An apple a day may not be a miracle cure, but this fall favorite is a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. While the taste of a straight-from-the-orchard apple can't be matched, dehydrated apples are a convenient and compact option. Dehydrated apples provide many of the nutrients of their juicier counterparts, with a few notable exceptions.
Apples are a source of both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber keeps your digestive system healthy and soluble fiber helps to control cholesterol. One medium fresh apple contains 4 grams of fiber, or approximately 15 percent of your daily recommendation of fiber for the day. A 1/3-cup serving of dehydrated apples provides 2.5 grams of fiber. Fresh apples provide a small amount of vitamin C. Dehydrated apples do not, because most of the vitamin C is lost during the dehydrating process. The skin of the apple is nutrient-rich, containing fiber and antioxidants. To get these benefits, choose dehydrated apples that still have their skin.
Dried fruit is easy, portable and convenient, but it has the disadvantage of a small serving size. Dried fruit is calorie dense. One medium-sized apple contains approximately 80 calories, but 1 cup of dried apples has 209 calories. The water in fresh fruits also adds bulk, which fills you up faster than dehydrated varieties.
Food manufacturers often add extra sugar to dried fruit for taste. Apples have plenty of natural sweetness, so this sugar only adds extra calories. To spare yourself from a candy-coated snack, take a look at the ingredient list before buying. If sugar is one of the first few ingredients, shop around for a natural option instead. Be extra cautious with processed apple chips. These can be loaded with added sugar and salt.
Dehydrated apples may not be an equal substitute for fresh fruit, but they can be a healthy treat. Chop up a few dehydrated apples and mix with unsalted nuts and raisins for an easy trail mix. Sprinkle diced apples on top of your yogurt or morning oatmeal. Remember a small serving goes a long way, so keep a measuring scoop handy to measure out portion sizes, and enjoy this compact, fall fruit any time of the year.
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.