Dried fruit has been around for ages. I was first introduced to the vast varieties while traveling the magnificent country of Israel. Everywhere I went, there it was; corner markets, grocery stores and even in our host’s kitchen. Dried fruit is a staple food in the Middle East as well as other cultures. It’s an enjoyable, naturally sweet snack – easy to bring on the go due to its long shelf life. My thoughts have rocketed since my journey. Why is it so under-consumed in America? Why do we not consider it as a way to increase fruit consumption?
Here’s the facts – they may take you by surprise! Dried fruit is an incredible source of nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I’m talking potassium, magnesium, vitamin c, calcium and iron, PLUS the ability to fight diseases, like cancer, heart disease and obesity.
They are powerful, dried bundles of health, and that’s the bottom line
People may fear dried fruit because of the amount of sugar, or Fructose. Have you heard people say it is not as nutritious as fresh fruit. In some cases, this is true. For example, you may value the water, vitamin C and overall fullness the fresh fruit provides. The process of drying fruit eliminates the water and effects the total vitamin content. Like any other food, you have to be careful of sugar-additives, preservatives, etc. They are small, but this does not mean indulge.
Read the Label!
Be picky! Be sure to read the label and see what’s in it. When shopping for dried fruit, look for these key things:
- Choose a variety without the word, “sulfur”, in the ingredient list.
- It’s not awful for you, it’s just a preservative that may reduce some naturally-occurring nutrients
- Look for those with no additional sugar; it should say on the nutrition label
- Some varieties may add sugar to sweeten the already sweet fruit
- Take an interest in the serving size – as with any other snack, go easy on the load
- Stick with a handful
- Measure it out, a serving is about 1/4th of a cup
- They are more small and dense than fresh fruit, they are higher in calories and carbs when consumed in large amounts