Because the dehydration process removes the moisture from fruit, dried fruits are a more concentrated source of carbohydrates, fiber and some other essential nutrients than fresh fruits. However, dehydration may degrade some of the vitamins that fresh fruit contains. Dehydrated fruit is more dense in calories. Although dried fruit is not necessarily healthier than fresh fruit, dried fruits add vitamins, minerals and energizing carbohydrates to your diet.
Dehydration is an ancient method of preserving fresh fruit. Drying prevents spoilage by removing the moisture that microorganisms need in order to grow. As a concentrated source of fiber and other carbohydrates, dried fruits promote healthy digestion and provide concentrated energy. Dried apricots, apples, plums or figs have a longer shelf life than their fresh equivalents, so you can store them for longer periods of time. Drying fruits gives you access to fruits that are not widely available in raw form throughout the year, such as figs, dates, papayas, pineapples and mangoes. If stored in an airtight container, most dried fruits will keep for at least one month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because the caloric content of dried fruit is highly concentrated, the standard servings for dried fruit should be half the size of fresh fruit, the CDC notes. One cup of fresh apricot halves has 74 calories, 17 grams of total carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 134 grams of water, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By comparison, one cup of dried apricot halves has 313 calories, 81 grams of total carbohydrate, 10 grams of fiber and 40 grams of water. If you’re trying to control your weight or monitor your intake of carbohydrates, you can eat a higher volume of fresh fruit than dried fruit, which may promote more effective appetite and carbohydrate control.
Dried fruits have higher concentrations of certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds than their fresh counterparts. In a study published in the February 2005 issue of the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” Joe Vinson, Ph.D., and colleagues compared the nutritional profiles and antioxidant activity of fresh and dried apricots, figs, dates, cranberries other fruits. Their analysis showed that dried apricots are higher in potassium and iron than corresponding servings of raw apricots and dried figs are higher in calcium and fiber than fresh figs. The researchers found that some dried fruits, including figs and dates, had a higher concentration of phenols -- antioxidant compounds that may offer protection against heart disease and cancer.
Commercially prepared dried fruit may contain sugar, artificial coloring, preservatives or other additives. The sulfur compounds used to preserve dried fruit may cause allergic reactions in some people who eat these foods. By preparing your own dried fruit with solar dehydration, oven dehydration or an electric dehydrator, you can benefit from the high concentrations of nutrients in dried fruit without consuming any additives. The CDC notes that the dehydration process may degrade vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that deteriorates when exposed to heat. To reduce the loss of vitamin C, pretreat fruit with citrus juices before drying, the CDC advises.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fruits and Veggies Matter: Fruit & Vegetable of the Month: Dried Fruit
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Apricots, Raw, 1 Cup
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Apricots, Dried, Sulfured, Uncooked, 1 Cup
- “Journal of the American College of Nutrition”; Dried Fruits: Excellent in Vitro and in Vivo Antioxidants; Joe A. Vinson, Ph.D., et al.; February 2005
- Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Food Contaminants: Overview of Nutrition
- dates image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.