Are Raisins Really Good for You?

Raisins are either a food you love or hate. As a shriveled grape, you may understand the raisins' plight. But like the grape and most other fruits — dried included — raisins are good for you and make a healthy addition to your diet. And because they lack water content, you don't need to eat a lot get the benefits.

Add raisins to your bowl of oatmeal for a natural touch of sweetness. (Image: Solnuha/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Yes, raisins really are good for you. They help you meet your daily fruit needs in a small portion and supply fiber, potassium, B vitamins and copper.

Raisins Nutrition

When debating whether raisins are really good for you, understand what's considered a portion to help keep things in perspective. Because raisins are a dried fruit, the portion size is much smaller than that of a regular fruit, such as grapes. That's because removing the water content concentrates the nutrition and decreases portion size.

A typical portion of raisins is equal to 1/4 cup. By comparison, a typical portion of grapes is equal to 1 cup.

Raisins' nutrition in a 1/4-cup serving, or one small 1.5-ounce box of raisins, includes:

  • 129 calories
  • 34 grams of carbs
  • 25.5 grams of sugar
  • 1.6 grams of fiber
  • 1.3 grams of protein

A typical serving of raisins isn't a significant source of many nutrients, with the exception of copper. One serving of raisins provides 15 percent of your daily value (DV) for copper. This trace mineral helps your body absorb iron and assists iron in the formation of your red blood cells.

Although not a significant source of these nutrients, eating 1/4 cup of the dried fruit can also help you get closer to your daily potassium, iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium needs. It's also a source of many of the B vitamins.

For comparison to raisin nutrition, a 1-cup serving of grapes contains:

  • 62 calories
  • 16 grams of carbs
  • 15 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of fiber
  • 1 gram of protein

Your 1-cup serving of grapes also provides more than 10 percent of the DV for manganese and vitamin K. The 1/4-cup serving of raisins provides only 6 percent of the DV for manganese and 1 percent of the DV for vitamin K.

If you compare the calories between raisins and grapes, you may notice that raisins contain more than twice the number of calories as grapes, in a significantly smaller serving size. If you're counting calories or watching your weight, it's important to pay attention to calorie content so you don't eat more than you need. Eating too many calories from any source, whether from raisins or grapes, leads to weight gain.

Benefits of Raisins

If you're looking for a snack that can satisfy your sweet tooth and improve your health, add raisins to your snack repertoire.

The health benefits of raisins include:

  • Protection against free radicals
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Improved blood sugars

Compared to grapes, raisins have three times the antioxidant power, according to Berkeley Wellness. Antioxidants are substances that help stop or delay damage to your cells. Filling your diet with more antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, like raisins, may help protect you from disease.

Snacking on raisins may also help lower your blood pressure. One out of every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2014 study published in the Postgraduate Medicine found evidence that raisins may significantly lower blood pressure.

Raisins may also help you keep your weight under control, according to a 2017 study published in Food & Nutrition Research. This cross-sectional study, which included data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2012, found that regular raisin consumers had a lower body mass index than nonregular raisin eaters. They also had higher intakes of many health-promoting nutrients, such as fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Replacing your usual unhealthy food with raisins may also help you get better control over your blood sugars if you have diabetes. A 2015 study published in Physicians and Sportsmedicine compared the blood sugar levels in a small group of individuals with diabetes when snacking on raisins compared to processed foods. The researchers found that eating raisins as a snack significantly improved both immediate and long-term blood sugar levels.

A Closer Look at Fiber

Fiber is one of the benefits of raisins. Although not considered a significant source in a standard 1/4-cup serving, those 1.6 grams of fiber provide 6 percent of the DV and can certainly help you get closer to your daily goal.

Most Americans don't get enough fiber in their diet, averaging about 16 grams, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adding more fiber to your diet not only improves your trips to the bathroom, but also may improve heart health and make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. Adults need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day, depending on age and gender.

About That Sugar

Yes, raisins are a source of fruit sugar. But that doesn't mean they're an unhealthy food. In fact, unlike the sugar from your sugar bowl, the natural sugar in raisins comes with all the nutritional benefits. You shouldn't avoid raisins, or any other fruits for that matter, because of their sugar content.

While Americans consume way more sugar than they need, most of that extra sugar comes from added sugar — not the natural sugar found in foods like raisins.

Adding Raisins to Your Diet

There are many ways you can add raisins to your diet. In addition to serving them as an alternative to unhealthy food snacks, you can use raisins to add sweetness and a boost of nutrition to some of your favorite foods:

  • Blend raisins with almonds to create a super-sweet, healthy nut butter.
  • Add raisins to your pancake batter for extra sweetness so you can skip the syrup.
  • Make your own dried fruit and nut mix.
  • Use raisins in place of jelly on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Sprinkle raisins on your favorite chicken salad.
  • Making homemade bread? Roll in some cinnamon and raisins.
  • Blend yogurt, oatmeal, raisins, milk and pumpkin pie spice for a healthy smoothie.

And if you're craving a childhood snack, make your mom's famous ant logs: a celery stick filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins.

Making Your Own Raisins

If you avoid raisins because they're simply too dry, you may want to consider making your own by slow-cooking them in your oven. This allows you to control the moisture content and the flavor so you get plump, flavorful raisins.

Simply bake your thoroughly washed and dried grapes on an oiled baking sheet in a 225 F oven for about four hours or until your grapes are shriveled to your liking. Enjoy them as a snack instead of some other unhealthy foods or use them in your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. Store your homemade raisins in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

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