Raisins are a nutritious snack and a tasty topper for salads and oatmeal, but only if you balance your diet with a variety of other healthy foods. By including raisins as part of a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, you'll stay full, satisfied and healthy. Talk to your doctor before making any changes in your diet, especially if you have allergies or health conditions.
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Raisins may look like pieces of shriveled dog food, but they're actually grapes that are dried in the sun or with the use of a food dehydrator. Raisins are nutritious and may provide you with a boost of energy, but they're also high in calories and sugar. A 1/4-cup serving of raisins contains 130 calories, no fat, 10 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 29 g sugar and 1 g protein. Raisins contain small amounts of iron and calcium and are also a source of polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that may be linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Raisins in Moderation
Raisins eaten sparingly are nutritious as a snack or as part of a meal, but like all dried fruit, they are high in calories. If you consume raisins too often and don't control your overall caloric intake, the excess calories may lead to weight gain. In addition, the sugar content of raisins can contribute to tooth decay and may cause your blood triglyceride levels to rise. Instead, enjoy raisins in moderation. A 1/2-cup serving of dried fruit like raisins is equivalent to 1 cup of fresh fruit, and adult men and women need only about 2 cups of fruit daily, say the U.S. Department of Agriculture's My Plate guidelines.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Even if your children turn their noses up at fruit, they may enjoy sweet, chewy raisins as a snack. Spread peanut butter on a few celery sticks, then sprinkle a few raisins on top for a quick snack between meals. Substitute raisins for sprinkles on ice cream to add a serving of fruit to your child's dessert. For a nutritious snack on the go, combine almonds, walnuts, peanuts and raisins in a small plastic bag and bring along your do-it-yourself trail mix in your purse or backpack.
Healthy Meal Ideas
Raisins add sweetness and an extra serving of fruit to breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast, sprinkle your oatmeal with raisins instead of sugar or syrup. For lunch, enjoy a salad topped with raisins -- the salad will be so flavorful, you can go easy on the dressing. For dinner, add a sprinkle of raisins to veggies or mashed potatoes. You'll add a hint of sweetness that will turn your traditional side dish into a culinary knockout.