martedì 29 novembre 2011

Dried Fruit: Health Food or Sugary Treat?

pitted_prunes.jpgDried fruit is still fruit. The main difference is that there is a very low moisture content resulting in a fruit with a longer shelf life.

Since this fruit is now shrunken to at least half the size, this makes dried fruit a more nutrient dense and higher calorie food.

Does this also mean there will be more antioxidants per serving? Is dried fruit worth eating even though it contains high amounts of sugar?

There are over 300 calories and about 65 grams of sugar in one cup of dried fruit while your average fresh fruit contains about 60 to 80 calories and about 15 grams of sugar. Dried fruit contains similar amounts of vitamin A and C, but other vitamins such as thiamine are lost when the sulfur dioxide (a preservative) is added.Dried fruit has a higher fiber content than most fresh fruits, and most are a good source of B vitamins, rich in potassium, copper, iron, and manganese. Dried fruit has similar antioxidant levels to some fresh fruits. Prunes (dried plums) have the highest antioxidant levels which are about equivalent to fresh berries. A few prunes per day will keep the doctor away! Fresh blueberries, however, still reign supreme with the highest levels.

If your goal is weight loss, I would recommend limiting your intake of dried fruit. A good serving size is about 2 tablespoons. Be careful not to just snack on dried fruit because that is when it can quickly deliver the calories. Try to only use dried fruit as a topping to your food. I like to add a sprinkle to oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or on top of a salad. Or, I like to think of it as an alternative to gummy bears!

Since dried fruit contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals, it can be a great way to get a lot of your nutrition in a few small bites. Just remember that it is not quite as filling as fresh fruits and does have a much higher calorie count. But, for some with specific diet needs, dried fruit is a great choice. If possible, look for dried fruit that doesn't have extra sugar added and that's preservative free.

Do you eat dried fruit? If so, do you add it to other foods or eat it as a snack by itself?

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