The useful dried fruits of our table. Dried fruits are a favorite of many people and are often present at the festive table, and a wide variety of them can be found on the market, offered in bulk or packed, whole fruits or chopped. The truth is that the information about the benefits of dried fruits is quite contradictory – there are claims that they are a great healthy alternative to dessert and those that determine dried fruit to be no better than candy, for example.

dried fruits
Dried fruits, which are stored incorrectly and processed, can be contaminated with mold, aflatoxins and other harmful compounds.

What are dried fruits?

These are fruits where almost all of the water content is removed by drying methods. During this specific process, they contract, leaving a small, energy-dense, dry fruit. Raisins are the most common type, followed by dates, plums, figs and apricots. Other types of dried fruits are also available, sometimes with sugar coating – mango, pineapple, papaya, cranberries, bananas and apples.

Dried fruits contain micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants, making them highly nutritious – By weight they contain up to 3-5 times more fiber, vitamins and minerals than fresh ones. Therefore, one serving can provide a large percentage of the daily recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals (such as folate). There are, however, some exceptions: for example, vitamin C content is significantly reduced when fruits are dried. Dried fruits usually contain a lot of fiber and are a great source of antioxidants, especially polyphenols (polyphenolic antioxidants are associated with health benefits such as improved blood circulation, better digestion, reduced risk of many diseases).

Health benefits of the main types of dried fruits

 Raisins – They are rich in fiber, potassium and various plant compounds that have a positive effect on the body. They have a low to average glycemic index and a low insulin index, which means they should not cause large spikes in blood sugar or insulin levels after consumption. Studies show that raisins can lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar control, and create a feeling of satiety. These factors should contribute to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

 Dried Plums – They are high in nutrients, rich in fiber, potassium, beta-carotene (Vitamin A) and Vitamin K. Known for their natural laxative effects – Recommended for relieving constipation problems. This is due to their high fiber and sugar content, called sorbitol, which is found naturally in some fruits. As a great source of antioxidants, prunes can inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and help prevent heart disease.

 Tuyere – They are incredibly sweet and are a great source of fiber, potassium, iron and several plant compounds. Of all dried fruits, dates are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, helping to reduce oxidative damage to the body. They have a low glycemic index, which means that their consumption should not significantly increase blood sugar levels.

Since water has been removed from them, this concentrates all the sugar and calories in a much smaller volume, therefore their content is much higher (both glucose and fructose). An example of the natural sugar content of dried fruits:

Raisins: 59%. Tuyere: 64-66%. Plums: 38%. Apricots: 53%. Figs: 48%.

Ordinary dried fruits contain about 38-66% sugar and consuming large amounts of them can contribute to weight gain and various health problems. In order to enjoy the health benefits of dried fruits, we need to exercise caution and care.

To make some dried fruits even sweeter and more attractive, they are covered with added sugar or syrup before they are dried (also called “candied” fruit). Sugar added has repeatedly been shown to have a detrimental effect on health, increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and other problems. To avoid such dried fruits, always check for the ingredients and nutrient information listed on the package.

Dried fruits can contain sulphites, be contaminated with mold and toxins – Some manufacturers add preservatives called sulphites to their dried fruits. This makes the dried fruits look more juicy, retain them for longer and prevent discoloration.