Posted by: Sara S. | November 18, 2009

Dried fruit confuses and amuses

In an ideal world, I would be snacking on lots of luscious fruits, fresh from the fields and well cleaned. But wouldn’t you know, they don’t have FARMS in midtown Manhattan. Not only that, no one has come up with a way to make fruit consumption a hands-on but mess-free activity, i.e. desk friendly.

Enter: dried fruit.

Dried fruit, the scourge of parenting mags and diet experts who want you to consume the real thing, is one of those polarizing nutritional creatures. Does dried fruit retain its vitamin content? Is it less filling, because there’s less water? Yes, dried fruit is still fruit. Dried fruit, however, is also higher in sugar than its “wet” counterpart. This is true of no-sugar-added dried fruit as well as dried fruit made by those idiots who add more sugar.

But, you say, doesn’t dried fruit have more fiber than my grandmother’s secret stash of Metamucil?

Why, yes, yes it does. One serving of my dried Turkish (oh la la!) apricots offers me 3 g of fiber, or 10% of my Daily Value. There are also notable amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. It is important to mention, though, that 1 dried apricot contains 16.8 calories, according to a very official random site I found. For a snack, I usually eat 4-5 little apricot guys; I mix them with 10 almonds to add protein and balance out the sugar. I love my apricots!

But not all dried fruit is created equal. Dried figs, prunes, currants and dates are good sources of fiber and potassium (a boon for heart health). Others, including figs, apricot, raisins and dates, are a good source of iron. Many also contain various antioxidants, especially berries. Unfortunately, some have added coloring, sulfur, sugar, chemicals–as always, check ingredients and nutrition data.

The bottom line is, dried fruit will never be as good for you as regular fruit. But, dried fruit can be more convenient and more tasty as a quick snack than the real deal. As Jenna would say: It’s all about moderation. Find the best dried fruits–packed with fiber, vitamins, no added sugar–and use it as a snack once a day in small quantities. Especially if you’ve given up sweets and refined sugars as I have, it’s important to sneak in delectables like these that are a treat but ain’t no Oreo cookie.

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Responses

  1. Also, I should point out that the Flat Belly Diet (which I OBVIOUSLY have mastered — NOT!) says you should eat dried fruit instead of fresh fruit because it’s less “bulky”.


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