Dried Fruits in Our Nutrition: Benefits and Dangers
Fresh fruits are good for human body. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers and another substances human being needs. Once dried correctly in fresh air and at a low temperature without use of chemical additives, they preserve up to 90 % of their valuable properties. They contain greater amounts of healthy substances compared to freshly picked fruits.
Unique chemistry and long best before date make dried fruits very popular. But are they healthy to have? Let’s try to find it out!
Health Benefits of Dried Fruits: Useful Features and Culinary Use
Dried fruits are rich in vitamins and micro elements. They are available whole year long. Dried fruits are especially popular during winter and spring as body needs vitamins and fresh fruits are not so well available. The table below contains list of health benefits of the most popular dried fruits.
Organic Compounds, Micro- and Macro Elements
Health Benefits and Healing Properties
Use in Cooking
– Organic acids
А, B5, С, РР
They prevent removal of potassium and strengthen potassium as well as improve heart functioning. They help to increase hemoglobin. These fruits act as a soft laxative, cleanse gut and improve gastric motility.
Dried apricots are used in pastry, desserts and to fill pies.
Dried apricots with stones
They contain fiber and up to 53 % of easily digested carbs. Soaked, they nicely clean gut. The fruits prevent cancer and decrease high blood pressure.
It is a wonderful ingredient for casseroles. It can be added to risotto, compotes, jam and patty cakes. It is served with meaty and vegetable snacks.
А, С, В1, В2, В5, В6
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have it as raisins replenish lack of iron and stimulate lactation. They relieve fatigues and pressure as well as calm down excitatory system and improve quality of sleep. Potassium and magnesium normalize blood pressure and strengthen myocardia.
They are used in bread and pastries, puddings and cakes of different kind. Raisins are also used in meat dishes and risotto along with dried apricots with stones. They suit for use in compotes and nicely complement fruit drinks and rye beer.
А, Е, В
This is a fruit that provides one with energy and increases working ability. It strengthens uterus muscles as well as improves heart functioning and helps one to recover after long lasting sickness.
Pastry, buns, cakes, cookies and fruit salads are usually complemented with dates. They also can be added to compotes, fools and muesli.
– Organic acids
А, В, С, РР
They efficiently fight constipation and remove toxic substances and heavy metals from body. They also act as a diuretic and choleretic. Thanks to potassium and magnesium, these fruits can be safely used in presence of cardiovascular diseases. They activate production of gastric juice and increase appetite.
Dried plums can complement salads, meat dishes and compotes.
А, С, В1, В2, В3, В6, РР
Dried figs are used to prevent cardiovascular diseases. They positively affect gut motility and help to get rid of toxic substances. They act like a laxative.
Baked, they can nicely complement red wine served with nuts and mascarpone (Italian cream cheese).
А, В, С
They nicely affect digestive, circulatory and excitatory systems. Dried apples restore functions of liver and kidneys. They are used to prevent thyroid and endocrine system diseases.
They are used in compotes and fruit juices. Dried apples along with fresh ones also complement pastry.
А, В1, В2, Е, Р, С
They improve pancreas and urinary tract functioning. Dried pears lower stress and help to treat common colds. Potassium strengthens heart.
Dried pears can be complemented with sour milk products such as cheese, curd and smetana as well as porridges. This is a wonderful ingredient to be used for homemade pastry, cakes and pies.
Dried fruits should be bought whole and with stone. If they are chopped, then they lose some of their vitamins. Eastern people believe that to take stone from fruit is just like take its soul.
Nutritional Value of Dried Fruits
Dried fruits and berries may seem to be an easy food to have. Compared to fresh fruits, they have a small size and, therefore they «cheat» natural saturating mechanisms which react to the volume of consumed food. We start to think that we’ve got only little calories, but such a small snack is equal to a full plate of fried potatoes with pork steak. Nutritional value increases by 5 to 6 times once the fruits are dried. To get convinced in this matter, please kindly review the information provided in the below.
Kcals per 100 g
Kcals per 100 g
To prevent overeating, prepare serving of dried fruits in advance and do not eat them from large bowl or package. It is not that easy to stop when eating them…
Dangers of Dried Fruits
Once dried, fruits become dehydrated. Water free fruits contain excessive sugar. To compare, fresh apricot contains up to 5-21% of fructose and sucrose depending on type and ripeness while dried apricot contains up to 40-60 % of these substances. If you don’t take this fact into consideration, then you may suffer from unpleasant side effects such as follows:
1) The insulin spike (insulin is required to maintain a normal blood glucose level). This results in overloading of pancreas, which is responsible for the production of this hormone.
2) Reproduction of the microbes in mouth. The sticky particles of dried fruits adhere quite well to the surface of teeth and host the microorganisms, which destroy dental enamel.
3) Dehydration. Since food processing requires water and dried fruits are water free, the body must use its own reserves. It is necessary to replenish the water balance within 40-60 minutes after consumption of such products.
4) Yeast multiplication. These organisms work together with healthy intestinal bacteria and help to digest food. However, increased concentration of yeast results in imbalance of digestive system. Bloating and flatulence signify this problem.
Fruits are not dried naturally in the sun or in the shade outdoors in industrial scale, but they are thermally processed with the temperatures above 100 C. Gas oven or tunnel dryer are used for this purpose. Equipment must have a multi-stage air purification. But because such installations are expensive, manufacturers quite often ignore filtration-related requirements. Carcinogens are deposited directly on dates or figs, which you buy at stores.
Naturally, thermal processing destroys vitamins and enzymes. The product is converted into a simple source of energy that does not contain anything useful for the human body.
Stay Away from Chemical Substances!
Dried fruits are processed with chemical substances to look attractive in stores. The following substances are being used:
- Food colorings. Nature is arranged so that dried fruits become fade, look dull and wrinkled. But it doesn’t look so attractive for the buyer. Dried fruits should look bright and glossy. And manufacturers don’t care if these substances are good for health or not.
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2) – a gas with a pungent odor, which is formed during combustion of sulfur and calcination of the sulfides. Fruits are covered with smoke to protect them against mold, fungus and insect larvae. After this procedure, they do not rotten and stay good whole year long. Peel of such fruits absorbs sulphurous acid and, therefore, it does not darken. Thus, you see shiny golden raisins and unnaturally orange apricots in stores.
- Insecticides are drugs, which are used to combat plant pests; they contain heavy metals.
- Caustic soda (NaOH) – caustic alkali, which is used to soften the thick skin of grapes and plums. Boiling water is poured on top of fruits and then they are processed with sodium hydroxide. Thus, they dry very quickly. The usefulness of such a product is not worth mentioning.
Person starts to experience stomach ache and digestive as well as gall bladder and kidneys related issues after consumption of the food enriched with chemical substances. To minimize amount of harmful substances in dried fruits, they should be soaked in water for 15 to 20 minutes and then washed in warm water. And only then they are ready for consumption.