If you eat it in small portions, it is.
Dried fruit is a fantastic invention. It gives us an instant energy boost, it can be taken anywhere and can be stored for a long time. Best of all, dried fruit retains most of the nutritional value of its fresh counterpart. So including a small portion of dried fruit in your everyday diet will give you similar benefits to eating real fruit.
Dried fruit is a good source of many essential nutrients like potassium and fiber that can be low in today’s diet. For example apricots and peaches are a good source of vitamin A, figs are a good source of calcium, dried plums are an excellent source of vitamin K and raisins and plums are good source of Boron which is an essential trace element in healthy bones and joints. Dried fruit is also naturally low in sodium and is a perfect choice for people on low sodium diets.
Including dried fruit in our diet has a number of additional health benefits. For example, eating dried plums may help to lower cholesterol and protect or even reverse low bone density osteopenia which is a precursor for osteoporosis, and eating raisins or dried plums has been associated with intestinal balance and colon health. Interestingly, recent research shows that eating dried fruit helps to keep the teeth and gums healthy and does not cause cavities as previously thought.
The biggest drawback of dried fruit is the sugar content. As the fruit is dehydrated, the sugar is condensed and 1 cup of grapes will end up only as a 1/4 cup of raisins. So if you eat just 1 cup of grapes, you will consume 15g of sugar and 62 calories. However, if you eat 1 cup of raisins, you will consume a staggering 86g of sugar and 494 calories. Eating as little as 1/4 cup of raisins (21g sugar and 108 calories), almost reaches the current 25g total daily sugar intake recommended by the World Health Organization. To make matters worse, some manufacturers add sugar, artificial sweeteners, and fruit juices to dried fruit to make it taste sweeter. This extra sugar only adds calories and caries no nutritional value. Because of the high calorie and sugar content, eating dried fruit in large amounts can lead to increase in weight and can untimely lead to various diet linked diseases like diabetes.
One last thing to keep in mind is that dried fruit does not satisfy the hunger as much as fresh fruit due to the lack of water content. So if you are hungry or a type of person who likes to feel full then you are better off choosing fresh rather than dried fruit. Some people suggest soaking dried fruit overnight before eating it to make it more filling.
So tuck into your favorite dried fruit but remember to keep it to small portions. It is definitely a healthier choice than eating processed foods, sweets, cookies or going to fast food restaurants.