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Dried fruits are very popular for a multitude of reasons! Eating fruit is associated with improved health and provides many of the essential minerals, vitamins, phyto-nutrients and fiber that you need every day. Dried fruit doesn't spoil as quickly and is an easy snack to pack, especially for activities like hiking! But keep in mind, dried fruits are higher in calories because they are more concentrated once the water has been removed. Weight for weight, fresh fruit will have few calories than its dehydrated version. One hundred grams of fresh plums contain only 46 calories, whereas 100 grams of prunes (dried plums) have 240 calories. It is also important to note that some vitamins are lost during the drying process. For the same fresh plums, you are eating 16% of your daily needs for vitamin C, but when dried, you are getting only 1%. It is also important to note that a single serving of fresh fruit is 1 cup, but when fruit has been dehydrated, a single serving is only one half of a cup. When you are selecting different dried fruits, be sure to read the packaging label. Look not only at the appropriate portion size, but also what else has been added to the dried fruit. Often dried fruits have additional sugar added to enhance the flavor and draw the water from the microbial cells, thereby protecting it from spoilage. Look for labels that say "no sugar added," or the dried fruit might be a treat rather than a healthy snack. Some dried fruits will be hard to find without added sugar, especially cranberries, pineapple, and bananas. Another commonly added ingredient is sulfur dioxide, which works to preserve the fruit and prevent discoloration.
Health Effects of Dried Fruits
Dried fruit is highly nutritious. One piece of dried fruit contains about the same amount of nutrients as the fresh fruit, but condensed in a much smaller package. By weight, dried fruit contains up to 3.5 times the fiber, vitamins and minerals of fresh fruit. Therefore, one serving can provide a large percentage of the daily recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, such as folate. However, there are some exceptions. For example, the vitamin C content is significantly reduced when the fruit is dried. Dried fruit generally contains a lot of fiber and is a great source of antioxidants, especially polyphenols. Polyphenol antioxidants are associated with health benefits such as improved blood flow, better digestive health, decreased oxidative damage and reduced risk of many diseases. Dried fruit is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also high in phenolic antioxidants, which have numerous health benefits. Several studies have shown that people who eat dried fruit tend to weigh less and ingest more nutrients, compared to individuals not eating dried fruit. However, these studies were observational in nature, so they can not prove that the dried fruit caused the improvements. Dried fruit is also a good source of many plant compounds, including powerful antioxidants. Bottom line: Eating dried fruit has been linked to an increased intake of nutrients and a reduced risk of obesity.
What are Nuts?
A nut is a simple dry fruit with one or two seeds in which the ovary wall becomes very hard (stony or woody) at maturity, and where the seed remains attached or fused with the ovary wall, examples include almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts and pistachio nuts. The term ‘nut’ is applied to many seeds that are not botanically true nuts. These may include cape seed, caraway, chia, flaxseed, linseed, passion fruit, poppy seed, pepita or pumpkin seed, sesame seed and sunflower seed.
Health Effects of Nuts
Like other plant foods, nuts provide a range of nutrients, including large quantities of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (49–74% total fat), and moderate amounts of protein (9–20%).
Nuts are also a good source of dietary fibre and provide a wide range of essential nutrients, including several B group vitamins (including folate), vitamin E, minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium, antioxidant minerals (selenium, manganese and copper), plus other phytochemicals such as antioxidant compounds (flavonoids and resveratrol) and plant sterols.
The 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines include nuts in the same food group as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and legumes, due to their protein content. A daily serving of 30g is recommended, but an additional 10g of nuts a day can be used in place of other healthy fat foods as well.
Nuts are naturally low in sodium, contain potassium and most contain some carbohydrate in the form of natural sugars. Chestnuts are different they are rich in low glycemic index carbohydrates and low in fat making them more like a grain than a tree nut.
There are little differences in the nutrient content of raw and roasted nuts. Nuts can be oil or dry roasted, but nuts are so dense they are unable to absorb much oil (approximately 2-5% of the oil they are cooked in). Roasting does reduce the water content of nuts, concentrating the nutrients, but also reduces the concentration of several B group vitamins as they are not heat stable. While it is possible to buy unsalted, dry roasted nuts. Many oil roasted nut varieties are salted and therefore have a higher sodium content than raw nuts. If you like the taste of roasted nuts, but want to reduce your salt intake, choose unsalted roasted nuts and leave the salted ones for special occasions only.
Health Chart for Dried Fruits & Nuts
Main body systems
Circulatory – Apricot Almond Brazil Cashew Hazelnut Pumpkin Sunflower Walnut
Digestive – Apricot Almond Brazil Cashew Hazelnut Pumpkin Sunflower Tomato