Sunday, January 2, 2011

Preserved and Dried Fruit Vs Fresh Fruit Nutrition

If you're choosing, would you rather have raisins, or fresh grapes? It may be surprising for you to learn that there are differences between dried fruits and fresh fruits.

Produce departments in most areas are filling up with berries and cherries, and they generally look more appealing than dried fruit. But some people, nutritionists say, prefer dried fruits.

One registered dietitian has said that dried fruit doesn't have to be washed or prepared or peeled, which makes it easier to serve, especially to children.

Dried food is easier to handle and pack, and it's non-perishable and portable, but it can contain more calories when you compare it with fresh fruit. Nutrition values also can change, depending on how the dried fruit is prepared.

Nutritional experts say that because of the water used in keeping fresh produce fresh, they can help to fill up your stomach more, and you'll get more fruit nutrition with fewer calories consumed.

Fresh fruits are naturally rich in fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins C and A. Dried fruits have health benefits as well, but the process of drying the fruit can leach some of the nutrients from it.

Nevertheless, dietitians will tell you that dried and fresh fruits can each play a role in helping to satisfy your sweet tooth. This helps you to combat obesity, and the dried varieties make it easier to get your four fruit nutrition servings each day.

Researchers have discovered that when you dry blueberries, they actually become richer in antioxidants by four times over fresh blueberries. But drying processes can cause nutrients to be lost, and sometimes there will be sugar added as well. So most nutritional experts believe that fresh fruit is better for you, nutritionally.

Pretreatments that take place before the drying process, which include adding sulfur dioxide, can help to protect some of the nutrients, while at the same time degrading others. The sulfur dioxide preserves vitamins C and A, but destroys thiamine. Oftentimes, vegetables or fruits are steamed, or boiled briefly before they are dried, to help speed the drying process up and to kill microorganisms. This preserves thiamine and carotene but it causes a loss of vitamin C. Exposure to oxygen and light during the drying process can also degrade nutrients even further.

Drying with high heat can reduce the effective level of protein that your body gets from the food you eat. The protein is still there, but not as easily absorbed by your body. Fruit nutrition changes with the drying process, while it helps some nutrients and degrades others. The intensity of the drying process, depending on the fruit involved, will have various effects on the fruit you will eventually eat. Some of the effects are good, some not so good, and some parts of the dietary nutrition in fruits does not change appreciably when dried.

On the positive side, dried fruit has other benefits besides increased antioxidants. It is high in fiber, so it can be helpful in controlling diabetes, lowering blood cholesterol and helping to relieve constipation. Dried fruit is also a lot healthier than sugary snacks. And it's a quick energy source for athletes.

So... dried fruit is better in some ways and worse in others, as far as fruit nutrition statistics go. Eat dried fruits for snacks, but remember to include four servings of fresh fruit in your diet a day.

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