When everyone is trying to eat better and find healthy alternatives to junk food, it is often hard to find good snacks that won’t bust your calorie bank or that aren’t all together bad for you. We all know to stay away from the cakes, cookies and chips. Even ice cream can get us in trouble if we are trying to stay healthy. Visit any grocery store and you will find literally hundreds of choices when it comes to snacks, and many of them will be sporting packaging touting the many health benefits of said snack, but what about dried fruit: food for you or just an unhealthy snack? Dried fruit is easy to find, comes in convenient packaging and will keep well on long trips or adventures; however, knowing the facts about dried fruit can help you make an informed decision about whether this convenient snack food is right for you.
Let us first look at the disadvantages of dried fruits. Compared to their full size counterparts, the serving size of dried fruits is relatively small. That is because every bit of water has been removed from the fruit which concentrates both its size and sugar content. Dried fruits are very dense in sugar, and when it is a candied dried fruit there is even more sugar to worry about.
Another disadvantage is that some dried fruits may contain sulfites that were used in the drying process. If you are sensitive or allergic to sulfides, dried fruits may not be the best choice for you when it comes to choosing a snack. Additionally, if you do like dried fruits, make sure you store them correctly and according to package directions. While dried fruits generally have a long shelf life, if they are not properly stored they can develop fungi and toxins that could be dangerous.
On the flip side, there are many advantages to enjoying dried fruits as a snack. Dried fruits include foods like raisins, prunes, apricots, apples, pineapple and other popular fruits. These dried fruits are high in fiber and antioxidants. These can actually help you with digestive problems and prevent some common diet related healthy issue such as hypertension and diabetes.
For example, raisins have a low insulin index and are high in fiber, potassium and plant compounds. Prunes are known to be a natural laxative and can help with digestive issues and other health problems. While dried fruit can be high in sugar, it is natural sugars unless sugar has been added before the drying process. These dried fruits will be called candied fruit.
Essentially, you have to make the decision as to whether you will allow dried fruits as a snack food for yourself and your family; however, if you know the advantages and disadvantages, you can make an informed decision. The most important thing to remember is that dried fruits are very compacted and dense, so eating them in the suggested serving size is important to limit the amount of sugar and calories you are getting while enjoying the health benefits as well.