Eating dried fruit linked to better diet quality, health

November 26, 2020 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Eating dried fruit linked to better diet quality, health

Don't be afraid to toss a handful of raisins or dried apples in your holiday stuffing this year. A new Penn State study has found that dried fruit may be connected with better health.

The researchers found that people who ate dried fruit were generally healthier than those who did not, and on days when people ate dried fruit they consumed greater amounts of some key nutrients than on days when they skipped. However, they also found that people consumed more total calories on days when they ate dried fruit.

Previous research has found that poor diet contributes to deaths from cardiovascular disease, with a lack of fruit being a major factor. According to the researchers, fruit provides plenty of nutrients, including fibre, potassium and several heart-healthy phytochemicals.

About the study

The researchers examined whether dried fruit could be a healthy alternative to fresh fruit.

For the study, the team used data on 25,590 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants provided data about all the foods they had consumed in the previous 24 hours, including dried fruit.

Data were also gathered about participants' cardiometabolic health, including body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure, as well as their overall diet quality.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that, on average, people who reported consuming dried fruit had healthier diets than those who did not. They also tended to have lower body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure.

Because some of the participants reported eating dried fruit on one day of the survey but not the second, the researchers were also able to examine what people's diet looked like on days they ate dried fruit versus days when they didn't.

On days when dried fruit was not eaten, 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.

The researchers also found that on days participants ate dried fruit, they consumed more total carbohydrates, dietary fibre, potassium, heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat and overall total calories.

Bottom line

The findings suggest that dried fruit can be part of a healthy diet -- with some caveats.

Dried fruit can be a great choice for a nutritious snack, but be sure you’re choosing unsweetened versions without added sugar. Portion size can also be tricky, since 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.

People who consumed dried fruits had a higher calorie intake but a lower BMI and waist circumference which suggests they were more physically active.

Minimally processed forms of fruit, including dried fruit, have some advantages over fresh fruits. 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.

Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, October 28, 2020.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.