Some would argue that dried fruit is a healthy snack and yes, as an alternative to chocolate, biscuits and cakes it is. But processed dried fruit can have hidden calories or additives that people may be unaware of.
Many manufacturers use fructose, found naturally in fruit, to sweeten dried fruit; for example pineapple is usually coated in sugar and banana chips tend to be deep fried, then to add to those unhealthy calories, sweetened.
So why on earth do we not just eat fresh fruit? Seriously, why?
With the ability to purchase fresh fruit all year round thanks to import from all over the world, eating fresh fruit has never been easier.
Don’t get me wrong I love my dehydrator; there is something satisfying about seeing the fruit shrink to a wrinkled version of its former self; like prune fingers when you get out the bath. But it does take time and like everyone else I am a busy person and don’t always get around to it.
So, in these instances do I buy processed dried fruit?
No! I don’t.
I’m sure you are wondering why that’s the case. Well, forgetting the expense of purchasing dried fruit over fresh, you also have to consider the nutritional benefits. Although it has been argued that the nutritional value between dried and fresh fruit is similar, this is not the case for all fruits.
The heat required for dehydration can cause a reduction in many nutrients including vitamin C.
Also what you have to consider is that drying out the fruit reduces the water content, so can be less filling than eating fresh fruit. For example, a cup full of fresh cherries becomes a quarter cup of fresh cherries when dehydrated. The portion may look smaller, but it has a similar number of calories to the full cup. Therefore you really have to be careful about the amount you are consuming.
But my main concern when purchasing dried fruit is the process; organic dried fruit should not have additives or preservatives, but if it’s not organic, processed dried fruit may contain sulphites that are used to retain colour, so you have to be careful. Always read the packaging. Never mind the issues about what you could be putting into your body, there have been cases when the sulphur dioxide used has caused skin rashes and asthma-like reactions.
Just the thought of that makes my skin crawl.
So why would you choose this over fresh? I ask exasperated.
There is a lot of waffle out there about dried fruit being an optimal choice because it is ‘portable’, as if fresh fruit is so big that carrying it around would be a gargantuan task. You never hear people say, ‘I’m afraid I can’t come to the picnic because I only have fresh fruit and I can’t get the bananas in my picnic basket.’ Or ‘I would come for a walk with you, but while packing my bag an apple rolled out of the fruit basket and pinned me to the floor.’
Come on! Yes fresh fruit may be heavier to cart around, filling up a back pack with unnecessary weight while out on a leisurely stroll. But I say: surely this extra weight means you are losing more calories as you walk about, therefore fresh fruit has even more health benefits that we ever realised.
Of course there are advantages to dried fruit, I’m not saying there aren’t; it doesn’t bruise and it lasts longer but, considering the price, the smaller looking portion sizes and the fact that they are less filling I can’t understand why buying packets of dried apricots is advantageous to buying a punnet of fresh.
Please don’t think I am against dried fruit. I’m not. I am completely for eating fruit; dried or fresh, as long as it’s the healthy option. If you are choosing dried fruit as a healthy alternative to a piece of cake I am behind you 100%. If you have a sweet tooth and need to satisfy a sugar craving – go right ahead. But where possible, look for the ‘no added sugar’ signs.
And here’s a tip – do your research.
Some fruits are considered more nutritious dried. Apricots are an excellent source of fibre, full of vitamins A and C and iron. Figs are another; they don’t lose their nutritional value when dried. Let’s also not forget the raisin; they are cholesterol and fat free.
Now I couldn’t broach this subject without a look at the good ole prune. Unlike many other dried fruits prunes contain high fibre, potassium and iron content as well as being an excellent source of nutrition.
So if you are going to reach for those dried fruit packets, pick one of these; just make sure it’s organic.Google+