Is Dried Fruit Healthy?

Dried fruit is a great way to add some extra sweetness to meals. Unlike refined sugar and syrups, which have had the fibre, vitamins and minerals stripped out, dried fruit is a whole food and still contains its fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Dried fruit will be higher in calories in comparison to the same weight of fresh fruit.

For example:

100g fresh cherries = 50 calories

100g dried cherries = 333 calories

On the plus side the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in dried fruit will also be more concentrated, which is a good thing.

A great alternative to refined sugar

So dried fruit is a great way to add sweetness, but as it is high in calories, it’s best to use in moderation. Think of it as a great alternative to table sugar or syrups. This way you get the sweetness, plus lots of beneficial nutrients, instead of just empty calories.

Always check the ingredients

Make sure to check the ingredient list on the package, as many dried fruit products will have sugar added, and/or preservatives.

The added sugar may be listed as sugar, sucrose, cane sugar, or raw cane sugar . These are all just refined sugar. Some dried fruit will use fruit juice or concentrates, to sweeten the fruit. Particularly for fruits that are naturally bitter, such as cranberries or aronia berries (chokeberries). I think this is a better option than refined sugars, but ideally look for just the fruit without any additives.

It’s not just added sweeteners you need to watch out for

Potassium Sorbate

As for the preservatives, potassium sorbate and sulphur dioxide are the main ones. Potassium sorbate has been identified as an irritant. It is often used with soft prunes, dried pears.

Sulphur Dioxide

Sulphur dioxide is a listed allergen. It is considered “safe” in small quantities for healthy individuals. However it can cause reactions in certain people, even in small amounts, particularly in those with asthma. It is used as a preservative and to retain the colour of the fruit.

A good example is dried apricots. Apricots will naturally go a brown colour when dried, whereas dried apricots with added sulphur dioxide will be bright orange. Other examples are dried pineapple, dried mango, dried apple, goji berries, and dried papaya. You can find these dried fruits without added sulphur dioxide, you just have to check the ingredients.

They taste exactly the same with or without the preservatives, so always choose the option without them. For me, I will just buy some other dried fruit if I can’t find a preservative free option of the fruit I was looking for.

Added oils

Sunflower may also be added. This is to stop the dried fruit from clumping together, and is generally used to a maximum of 1% of the product weight. While I think this is an unnecessary additive, and you can purchase dried fruit without added oil where clumping is barley and issue, and at most a mild two second inconvenience. If it’s all that is available, I think it is of the least concern compared to added sugars and preservatives.

Some reasons I include dried fruit in my day to day meals

Other than what I mentioned above, like added sweetness while also getting vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and fibre, as well as adding texture, I also like to go for dried fruit that may not always be readily available in fresh form. Cherries, apricots, goji berries, mulberries, aronia berries, cranberries, figs, and prunes are some examples of what I like to keep on hand. They can also be stored for longer than fresh fruit.

You can check out my Super Polyphenol Oats post for an example of how I like to use dried fruit.

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