Dried Fruits vs. Fresh Fruits; A Health Comparison
Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, providing vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Both fresh and dried fruits have nutritional benefits, but there are some key differences between the two. We are going to explore the differences in nutritional value and health benefits of both dried and fresh fruits.
What are dried fruits?
Dried fruits, sometimes called dehydrated fruits, are fresh fruits that have had almost all of their water content removed through drying methods. Common dried fruits include raisins, prunes, dates, apricots, apples, pineapples, bananas, cranberries, blueberries, jackfruit, and mango. The drying process concentrates sugars and calories and changes the texture, transforming the fruit into something chewy. Dried fruits can be eaten as snacks, used in baked goods, added to cereals and oatmeal, or altered in water.
Benefits of dried fruits:
- Longer shelf life; Removing the water makes them less perishable. Dried fruit can be stored for months without refrigeration.
- Easy to transport and store; Dried fruits take up less space and weigh less than fresh fruits.
- High in nutrients; Ounce for ounce, dried fruit contains higher concentrations of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than fresh fruit. Drying precipitates the nutrition.
- Added sugars; Some dried fruits have added sugar to make it sweeter. Check ingredient lists if you want to avoid added sugars.
Potential downsides of dried fruit
- Higher calorie density; Dried fruit contains more calories per gram due to the removal of water. Portion sizes need to be monitored.
- High in natural sugar; The drying process makes sugars more concentrated. People with diabetes need to be mindful of portions; in that case, diabetics need dried fruits with no added sugars.
- Loss of some heat-sensitive nutrients; Some vitamins like vitamin C degrade during the drying process.
- High in fiber; Can cause gastrointestinal issues if over-consumed, consuming in moderate amount is advised.
Benefits of fresh fruits
- Higher water content - Fresh fruits are hydrating due to their high-water content. This makes them lower in calories by weight than dried fruit.
- No added sugars - Raw fresh fruits do not have any added sweeteners.
- Retention of heat-sensitive nutrients - Vitamin C and other heat-sensitive vitamins remain intact in fresh raw fruits.
- Lower glycemic index - The fiber, water and plant cell structures help slow the absorption of sugars in fresh fruit. This prevents sharp spikes in blood sugar.
- Wide variety available - Hundreds of fresh fruits are available in their raw natural state, many of which can't be dried.
The basic fact is that both fresh and dried fruits provide important nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet. Dried fruit offers convenience, while fresh fruits provide hydration and nutritional benefits from compounds that degrade during drying. As with most foods in nutrition, moderation and variety are key. Endeavour to get a mix of fresh and dried fruit in proper portions throughout your day.