Dried Fruits and Fresh Should Be Part of Your Diet
Traditional dried fruits, such as dried apricots, dates, raisins, and dried apples, should be included with fresh fruits as part of the recommended dietary intake, according to health researchers from around the world. Dried fruits are not only nutritious, but also offer other important benefits.
Dried fruits are often misunderstood
Although dried fruits are highly nutritious and included in the dietary recommended guidelines in some countries, many others have not formally made that step. Internationally known researchers at the 30th World Nut & Dried Fruit Congress have stated that food policy makers should consider dried fruits on an even plane with fresh fruit when issuing dietary recommendations.
One problem that arises when comparing dried fruit with fresh regarding nutrition is equating them on a weight-for-weight basis. Dried fruits are conceived to have more sugar than fresh fruit. However, when water content and portion size are accounted for, natural fruit sugars and calories are equal for dried and fresh fruits.
According to Dr. Daniel D. Gallaher of the University of Minnesota, dried fruits provide important health benefits. “Dried fruits are great sources of total and soluble fiber in the diet.” They are also low on the glycemic index scale and thus “can play an important role in preventing different aspects of metabolic diseases.”
Dried fruits are an important source of potassium and polyphenols, plant nutrients that have been shown to help protect against heart disease. Dr. Gary Williamson of the University of Leeds noted that “dried fruits contain high levels of a variety of polyphenols and we are just starting to understand their health protective effect.”
In the United States, where dried fruits are recommended along with fresh fruit, the majority of Americans fail to meet the minimum recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. The goal of Healthy People 2010 was for 75 percent of people to consume at least two servings of fruit daily, but by 2009, only 32.5 percent of adults reportedly reached that goal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to their nutritional value, dried fruits offer other advantages: they are easy to store and transport, they naturally resist spoilage, they are available year round, and they can be easily added to the diet with other foods.
Despite the many benefits provided by dried fruits, as well as fresh, and efforts to increase their consumption, a significant number of people still do not consume the recommended amount. It is the hope of the authors of the 30th Congress’ statement that dried fruits be included with fresh fruits in dietary recommendations around the world.