This topic is inspired by my dad who claims that he has been asking me to write on this for years and is still waiting. He reminds me every so often. Since one of my other “dad inspired” posts is pretty popular (based on website hits and social media shares), I decided that I would finally oblige.
Find his other recommended topic here. Also note his very clever poem “A Toast to Oats”!
Dried Fruit vs. Fresh Fruit
When you think about what makes dried fruit different from fresh fruit, it’s really just the process of dehydrating. In the process of dehydrating, one thing is for sure…
The fruit gets smaller!!
- 15 grapes vs. 15 raisins.
- 1 apricot vs. 2 dried apricots (they are served in halves when dried).
- 1 plum vs. 1 prune
Big difference in serving size, right?
But the real nutrition question is whether that process causes any loss of nutrition aside from the loss of fluid.
Sugar, Calories and Fiber
When you look at serving size (1 cup of fresh, or 1/4 cup of dried), the calorie, fiber, and sugar content is about the same per serving.
First of all, it’s imporant to remember that sugar found in fruit is natural fructose and is perfectly healthy for you. For more on different types of sugar, check out my post here:
The Mystery of Sugar: How Your Body Digests It and the Difference Between Simple Sugars and Complex Carbs.
Don’t forget to read the ingredient list for dried fruit to make sure that sugars have not been added to the fruit.
It would be different if you compared 1 cup of dried and 1 cup of fresh. Obviously, 1 cup of dried fruit would have far more calories and sugar than fresh fruit. That’s because if you eat 1 cup of grapes, it’s about 15 grapes. If you eat 1 cup of raisins, it’s probably about 60 dehydrated grapes.
So you’d be eating MORE food.
Duh. More food will be more calories!
Not just more calories, but also more of just about every other nutrient present (including sugar and fiber). Except it could be less of any nutrient that may be lost in the dehydration process.
So back to that!
Are Nutrients Lost in the Dehydration Process?
The nutrients we would be concerned about in this case are the micronutrients. The vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are important for helping our bodies function correctly, but do not actually contribute to energy or muscle stores in the body.
General consensus among food scientists and registered dietitian nutritionists is that both dried and fresh fruit are nutritious choices. However, there are some nutrients that are lost in the drying process.
For example, much of the vitamin C and folate is lost when dried. Adding sulfur can help preserve those, but the sulfur can cause thiamine to be destroyed.
Should I eat Dried or Fresh???
After all of this, what’s the bottom line? As with my general philosphy regarding nutrition and healthy eating, variety is good!
Sometimes you eat your fruit dried. Sometimes you eat it fresh. Sometimes you even have it frozen, but that’s a post for another day! 🙂
There are going to be times of the year where you cannot get a certain fruit fresh. Like right now where I live I cannot get fresh cherries that taste good. In fact, I bought a bunch from Costco the other day at my daughters request.
They aren’t horrible. But they’re not the delicious cherries that I get in the summertime. But I LOVE the tart dried cherries that I can get at Trader Joe’s. Now is the perfect time to eat those.
Or I can get frozen cherries from Costco that are good for smoothies or making compote.
Remember that ANY FRUIT IS BETTER THAN NO FRUIT! Get variety in the types of fruit you eat and make sure you’re having 4-5 cups per day combined of fruits and veggies.
If you’re getting that, then you’re doing great. Don’t stress over it!
So there’s your bottom line! Dad, you’re welcome. 😛
Addendum from my dad. He wrote this poem in response, as a thank you! : – )
I like my fruit all wrinkled and dried.
I like my fruit even better deep-fried.
But don’t tell my daughter – no, don’t say a word,
For she would blog back that it’s silly – absurd.
So I’ll eat it fresh, or frozen, or dried.
But never again will you hear the word fried.