Healthy advice

from Ipokratis Papadimitrakos

DRIED FRUITS – GOOD OR BAD

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Dried fruits are very handy for a quick snack or for when we wantsomething sweet. Information about them is however, confusing and sometimes contradictory. Some people say they are a healthy, filling food, while some say they are the same as eating junk food. We’ve complied some facts to help you make sense of the pros and cons of including dried fruit in your diet.

What is dried fruit?

Dried fruits are the product of normal fruit with nearly all of the water extracted. Good technology for drying fruit ensures the end product retains all the vitamins and minerals of the original fruit, significantly better than any other method of preservation.  Dried fruits have up to four or five times higher concentration of vitamins and minerals compared to fresh fruit. The most widespread dried fruits are raisins, followed by dates, plums, apricots and figs.

Small size – Big benefits

Dried fruits are very nutritious. A dried fruit contains nearly the same amount of nutrients as its source, but in a much smaller size. 50 g of dried fruits contain up to 3.5 times more fiber, vitamins and minerals than 50 g of fresh fruit of the same kind. This makes dried fruit a wonderful source of much of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals needed such as folic acid. There are some exceptions. For example the amount of vitamin C in the fruit is significantly reduced during its drying. On the other hand other minerals are more concentrated, such as in apricots. Five dried apricots contain the total daily dose of iron needed to maintain the level of hemoglobin and calcium.

Most often dried fruits contain lots of fiber and are a great source of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols. Polyphenols are the most powerful antioxidants and have numerous health benefits – normalisation of blood pressure, improvement of the digestive system and a reduced risk of many diseases.According to various studies, regular consumption of dried fruit as part of a balanced dietreduces the likelihood of obesity.

High in simple sugars and calories

Dried fruits are concentrated food and the amount of sugar and calories is concentrated in a much smaller volume.

Simple sugars in dried fruits include fructose and glucose with the amount of fructose being in the range of22-51%.Consumption of fructose in large quantities can have negative effects on health, increasing the risk of weight gain,type 2 diabetes and problems with the cardiovascular system. For this reason it is advisable that dried fruit be consumed in small quantities.

As a rough guide, the quantity of dried fruit you consume must be around one quarter of your fresh fruit intake. For example if you have 200g fruit of your choice in your individual meal plan, you can  eat 50g of dried fruits instead.

Good Quality Dried Fruits Might Just be Ugly!

Dried fruits aare tasty and handy snack food, but only if dried properly and if they are not treated with chemicals or have any added sugar. Unfortunately, the majority of commercially available dried fruits are further processed to obtain a better presentation and longer shelf life. Further processing includes various methods such as fumigation with sulfur dioxide of apricots and raisins to add shine and colour; drying in petrol or gas furnaces; soaking in low quality oil or treatment with glycerin to acquire appetizing shiny and soft appearance. Some dried fruits on the market such as cranberries, pineapple, mango, papaya, pears and other are not actually real dried fruit, but rather are candied and then dried.

When choosing packaged dried fruits, carefully read the label and check for any of the above added ingredients. Often if they are dark and shriveled they are full of nutrients and flavour.

Dried fruits can be very addictive! You can easily eat more than desired so keep tabs on your intake.Select your favorite dried fruits and make sure it’s a small snack in place of any sweets you might have chosen. Dried fruits may not be perfect, but they are a much better choice for an afternoon snack than processed sweet and / or salty foods. Feel free to  include them in your menu if you are following a meal plan composed by You can also try to dry your own fruits, that way you know there wont be any additives in them and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour!

This sentence is translated from Google like this: For example if you have 200 g fruit of your choice in your individual mode , you can eat in ’50 dried fruits.

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