The benefits—and pitfalls—of dried fruit

Health Q & A with Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O. 

From the January 2020 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

Q: What does the [Mediterranean] diet say about dried fruits? Thank you for your nonstop issuance of useful information!

A: Great question! According to the Mediterranean Diet food pyramid, a serving of dried fruit is one-quarter cup. Depending on the specific fruit, the calorie count per one-quarter cup serving may be anywhere from 100-160 calories.

Opinions range from singing the praises to decrying the evils of dried fruit. As with many dietary options, much depends on moderation and quality.

Because dried fruit has the same structure without water as it does before drying (unless it was dried at a temperature greater than 105-110 F, which is not typically the case), I think I can safely suggest that, as it relates to nutritional benefits, dried fruit should be treated similarly to whole fruits.

However, while nutritional content is similar to fresh fruit, dried fruit comes in a much more concentrated package. It’s important to recognize that the sugar content can be as much as two to five times that of fresh fruit. Therefore, take great care not to overeat dried fruit; calories add up quickly. Moderation is key.

Depending on how the fruit is processed and packaged, it may have added sugar or preservatives that reduce its health benefits. Although it looks pretty, brightly-colored dried fruit may be an indication that preservatives such as sulfites have been used. Such preservatives may affect a significant number of people, especially those with asthma. One of the advantages of dried fruit is that it can be stored at room temperature for a longer time than fresh fruit. However, even though it has been dried, it’s still important to be aware of freshness. If it has been improperly handled or stored for too long, dried fruit may be tainted with fungi or other toxins.

Bottom line: Enjoy—in moderation — your no added-sugar and preservative-free dried fruit.

Please note: My office requires a one-week turnaround for medical information. If you have an acute or emergency medical incident, please seek immediate medical attention.

If you have a health question for Dr. Jacobson, CHM Medical Director, please email it to doc@chministries.org. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.

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