We all know that it’s important to incorporate more fruit into our diet, and a great way to do that is by eating dried fruits. Nutrition scientists say that it is a viable replacement for fresh fruit and, in some ways, is even better for us than the fresh variety.
“Dried fruit is simply dehydrated fruit,” registered dietician Jenna Werner explains. “When the water is removed from the fruit, you are left with a smaller, denser version of the original. Dehydrated fruit retain many of its nutrient benefits and last longer than fresh fruit.”
A study performed by Louise Bennett, a researcher at Monash University in Australia, found that there were three to five times more micronutrients in dehydrated apricots and prunes than there were in the fresh versions.
“Comparisons of raisins and grapes show that drying concentrates the content of polyphenols and, thus, antioxidant activity,” writes nutrition scientist Michele Jeanne Sadler in her conference paper Dried Fruit and Public Health – What Does the Evidence Tell Us?.
Sadler and five of her colleagues reviewed several studies to determine the benefits of incorporating dried fruits into the general public’s diet. They concluded that these scrumptious snacks can be beneficial for gut health.
“Dried fruits are high in a range of dietary fibers and other bioactive compounds with prebiotic effects (e.g. polyphenols),” they write.
Sadler and her colleagues also suggested that dried fruit are a good means of controlling appetite. Many people snack throughout the day, they write, often opting for nutritionally empty snacks, and replacing those unsatisfying foods with dried fruits will leave snackers feeling more full in between meals.
In addition to dried fruits being full of fiber and antioxidants, they are also exceedingly more convenient than buying fresh fruit. The process of dehydrating fruit extends the fruit’s shelf life, thus lessening the worry about expiration and spoilage. When stored correctly — in a cool, dry, dark place — dried fruit can last anywhere from four months to one year, according to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Of course, there is a drawback to eating dried fruit. All fresh fruit has natural sugars, but dried fruit may contain added sugar if candied or sweetened, making those versions less of a substitute for fresh fruit and more of a chewy treat.
Here are 12 dried fruits you can find in Harry & David products along with their health benefits.