Is Dried Fruit a Healthy Snack?

In your search for healthy, convenient snacks, you’ve probably come across dried fruit as a suggestion on more than one list or website. Dried fruit is certainly delicious, but is it really a healthy snack? The answer is complex.

It’s true that dried fruits such as raisins, currants, and cranberries pack a big nutritional punch. That’s because as water is removed, the fibre and nutrients become more concentrated. That makes dried fruit a very good source of antioxidants, fibre, and many nutrients you need to stay healthy, such as folate. Dried fruit can be a part of your healthy diet even if you’re trying to lose weight, and it’s clearly a healthier choice than candy or sweets. But there’s more to the equation.

The problem is dried fruit also contains a large amount of concentrated sugar. This can be a good thing for athletes who need quick fuel, but for dieters, it can add up to too many calories. For example, raisins have about five times the number of calories found in the same volume of grapes. This can be an issue for people trying to cut back – or for people with diabetes, who are trying to distribute their carbohydrates evenly throughout the day.

For most people, dried fruit can be a great tool for quick energy if you keep a close eye on portion size and frequency. In most cases, you’ll be more satisfied with whole fresh fruit such as grapes, cantaloupe, or plums, and for far fewer calories. In fact, for the same number of carbohydrates, you can have two tablespoons of raisins or half a cantaloupe.

As with so many other things when it comes to eating a healthy diet, moderation is key. If you need a portable snack that’s nutritious and convenient, a small amount of dried fruit can fit the bill nicely. Just keep in mind the amount of sugar you’re taking in and treat these foods as occasional treats in small amounts. Think of dried fruit as a substitution for unhealthy splurges – not a substitute for fresh fruit – and it won’t disrupt your health goals.

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