Nutrition / Food

Is Dried Fruit Actually Healthy or Best Avoided?

Learn if dried fruit is a healthy snack to chew on, or if it’s just added sugar into your diet.

Dried fruit has come a long way since raisins. All kinds of variations continue to fill grocery store shelves. Unfortunately, these wrinkly versions of our favorite fruits often get mixed reviews. On the bright side, it’s an easy, healthy snack.

On the other hand, it could just be satisfying a serious sugar craving. Aaptiv talked to expert nutritionists and dietitians on the pros and cons of dried fruit, and learned why this fad may be something you want to keep out of your grocery cart.

The Pros

Our mind is in the right place. When we go grocery shopping, it’s important to fill our carts with colorful and delicious fruits and veggies. By placing dried fruits in our baskets, we’re aware of the nutrients we need to fuel our bodies with. We’re looking for an alternative, easy way to do so. As dried fruit can be considered a snack food, it’s a good alternative to the other processed food that are on the shelves, like chips and cookies. It is a low-sodium and a low-fat snack option with no cholesterol, according to registered dietitian, Becky Kerkenbush. It’s important to be aware of the brand you purchase, too. Always make sure it comes free of any extra added sugar.

The Cons

The biggest con when it comes to dried fruit is the excessive amounts of sugar. Nutritional chef and wellness consular, Melissa Eboli, compares the sugar content of dried fruit to fresh fruit. According to Eboli, fresh fruit is also loaded with natural sugars. When eaten in excess, it’s also not healthy for our consumption. The difference is, it’s easier to overeat dried fruit given its size. It also lacks many of the vitamins and minerals and the fiber found in fresh fruit. “It’s OK to have one to two servings of real, fresh fruit a day. I would stick to the same rule of thumb when it comes to dried fruit.”

According to Mellisa, another downside of dried fruit is, a lot of dried fruit contains sulfates. Sulfates keep the fruit from turning bad, which in return adds a layer of food preservatives to our diet. For people who are sensitive to sulfites, consumption can cause breathing difficulties, hives, and other allergy-like related symptoms. So, if you know you’re sensitive to sulfites, you should probably avoid dried fruit.

Not all dried fruits are created equal.

While dried fruit should be eaten in proper serving sizes, there are several fruits that, when dried, have additional health benefits. Some examples of these are dates, raisins, and prunes. Both dates and raisins are high in fiber, iron, and minerals. Prunes can help support good digestive and bone health.

The Alternatives

Considering some of the negative side effects that come with eating dried fruit, there are other options to consider when looking for an easy, healthy snack. The first is sticking to eating fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is loaded with rich nutrition that gets depleted when dried out. Another is frozen fruit—just make sure you’re choosing a brand that doesn’t add extra sugar. Frozen fruit is a great snack to nibble on while around the house. It can also be tossed into a blender for makeshift ice cream or added with other ingredients to make a shake (which are a great way to fuel up after an Aaptiv workout by the way). And finally, try making your own dried fruit at home. While you are still losing some nutrients from your fresh fruit, it’s a safe way to know that no additional sugar or preservatives are being added, as well as keeping you accountable for your serving sizes.

Overall, there are both positive and negatives aspects when it comes to eating dried fruit. Moderation is, of course, key. Fresh fruit will always reign supreme, but a bit of dried fruit here and there won’t do too much damage to your diet.

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