Dried fruit is a common ingredient in trail mix, granola bars, and other snacks. It’s also popular as a standalone snack.
Raisins, apricots, dates, prunes, and figs are some of the most common types of dried fruit. Drying fruit is a way to preserve it for long periods. It also makes it easy to bring along on long trips where refrigeration is unavailable.
Dried fruit is often thought of as a healthy alternative to candy or other junk food snacks. But is it really?
Is Dried Fruit Nutritious?
When fruit is dried, only the water is removed. This leaves all the other nutrients intact. This means that dried fruit is a concentrated source of all the same vitamins, minerals, and fiber you find in the whole fruit.
Raisins, for example, are a good source of iron and potassium.
Prunes are high in beta-carotene and vitamin K.
Dried apricots are a great source of vitamin A and iron.
Dates are good for vitamin B6 and magnesium.
All of them are also rich in antioxidants and other health-promoting nutritional compounds. This makes them a much healthier option for a tasty snack than cookies, candy, or other popular treats, which tend to have very little nutrition.
Can Dried Fruit Help With Weight Loss?
People who regularly eat dried fruit tend to be healthier and less obese than people who don’t.
This may be because of all the healthy fibers and nutrients in dried fruits. It could also be because dried fruits often replace less nutritious and more fattening junk foods.
However, dried fruits tend to contain high amounts of natural sugars—because fruit typically contains higher amounts of fructose and glucose. When the fruit is dried, more sugar is packed into a smaller volume. Still, it is probably much safer and healthier than industrially manufactured snacks with added sugars.
Dried fruit, without its water, may also mean you might not feel as full from it. For example, if you think of eating a big handful of grapes, how much space would that take up in your stomach? Compare that to the same number of raisins (dried grapes), which would now be a much smaller volume—you might feel hungrier for more. This might potentially lead to overeating more calories. But again, it will probably not be as fattening as filling up on cookies and chips.
What About Candied Dried Fruit?
Candied fruit is a different story. Candied dried fruit is made by coating dried fruit with added sugars, syrup, or other sweeteners. This adds a lot of extra calories and sugar to an already concentrated source of natural sugars.
These products may also contain other preservatives, unhealthy oils, and other unhealthy ingredients.
Instead, look for dried fruit that doesn’t have anything added to it. Read the package carefully to see if any other ingredients are listed on the nutritional label.
If you don’t like one particular kind of dried fruit, skip the sugary candied versions and just try a different type of fruit.