If you follow me on Instagram or read my blog regularly, you may know that I follow the 80:20 rule when it comes to diet. I try to eat healthy most of the time and treat myself 20% of the time. I love planning my meals and cooking but sometimes it can be hard to find really healthy snacks.
A lot of snacks I find in grocery stores fall into the highly processed category. I want to feel energized and good after a snack but “healthy” pre-processed snacks usually don’t make me feel like that.
Several girls who also try to be healthy, asked me if dried fruit was a healthy option for on-the-go snacking. Here’s what you need to know.
In theory, dried fruit is exactly what it sounds like—fresh fruit dried under a low temperature until most of the moisture gets removed from the fruit.
Almost any fruit can be dried. We’re talking apples, apricots, plums, grapes, pineapple, and even cranberries!
But there are different quality standards. Some dried fruit is air and sun-dried and packaged without the use of preservatives and chemicals.
Others are filled with sugar to offset bitterness or candied, which then makes it unhealthy.
So, be mindful when reading the label and pay attention to added ingredients!
But assuming you get high-quality, no preservative, no-sugar-added dried fruit, is it healthy?
If you’re looking for a way to satisfy your sweet tooth without reaching for processed sugar, candy, or other high-calorie treats, dried fruit can be a great option. Dried fruit is much better than candy or soft drink.
Dried fruit contains all the vitamins and nutrients found in whole fresh fruit.
They’re full of fiber and antioxidants which means they’re nutritional powerhouses.
I talk a lot about why high-fat processed food is bad. It leaves you feeling bloated, ruins your caloric intake for the day, and can even make cravings for junk food worse.
Dried fruit is naturally low in fat.
When you eat processed and sugary foods, your body’s blood sugar levels spike quickly. This is what gives you that feeling of energy and alertness.
But with every spike comes a crash and when that happens, you’ll feel lethargic.
Dried fruit, though full of sugar, is relatively low on the glycemic index.
This means your body processes the sugar differently. And it does so without causing a spike in blood sugar levels.
You’ll experience a more sustained energy burst without the crash that’s so common with other foods.
As with all foods, there are some cons to eating dried fruit.
Keep in mind that the benefits far outweigh the downsides. But it’s important that you know what you’re getting into.
OK, so dried fruit is great because it will boost your fibre intake and keep you full for longer, but they are also high in sugar and calories, and can cause problems if you eat too much.
You need to be mindful of the calories in each serving. It’s easy to overdo it and consume more than you meant to.
Sulphites are a type of preservative used by large-scale dried fruit producers. It’s used to keep the fruit looking fresh and preserves the color of each piece during the drying process.
For example, natural (unsulphured) dried apricots differs from sulphured apricots in colour.
You know how most store bought apricots are orange? Well, that means they have been treated with sulphites. If dried apricots are light brown to dark brown, it means they have been dried naturally, under the sunlight.
In small quantities, sulphites are relatively harmless. But they can cause problems for some people, including bloating.
In fact, if you have asthma or other upper respiratory conditions, sulphites put you at risk for major breathing complications.
In other instances, the sulphites also contain toxic compounds, mould, and fungi. These can wreak havoc on your health.
The best way to enjoy the benefits of dried fruit while avoiding the few cons is to watch the brands you buy and read the ingredients list.
Check the ingredients label for ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup or sulphites. Also look for phrases like “sweetened with fruit juice” and check for juices in the ingredients label.
These ingredients hide the bitterness in the fruit, but they also add a ton of calories to each serving. And they increase your risk of blood sugar spikes.
If possible, choose a brand that uses organic fruit. These will be free of standard pesticides and potentially harmful chemicals.
Also avoid packages that market their fruit as “candied.” These products are exactly that—candy. They might be tasty, but they’re a major calorie bomb!
If you or your family members have upper respiratory conditions, look for dried fruit that’s sulphite-free. It’s harder to find brands that don’t add sulphites since they’re harmless for most people. But it can be done.
If you’re feeling industrious and aren’t afraid to experiment a bit in the kitchen, you can always try making it yourself!
Dried fruit can help your weight loss efforts as long as you eat it in moderation. Dried fruit can be very in high calories. But just keep in mind that it’s what you eat over the entire day that matters when losing weight.
Dried apricots are a great mid-afternoon snack to tide you over between lunch and dinner. They’re rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium which can help you stay focused during the workday.
Good digestion is a key part of any weight loss routine. And prunes help your body break down food and get rid of waste.
Just make sure to eat them sparingly. Overdoing it can leave you rushing to the bathroom.
If you’re looking for an all-natural way to satisfy your sweet tooth, dates won’t disappoint. They’re super sweet, but they’re also packed with vitamin B5.
This can help you avoid that mid-afternoon energy crash, giving you more energy to stay on top of your calorie burning workout routine.
Dried fruit is a great and healthy snack especially when you’re busy or on-the-go. Just remember to eat it in moderation.
And make sure to eat a diet rich in other vegetables, fresh fruit, and lean proteins. This will give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Hope you found this blog post useful!
Love Rachael xx