More than two-thirds of adults fall short of eating the recommended two fruit servings daily, according to registered dietitian Cynthia Sass. With a stat like that, eating any type of dried fruit would be an improvement – but there are some types that can be healthier than others, depending on the nutrients you're seeking.
No Sugar Added
The healthiest dried fruits contain no added sugars or sweeteners. If you're buying a very tart variety, such as cranberries or sour cherries, look for those that are sweetened with 100 percent fruit juice rather than sugar, wrote Sass.The American Heart Association noted that including too much added sugar in your daily diet can raise your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.
Because dried fruits don't contain the water that fresh fruits do, they're less filling and you need about a quarter of the serving size that you would want with fresh fruit. That means it can be easier to overeat dried fruits, but if you pick one with a high fiber content, you may be more likely to stick to the recommended serving size. Lower body weights and body fat percentages are associated with higher fiber intakes, suggesting that fiber encourages healthy weight management and helps prevent obesity. If weight loss or weight maintenance is your highest priority, stock up on dried figs. Two dried figs have an impressive 7 grams of dietary fiber, while two dried apricots or 2 tablespoons of raisins each have about 2 grams.
A study published in 2005 in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" noted that some dried fruits have higher nutrient concentrations than their fresh counterparts. Specifically, dates, figs and prunes all contain better-quality antioxidants than their fresh counterparts, making them smart choices if it's a priority for you to include more "superfoods" in your diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics noted that antioxidants can help prevent health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and cataracts.
The higher numbers of calories per serving for dried fruits can be an advantage if you're trying to gain weight healthfully or if you're an athlete who often needs to turn to quick, nutrient-dense foods. If adding calories is your goal, stick with raisins. The European Food Information Council said that raisins have the most calories among dried fruits -- 320 per 100 grams -- closely followed by dates, which have 300 calories per 100 grams.
- Shape.com: Is Dried Fruit Healthy or Fattening?
- American Heart Association: Added Sugars Add to Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease
- The Globe and Mail: Is Dried Fruit Good or Bad for Me?
- Nutrition: Dietary Fiber and Body Weight
- European Food Information Council: What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Dried Fruit?
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Dried Fruits - Excellent in Vitro and in Vivo Antioxidants
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Antioxidants