Fruits, natural sources of sugar hold an impeccable record for being one of the healthiest sources of nutrients available to mankind. Don’t we realize that any food holds better value and nutrition when its consumed in its original form than giving some twists and turns to it? So do fruits but surprisingly dried fruits can boost our nutrition levels given the fact that certain X factors are adhered to!
Yummy dried cranberries, kiwis, jackfruits, mangoes, mulberries, apricots and peaches are now available in supermarkets. Its no wonder that we are able to carry a kilo of apricots in a little pouch inside our handbags or lunch boxes when they exist in a dried form. I guess many of you by now would have guessed the primary disadvantage of these dried versions-excess consumption due to their smaller sizes and ignorance of portions.
Smaller Size, Bigger Price, Greater Buys
No food is devoid of calories and we can forget the zero-calorie concept which exists only virtually. Eat a cucumber or a piece of cake, both contain calories and it is the differentiation between healthy and unhealthy calories that bring upon the contrast. Fruits as we know are a source of healthy calories and dried fruits too belong to this category! Beware, these dried versions come with their very own clauses for using them.
Beyond differentiating between calorie-rich from calorie-less foods our minds are tuned towards focusing on big versus small sometimes. If we were to follow the same concept with our favorite dried fruits as well the math is going to be worse and we land up consuming a lot of calories eating them. Being comparatively smaller than their fresh counterparts its easier to munch upon an entire bowl of dry raisins but not possible to finish off an equal quantity of fresh ones. The nutrients and fiber in dried fruits are concentrated as water content is removed from the fruit. So, a half-cup of dried fruit is equivalent to one cup of the fresh variant. Also, being naturally dried is different from adding sugars and other convenient ingredients to enhance taste. Fruits already contain natural glucose and adding more sugars will only increase their calorie value.
But these tiny variants are rich sources of fiber, antioxidants and B vitamin folate. While we talk about overeating them there is a large-scale study that shows that individuals consuming dried fruits show improved nutrient intake and weight loss compared to others. It can even be a quick source of fuel for athletes who look for energy on the go. For you and me, we need to handle dried fruits cautiously. For example, a cup of fresh apricots is around 80 calories whereas a cup of dried ones is 212 calories. Similarly, a cup of fresh grapes is around 100 calories whereas a cup of dried ones is around 450 calories. Isn’t it surprising that there is so much variation in calories (almost 5 times in some cases) between dry and fresh ones?
Fulfilling Portion Requirements
Every dietitian and nutritionist requests individuals to eat at least three portions each of fruits and veggies which amounts to around 2 cups of each per day. So, if you are planning to consume dried fruits remember that half a cup of dried fruits counts as one cup of fresh fruits. In case of dietitians it is better to discuss with a nutritionist/dietitian at www.firsteatright.com before consuming them as dried fruits are rich sources of carbohydrates. For that matter, in case of anyone who is bothered about calories, carbs and sugars it is recommended to make note of portion sizes as there is every possibility that you can keep munching those tiny cranberries or sweet dried mangoes forgetting about calories and carbs. Avoid those fruits that are available in candied forms as they are sure to contain excess sugar. For this, reading the ingredients and the nutrition label given at the back of the package helps greatly. Some dried fruits also contain preservatives in the form of sulfites that enhance the color and appearance of the fruit. Their presence can give stomach cramps, rashes or even asthma when some people allergic to sulfites consume it.
So, dried fruits are good in the context that they are enriched with nutrients but disadvantageous when we weigh its calorie values, carbs and sugar content. Eating a handful of them is suggested as they bring about goodness and help the individual fulfill antioxidant requirements of the body too. Ensure to avoid candied fruits and don’t go beyond the suggested calorie intake.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.