Is Dried Fruit As Nutritious As Fresh Fruit?
Whether it's fresh or dried, fruit is nutritious. Both are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, drying the fruit concentrates many of the nutrients as well as the calories. The drying process may also cause fruit to lose some of the more volatile nutrients, such as vitamin C.
One plum has 30 calories, while one dried plum -- a prune -- has 23 calories. At face value, it may look like prunes make the better choice. But when looking at the larger size of a plum versus the shrunken size of the prune, you may think differently.
Plums have a lower energy density than prunes. That means they’re low in calories compared to their volume. Prunes, on the other hand, are a high energy-dense food, which also means they’re not as filling. People who eat more low energy-dense foods, like the fresh plum, tend to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.
Comparing the Nutrients
When comparing one plum to one prune or one grape to one raisin, the vitamin, mineral and fiber content isn’t all that different. But when comparing by household measures, the dried fruit is a much better source of a number of health-promoting nutrients.
One cup of raisins, for example, is a much better source of fiber, potassium and copper than a cup of grapes. Dried apricots are a better source of certain nutrients than fresh apricots, including vitamin A, B vitamins, iron and potassium. However, raisins, prunes and dried apricots are not a better of a source of vitamin C than their fresh versions. That’s because vitamin C degrades during heat processing and over time. Because the water is removed, the dried fruits are significantly higher in calories than the fresh fruits -- 430 calories in a cup of raisins versus 60 calories in cup of grapes or 380 calories in a cup of dried apricots versus 75 in a cup of fresh halves.
Why You Need to Eat Fruit
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say that if you’re eating a 2,000-calorie diet you should aim for about 2 cups of fresh fruit or 1 cup of dried fruit a day. Making sure you meet your daily fruit needs, whether as fresh fruit or dried, may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. And, as potassium-rich foods, fruits may also help lower blood pressure and prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Dried Fruit Tips
In addition to being a little more careful with portion sizes so you don't overdo it on calories, you may also want to take a look at the ingredients list of your dried fruit. Unlike fresh fruit, the dried versions may contain more than the fruit listed on the front of the package. Some kinds -- like pineapple and papaya -- contain added sugar. Or there may be additives, such as sulfur, which is used to retain color in apricots.