Dried fruit is a common item in vending machines, especially when healthy snacks are requested. Most people assume dried fruit is good for you because, well, it's fruit! But is it healthy? Some argue it is, while others swear it's nothing more than candy. The answer, however, is not as simple as a 'yes' or a 'no.'
First, Is Dried Fruit Actually Fruit?
Dried fruit is fruit that's had most of the water content is removed from it, either naturally, or through a dehydration process. The most common types include:
There are other varieties, such as mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and apples, but they're often coated in sugar prior to the drying process. This is where things get a little gray in respect to whether or not dried fruit is healthy for you.
The Good, The Bad & The Tasty
Dried fruit is packed with micro-nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. In fact, the dehydration process causes some nutrients to become more concentrated.
According to a 2005 study in the Journal of the American College in Nutrition, antioxidants in dried cranberries, grapes, and plums are twice as potent as those in the fresh fruits.
But what makes dried fruit unhealthy is when it's dowsed in sugar. For example, one cup of fresh cranberries has 4 grams of sugar, while a cup of dried cranberries contains up to 70 grams. You might get plenty of antioxidants, but you'll also consume way too much sugar, and too much sugar is bad for you.
The good news is that there are healthier dried fruits, so even if you bought a pack from your office vending machine, it likely contains a good mix.
The Healthiest Dried Fruit:
Raisins are high in fiber and contain many vitamins and minerals.
Prunes, which are dehydrated plumbs, are also high in fiber as well as potassium.
Dates are also a good source of potassium, an essential mineral that helps build muscle and regulate your blood pressure.
Dried fruit can be good for you, as they're full of essential vitamins and minerals. Just pay attention to how much sugar they contain.