Archaeologists have traced the use of Dried Fruits back thousands of years BC to ancient Egypt where they were prized for their sweetness and the long shelf life allowed them to be used for bartering (1)
Raisins, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, mangoes, pineapples, apples and bananas are some of the most popular dried fruits today, used as convenient snacks by many people who consider all fruits are healthy.
However, some fruits are high in calories to start with, and when dried, you can consume a lot more calories per serving than with fresh fruit.
Naturally High in Sugar and calories
The sugar content (grams of sugar per 100 gram) of various fruits are shown in the chart at left, along with table sugar, some candy bars, and some dried fruits (2).
You can see that dates are VERY high in sugar (64), which is higher than the candy bars and at the lower end of the syrups and sugars.
Most fruits on this chart are around 10-18.
Dried Fruits are 40-73 – about 4x as much sugar per volume as whole fruits.
This is because the weight of a piece of fruit is 4x less with the water removed.
Some of these fruits have more sugars that are glucose, which is better for you than fructose or sucrose.
With the water removed, it is very easy to eat a lot more fruit with huge amounts of calories and sugars, leading to weight gain – All from something you might think of as healthy!
Dried Fruit often has Sugar added
There are many processing methods for drying fruits, such as drum dry, air dry, spray dry, freeze dry (4).
Sun dried fruits can be the most healthy, with no sugar added in the drying process.
With many of the other methods fruits have sugar, high fructose corn syrup or other fruit juices added in a process called infusing (5).
“Candied” Fruits have sugar or high fructose corn syrups applied after drying to make them sweeter.
It is important to read the labels carefully to make sure you are getting too much sugar along with the fruit.
Packed With Vitamins, Fiber and Antioxidants
With all the water removed, by weight dried fruit has nearly 4 times as much vitamins, fiber, and minerals as the whole fruit.
So you can easily get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals (8)
Of course, this is just a generalization as there is a great variety in how different fruits are dried (9).
Also, some vitamins, such as Vitamin C are greatly diminished in most dried fruits (10).
Dried fruit is super high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Just be sure to take into account all the sugar that comes along with many dried fruits
Weight Loss with Dried FruitThere are several studies that show a positive correlation between consumption of dried fruits and increased weight loss ( 12, 13).
These studies were actually surveys of individuals self reported diet habits and weight loss, so are interesting but not the gold standard of proof researchers prefer to see (14).
There are no controlled double blind research studies that show a relation between dried fruit consumption as a nutrition source and weight loss.
Consumption of dried fruits MAY be beneficial for weight loss, depending on the fruits sugar content and other nutritional profile, but there currently is no verified research.
Nutritional profile and health benefits of Raisins
Since Raisins are the most popular dried fruit consumed in North America, we take a peek at its nutritional benefits
They are fairly high in sugar content (65 on the chart above), but half of that is glucose which is much better for weight control than fructose (18)
Raisins are high in fiber, potassium and other plant compounds. Eating raisins may improve blood sugar control, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol, as well as decrease inflammation.
Dried Fruit May Also Contain Sulfites
Our big supermarket chain supply systems demand longer shelf life and result in adding sulfites to help preserve dried fruits.
This makes the fruits look more appealing and marketable.
However some people are allergic to sulfites without even knowing it, so can have adverse reactions when consuming larger quanties of dried fruits (23).
Dried Fruits often contain added sulfites which may bother certain individuals immune system.
Final Thoughts: Good Nutrition if you watch the Sugar content
Some dried fruits are high in sugar content so should only be eaten sparingly.
Dried fruits are very high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So if the high sugar and carb counts aren’t a problem for you, they make a great snack food.