Dried fruit is more than the raisins found in your trail mix. The health benefits of dried fruits may actually surprise you, and adding dried fruits to the diet is a simple way to get vital nutrients and power your day. Below are some of the many health benefits of adding dried fruits to the diet.
Most dried fruits are a very good source of fiber, especially soluble fibers such as pectin. These fibers help keep the digestive system working well, and provide food for the good bacteria that keep the body healthy.
This additional fiber does not simply help smooth digestion, it may also play a role in disease prevention. High-fiber diets have been linked to preventing obesity, heart disease, and even some cancers.
A study posted to the Journal Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition noted that many dried fruits contain a much higher concentration of certain nutrients than the same fresh fruits. This includes nutrients and minerals like:
The researchers also noted dried fruits may be a great way to get folate, which is a B-vitamin that many people have trouble adding to their diet.
These additional nutrients clearly add to the health benefits of dried fruit, but it may go a step further. A study posted to Nutrition Research found that people who eat more dried fruit tend to weigh less than people who don’t. They also get more of their required nutrients overall. While this does not prove that dried fruit causes weight loss, you are much less likely to reach for sweets when you have just eaten delicious dried mango.
Many of the health benefits of dried fruits come from antioxidants such as polyphenols. For instance, dates, dried fruits known mostly for their sweetness, actually contain high levels of antioxidants. Figs, plums, raisins, and papayas are other examples of dried fruit rich in healthy antioxidants.
A diet high in antioxidants may help improve blood circulation, reduce damage to the cells of the body, and lower the risk of many diseases. Dried fruits are an easy way to include these rich antioxidants in the diet.
What dried fruit loses in moisture, it makes up for in energy! Dried fruits are much higher in calories than fresh fruits, making them the perfect snack for long hikes. This is why they are often found in trail mix. Dried fruits can also provide simple fuel for the body before heading to the gym or taking a long bike ride.
Other things to consider when buying dried fruit
As we see, there are numerous health benefits of dried fruit, but there are also some important things to consider before adding them to your diet. Dried fruits are higher in calories than fresh fruit, and contain less moisture. These added calories may not be right for people who are watching their calorie intake.
Some dried fruits also contain additives like sulphur dioxide or table sugar. These additional ingredients are not as healthy as the fruits themselves, and some people choose to avoid them. Diabetics may also need to avoid the additional sugar found in a serving of dried fruit.
As with everything, the best way to eat dried fruit is as part of a nutritious, well balanced diet rich in a variety of foods.