Don’t be afraid to toss a handful of raisins or dried apricots this festival and winter season, as research says dried fruit may relate to better health. These natural treasures not only provide a much-needed energy boost but also offer a rich source of nutrients.
The results of the study showed that persons who ate dried fruit were typically healthier than those who did not and that people who ate dried fruit also ingested more of several important nutrients on those days. They did discover, though, that individuals who ate dried fruit on those days ingested more calories overall.
The results, according to Valerie Sullivan, a Penn State graduate student, and postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, imply that dried fruit can be included in a healthy diet, although there are certain limitations.
Dried fruit – a nutritious snack when unsweetened
“Dried fruit can be a great choice for a nutritious snack, but consumers might want to be sure they’re choosing unsweetened versions without added sugar,” Sullivan said. “Portion sizes can also be tricky because a serving of dried fruit is smaller than a serving of fresh since the water has been taken out. But the positive is that dried fruit can help people potentially consume more fruit because it’s portable, it’s shelf-stable, and can even be cheaper.”
A lack of fruit is a crucial element in the poor diet that has been linked to nearly half of the fatalities in the United States from cardiovascular disease, according to previous study. The researchers claim that fruits are a great source of fibre, potassium, and several heart-healthy bioactives, among other nutrients.
Nevertheless, despite these advantages, additional research has shown that people could not eat enough fruit due to a variety of factors, such as its restricted availability, high cost, and short shelf life. Because dried fruit may be less expensive than fresh fruit, the goal of the current study was to determine whether it could be a healthier substitute.
Advantages of minimally processed fruit over fresh fruit
“Minimally processed forms of fruit, including frozen, canned, and dried, have some advantages over fresh fruits,” said Kristina Petersen, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University and assistant research professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State at the time this work was done. “They are available year-round, are relatively consistent in quality, and can be stored for far longer than fresh. Many are also less expensive per serving than their fresh counterparts.”
The researchers used information from 25,590 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants for the study. All the things they had eaten in the preceding 24 hours, including dried fruit, were listed by the participants. Additionally, information was obtained regarding the individuals’ general diet quality and cardiometabolic health, including blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index.
Intake of fresh fruit was higher when dried fruit was consumed
Upon data analysis, the researchers discovered that respondents who indicated they ate dried fruit in the survey generally had better diets than respondents who did not. They also tended to have lower body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure.
The researchers were also able to look at people’s diets on days when they ate dried fruit versus days when they didn’t since some of the individuals reported consuming dried fruit on one survey day but not the other.
“What I also found interesting was that people tended to eat more total fruit on the days they ate dried fruit than on days they didn’t,” Sullivan said. “On days when dried fruit was not eaten, however, fresh fruit intake was not higher. So dried fruit could be a way to boost overall fruit intake in people that aren’t eating the recommended amounts.”
More calories with dried fruit
Furthermore, the researchers discovered that individuals consumed higher amounts of total calories, polyunsaturated fat, potassium, dietary fibre, and total carbohydrates on days when they ate dried fruit.
“In our study, people who consumed dried fruits had a higher calorie intake but a lower BMI and waist circumference which suggests they were more physically active,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, Evan Pugh University Professor of Nutritional Sciences. “So, when incorporating dried fruits, pay attention to calories and be sure to substitute out calories from low-nutrient foods for dried fruits to get the greatest benefit of eating dried fruits.”
Muzi Na, Broadhurst Career Development Professor for the Study of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and David N. Proctor, professor of kinesiology and physiology also participated in this work.
Materials provided by Penn State. Original written by Katie Bohn. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Valerie K. Sullivan, Muzi Na, David N. Proctor, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Kristina S. Petersen. Consumption of Dried Fruits Is Associated with Greater Intakes of Underconsumed Nutrients, Higher Total Energy Intakes, and Better Diet Quality in US Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2016.. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.085
Penn State. “Eating dried fruit may be linked with better diet quality and health markers.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201124150849.htm>.
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