We all love fresh fruits – their amazing taste, crunch and sweetness. But there are times when we can’t have our favorite fruit either because it’s not available or because it’s a seasonal fruit. This is where the convenience of dried fruits comes. However, those who’ve had a taste of dried fruits will argue that there’s more than just convenience to these handy and healthy snacks.
First off, these are some of the best snacks you can have. Healthy, loaded with fiber and satisfying to eat – dried fruits offer some amazing benefits. Fruits like raisins, apricots, prunes, peaches and figs are some of the popular dried fruits that are available in the market today. But a look at some health stores might even bring you interesting dried fruits such as apples, pineapples, papayas and even mangoes.
Dried fruits are bursting with health and have become a popular snack for the health conscious and the weight watchers. Here’s a more detailed look at some of the benefits of dried fruits.
- Dried fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are extremely important for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamins such as Vitamin B12 and folic acid help in the formation of RBC and these are vitamins are abundantly found in peaches, apricots and raisins.
- Stock up on dried fruits such as figs, berries and prunes. These are packed with iron, which is important for the formation of hemoglobin. Regularly eating these dried fruits can help in preventing anemia, which is a problem that besets many people, especially women.
- You’re on a diet and yet you have the utmost craving for something sweet. Don’t reach for that candy bar and instead grab a handful of dried fruits such as raisins or figs. Weight watchers are finding dried fruits to be an excellent way to reduce weight. Since they contain condensed amounts of fructose, dried fruits are sweeter than fresh fruits and can therefore, be used as substitutes when you have a craving for something sweet. Eating dried fruits is a good way to move away from calorific cream filled pastries, chocolates and ice creams.
- Most people suffer from a bit of constipation and this is directly related to their diet. People tend to miss out on eating fiber rich foods that provide the important roughage, which, in turn, prevents constipation. Opt for eating dried fruits as they’re rich in fiber, help in digestion and in general lead to a healthy colon.
- Some dried fruits are also known to reduce the appearance of cancer. Dried fruits such as apricots contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cancer of the prostate, lungs, esophagus and larynx. Dried cherries are known to contain pectin and antocyanins which are again helpful in preventing cancer.
- Some more good news about cherries. Did you know that they can boost your dental health as well? These little critters contain powerful antibacterial agents that can halt tooth decay and formation of plaque as well. If you’ve ignored cherries so far, you’ll be interested to learn that if you eat dried cherries regularly, you’ll be able to sleep better and even recover from jetlag much easily.
- Some dried fruits have adopted the status of super food simply by virtue of their amazing properties which can even help in preventing cancer. These dried fruits are rich in antioxidants. For example, dried blueberries are known to contain anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps in preventing free radical damage in the body; thereby enabling it to fight away various health issues, such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, glaucoma, peptic ulcers, cataracts, heart disease as well as cancer. Dried dates and berries are also used in traditional Chinese medicines. In India, dried gooseberries are powdered and used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine, which is a well known branch of traditional medicine.
- Scientific studies have shown that dried black raspberries prevent development of cancer, dried cranberries can fight infections and combat the aging process; dried prunes are rich in antioxidants that improve blood flow and dried plums slow down the development of atherosclerosis.
- Apples have pectin and they work wonders with asthmatic children. Studies have shown that they reduce the occurrence of cancer as well.
But to the common man why are dried fruits so popular today?
The answer is simple. They have a high concentration of carbohydrates, which is responsible for the energy boost that they provide. They are also easy to carry around, which is why sports persons, hikers and other athletes love to carry dried fruits with them. Dried fruits are also made into health bars which are a tasty snack in itself, although you might want to look out for one that doesn’t have added sugar etc.
Dried fruits can be consumed directly or you can sprinkle them on top of your cereal or whip it up with some chilled yoghurt. Toss some with your cornflakes to add a zing to your breakfast or simply shake some with your granola before you eat it.
You can also freeze dried foods to conserve the important nutrients contained in them. Frozen dried berries particularly are an ideal option to add to breakfast cereal because they can turn your ordinary meal into a power breakfast. Brightly hued berries such as blueberries and raspberries when freeze dried are excellent in helping you fight chronic diseases as well.
You can purchase dried fruits directly from stores, preferably stores that stock organic foods or make your own at home by using a dehydrator. Choose your favorite fresh fruit and dry them in the dehydrator so you can enjoy the goodness of fresh fruits even when they are not available. Store dried fruits in air tight glass containers, preferably in the refrigerator.
Some dried fruits contain preservatives and are also bleached or colored. To avoid consuming such fruits, try and buy from stores that sell organic dried fruit. Most often organic dried fruits are dried in the sun naturally, so that all the nutrients and enzymes are intact.
However, one thing to remember is that dried fruits should be eaten in moderation because they contain concentrated amounts of sugar and carbohydrates that can boost your calorie intake if you’re not careful and lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.