Dried Fruit Nutrition
Drying causes fruits to loose water, leaving behind vitamins, minerals and other nutritional content. The reduced water content concentrates the natural sugar.
Some fruits such as raisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots, peaches, apples and pears are natural dried fruits, whereas others such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and mangoes are dried artificially using sun drying or other methods. Regardless of the type of dried fruit, they retain much of the nutritional value of fresh fruits. Like fresh fruits, dried fruits contain little or no fat, trans fats, saturated fat, cholesterol, or sodium.
Drying fruits nevertheless alters the nutritive value of foods. Heat and air destroy the Vitamins A and C inherent in the fruit. Dried fruits such as apricots and peaches however remain good sources of Vitamins A and C.
A review of dried food nutrition reveals most dried fruits as a rich source of particular nutrients. Raisins and dried plums have a rich concentration of boron, a trace element that plays a key role in maintenance of healthy bones and joints. Figs for instance, are a rich source of calcium, and dried plums a rich source of Vitamin K. Most dried fruits provide significant quantities of dietary fiber, potassium, iron, and copper, all contributing to healthy blood and muscles.
Artificial drying methods such as sulfite treatment cause the destruction of thiamin.
The calories in dried fruit are higher compared to the same serving size of ordinary fruit, owing to the concentration of nutrients in dried fruits.
The USDA Nutritional Database reveals that 100 grams of seeded raisins provide 265 calories, and a cup (145 grams) providing 429 calories. The calories in 100 grams of seedless raisins are slightly higher at 299 grams, and (434 calories for a cup of 145 grams). This is when 100 grams of ordinary grapes provide only about 67 calories. Likewise, 100 grams of prunes or dried plums provide 240 calories, (418 calories in a cup containing 174 grams), when 100 grams of ordinary raw plums provide 46 calories.
The calorie levels for other dried fruits remain approximately the same.
100 grams of dried figs provide 249 calories, (371 calories in a cup of 149 grams), whereas 100 grams of raw figs provide just 74 calories.
100 grams of dried apricots provide 260 calories, whereas the same quantity of fresh apricot provides just 51 calories.
100 grams of dried and sulfated peach provide 239 calories (382 calories in a cup of 160 grams), and in contrast 100 grams of raw peaches provide just 39 calories.
100 grams of dried and sulfated apple provides 243 calories, whereas the same quantity of raw apple provides only 52 calories.
100 grams of dried and sulfated pear provides 262 calories and a cup (180 grams) provides 472 calories, when 100 grams of raw pear provides 58 calories.
100 grams of dates provide 282 calories, and a cup of chopped dates (147 grams) provides 415 calories.
A smaller serving size usually compensates the relatively higher calories in dried fruit. One slice of fresh pineapple, and one slice of dried pineapple, for instance, provides the same calories, carbohydrates, and sugars, though the reduced water content cause dried fruit to weigh less.
A serving size of one-oz (60 raisins) provides 85 calories. This remains higher than the 62 calories contained in a cup (92 grams) of fresh grapes but remains within overall manageable limits when considering average calorie requirements for a normal person. The optimal serving size varies from fruit to fruit, and the nutritional label found in the dry fruits packaging contains information on the recommended serving size.
Artificial drying may however cause increase in calorie levels of dried fruits compared to fresh fruits. Most brands add chemicals to maintain freshness, color, and vitamin content, and artificial sweeteners such as fructose to increase the taste. This causes increase in calorie levels of such fruits.
Dried fruits do not constitute part of the regular American diet, but constitute a good snack option when consumed in moderation. It makes for healthier snack alternatives to other sugary snacks.
Dried fruit is a way of getting more by eating less. The high calories in dried fruit also make such foods good energy sources when consumption of regular food is difficult, for instance when indulging in adventure sports such as mountaineering, and during expeditions to offbeat locations. It also makes for a good food option for athletes who burn many calories. Dried fruits also make good snack options for kids and others looking to increase weight.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/. Retrieved 06 March 2011.
- University of Missouri Extension. “Quality for Keeps: Drying Foods.” https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=GH1562. Retrieved 06 March 2011.
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