Dried fruit is an easy-to-pack way of getting the daily servings of fruit your body needs. But this fruit option has come under dietary criticism because some dried fruits contain added sugars and preservatives. Dried fruit is healthy to eat, but you must choose wisely. Like any food, dried fruit can be unhealthy if you eat too much; check the package for correct serving sizes. Talk to your physician if you are unsure if dried fruit is a good choice for your diet.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating two cups of fruit a day. The serving size can change, however, when the fruit is dehydrated. A typical cup of fruit can be equivalent to 1/4 cup of dried fruit, notes “Shape” magazine. This means you eat a smaller portion of dried fruit, yet reap the same benefits. However, different types of dried fruit may be various sizes of servings. Read the package nutrition labels to determine how much dried fruit equals a serving. Portion control can be key for weight management. And if you are diabetic, the sugars found naturally in fruit can affect blood sugar.
A study, published in February 2005 in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” looked at fresh and dried fruits in terms of antioxidant and nutrient content. Researchers from the University of Scranton compared fruits, including figs, plums and dates. The researchers found dried fruits have similar levels of antioxidants and are a good source of fiber when compared to fresh fruits. The study singled out dried figs as an excellent nutrient source. The researchers recommended that dietitians use dried fruits as part of a balanced nutritional plan.
Dried Fruit Concerns
Dried fruits may contain sulfites, which are compounds added to preserve shelf life. These compounds are associated with increased risk for allergic reactions, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Read food labels carefully if you have experienced an allergic reaction to sulfites in the past. Another concern is that dried fruits can have added sugars that boost the overall caloric intake. Dried fruits are tasty but limit the amount you eat to a single serving.
How to Choose
To pick the healthiest dried fruit, look for varieties that do not contain added sugar or preservatives. However, dried fruits may include 100 percent fruit juice or oil to enhance flavor and reduce fruit clumping; these additions are considered healthy, according to Cynthia Sass, a dietitian writing in “Shape” magazine. The fewer additives, the healthier dried fruit is likely to be. When you make these healthy choices, dried fruit can be a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium and folate.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.