Is Dried Fruit A Healthy Snack Option?
Over the years, many foods and food groups have been demonized by the diet industry. We’ve been told to forget fat, to cut out carbs, and to say goodbye to sugar, and yet obesity has more than tripled since 1975. The harsh reality is, no singular food group or food is responsible for the world’s obesity crisis - we’re simply eating more calories than we burn.
Where Does Dried Fruit Fit Into this?
Dried fruit is just one of the hundreds of foods that have been labeled as ‘unhealthy’ by the diet industry, and as a result, a lot of people are missing out on its benefits. Can we really compare dried fruit, complete with its antioxidants, fiber, and naturally occurring fruit sugars, to a handful of candy? We think not.
Why Has Dried Fruit Been Targeted?
Dried fruit is whole fruit that has had its water content removed, leaving behind a much smaller, energy-dense product. By removing the water from fruit, it can last a lot longer - even in temperatures where fresh fruit would quickly perish. By drying fruit out, it can be transported over long distances, can last months rather than days, and makes a much better on-the-go snack.
Dried fruit managed to avoid the attention of the diet industry for many years, that was until sugar came into the firing line. Without its water content, dried fruit is much smaller than whole fruit, and so it is easy to eat the equivalent of ten apricots, five mangoes, or fifty grapes in a sitting without the water to help fill you up. It’s important to realize that even once dried, dried fruit still contains the same amount of sugar as it did when it was whole, and therefore it is easy to consume too many calories in a single sitting, which can lead to weight gain.
Let’s Not Blame Dried Fruit For Our Inability To Portion Control
It seems clear that the real issue with dried fruit isn’t the product itself, but our ability to control the amount of it we eat. Generally speaking, 30g of dried fruit is considered to be the equivalent of an 80g portion of fresh fruit, and so if you are choosing to enjoy your fruit dried rather than in its fresh and whole form, it is important to take this into consideration and to eat smaller portions.
Enjoying Dried Fruit As A Healthy Snack
When consumed in moderation, dried fruit makes a great healthy snack. It’s high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and contains important dietary fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full for longer. Like most energy-dense foods such as nuts and seeds, the key to incorporating dried fruit into your diet is to learn the appropriate portion size and to weigh out your portions in advance so that you don’t mindlessly graze through an entire pack of delicious dried mango.
The Healthiest Dried Fruit To Eat
It’s important to realize that not all dried fruit is created equal. Some dried fruit is mixed with sugar syrup before it is dried to add extra sweetness, which, although maybe delicious, does increase the sugar content of the end product. If you’re eating candied or sweetened dried fruit, then you will need to be extra careful with your portion sizes and eat even less of it. If you’re looking for the healthiest dried fruit on the market, then it’s best to stick to unsweetened varieties that rely on the fruit’s natural sweetness rather than extra sugar or syrup.
Do You Need To Worry About Sulfites?
Sulfites are often added to dried fruits such as apricots to prevent discoloration. Most people experience no side-effects to sulfites, but some individuals who are particularly sensitive may. If you’re at all worried by sulfites, then stick to naturally dried alternatives. Here at Ayoub’s, we stock a range of sulfite-free dried fruits, such as these natural apricots.
The Bottom Line For Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a delicious and healthy snack when eaten in moderation and can be a great replacement for candy and other sweet foods when sweet cravings arise. For maximum benefit, try to stick to unsweetened varieties and, if you’re worried about sulfites, then read the ingredients carefully and stick to natural dried fruits.