for many of the health benefits of consuming dried fruit, which include lower risk of CVD related to dried fruit’s blood pressure-lowering effects, lower postprandial glycemic response, and possible improvement of lipid profiles. Dried fruits also may contribute to colon health due to their prebiotic fiber compounds, which serve as fuel for healthy bacteria to maintain digestive health
Dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, apricots, and figs, has several applications that can be beneficial to various patients. It can be a valuable addition to the diets of those who struggle to get their daily fruit servings or enough nutrients, especially children or older adults. It’s shelf stable and a palatable, convenient snack for those on the go in order to help individuals meet their daily nutrient needs. Yet, despite its nutrient profile and numerous health benefits, dried fruit is significantly under consumed as a source of nutrition.
Dried fruit is dehydrated into a concentrated form of whole fruit, so the portion size is much smaller than a serving of fresh fruit (typically half the size of fresh fruit). One-quarter cup or about 40 g is a standard serving for most dried fruit. A small amount is considered nutrient dense, providing a significant amount of dietary fiber and potassium. Many also contain magnesium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. While individual nutrient content varies by fruit, dried fruit generally contains all of the vitamins and minerals the original fresh fruit provides. A couple of exceptions include vitamin C and thiamin, which can be destroyed by heat. One of the greatest nutritional benefits of dried fruits is the level of phytochemicals they contain. Phenolic compounds make up the largest percentage of phytochemicals in the diet, and dried fruit is an excellent source of these compounds that are responsible for much of the antioxidant activity in fruits and vegetables. Evidence also suggest that dried unsweetened plums could be beneficial to those at risk of osteoporosis or those who already have it. Similarly cranberries may help clients with recurrent UTIs who can’t drink cranberry juice because of its impact on blood sugar. However dried fruit is nutrient dense, but it’s also calorically dense, so portion control is important.
The most studied of all the traditional dried fruits are raisins. Raisin consumption has been shown to reduce postprandial and fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and systolic blood pressure in men and women compared with other commercially available processed snacks, such as cheese-flavored crackers or cream crackers, most likely due to raisins’ high fiber content. Studies also have shown raisins to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure and improving total and LDL cholesterol levels, as well as oxidized LDL.
Dried fruit also can be a nutrient-dense replacement for sugar, especially in baked goods, and can add flavor and texture to meals. Raisins can be added to oatmeal or cranberries in salads for some additional sweetness Recommending dried fruit for snacks or desserts are a great idea for clients with a sweet tooth. Nutrient-dense fruits can satisfy sweet cravings and may replace other sugary snacks that offer little nutritional value and may cause a rapid increase in blood sugar.
However It’s important to emphasize choosing unsweetened varieties for maximum benefit.
Some products sold as dried fruit, such as papayas and pineapples, may not be dried fruit at all but rather candied fruit. If the package says “crystallized,” then it’s candied fruit.
Conclusion: Unsweetened dried fruits contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals and can be consumed in portion control sizes to satisfy sweet food cravings