Fresh fruit comes packaged as nature intended and therefore it contains all the
vitamins, minerals, fibre, phytochemicals and antioxidants you might expect.
Fruit also contains water — and lots of it.
An apple for example is approximately 85% water and grapefruits, water melons
and strawberries all contain over 90% water by weight.
This water content can not only contribute to your daily fluid requirement but it also
adds bulk and volume to the fruit which helps to make you feel satisfied and full –
a real plus point for anyone looking to control their weight.
As the name suggests, dried fruits have had most of their water content removed.
This, in effect, concentrates the remaining nutrients into a smaller volume
which is why dried fruits, weight for weight, are often richer in fibre, iron
and other key vitamins and minerals.
However, this also means dried fruits will also be richer in calories and sugar.
This is partly due to the concentrated nature of dried fruits but also
because some dried fruits have sugar added during the drying process.
This reduction in overall volume plus the increase in calories and sugar
content means that, if you are watching your weight, you will need to
keep a keen eye on the quantity of dried fruits you consume.
The drying process varies from fruit to fruit but several dried fruits are also
treated with sulphur dioxide as it helps to preserve colour and flavour.
There is little evidence to suggest this is hazardous to most people however
it can cause skin rashes, stomach upsets and asthma attacks in some susceptible people.
Sulfur dioxide also eliminates the Vitamin B1 or thiamine content within the fruit
which in itself is not too much or a problem as vitamin B1 is fairly readily available
in foods so a deficiency of this vitamin is rare.
Fruits that are dried without the use of sulfur dioxide are often less appealing to look at
though as they tend to be more discoloured.
For example, apricots dried without the use of sulphur dioxide tend to be brown
and far less appetizing to look at than those treated with sulfur dioxide which are
likely to retain more of their original orange colour and shape.
If in doubt, select organic dried fruits wherever possible as
these will not have had sulfur dioxide added.
The drying process can also deplete other valuable water soluble nutrients such as
vitamin C and other B vitamins. However, eaten in smaller quantities to avoid excess calorie
and sugar consumption dried fruits still make a really, excellent alternative
to most other commercially prepared snacks.
So, in short, as long as you don’t over do it, most dried fruits are
a healthy, convenient and nutritious snack.
However, fresh fruits are likely to be richer in immune boosting vitamin C
if weight loss is your goal, their high water content will help with hunger control,
helping you to feel fuller for longer.