I’ll admit, I always thought that dried fruit was bad for you because, well, it tastes a bit like candy — i.e. too delicious to have any real health benefits. However, new research suggests that dried fruit may improve our overall health by filling some pretty important nutritional gaps in our diets.
Dried Fruit Isn’t Bad for You
Findings from the new study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, revealed that people who eat dried fruit regularly had a “higher quality diet” compared to those who didn’t eat fruit (fresh or dried). This means that they were more likely to eat enough nutrients that are considered to be under-consumed in the standard American diet, like fiber and potassium.
The researchers set out to determine whether dried fruits could help fill nutritional gaps and improve diet quality. They performed an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and estimated the average dried fruit intake of about 25,000 subjects through a dietary recall.
According to the data, around seven percent of the subjects ate dried fruit. From the data collected, the researchers were able to conclude that those who ate it had overall higher-quality diets compared to subjects who did not. What’s even more notable was that dried fruit eaters also showed to have lower body mass indexes, waist circumferences, and systolic blood pressures than their counterparts.
The Fruit Debate
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there on fruit intake. Many diet gurus suggest that fruit should be avoided since it contains high amounts of sugar, which may contribute to conditions like high blood sugar and diabetes, high cholesterol, and more.
However, fruit is a significant source of important nutrients, like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), adults following a 2,000 calorie diet should consume two cups of fresh fruit a day (which is equivalent to about one cup of dried fruit). Unfortunately, the typical American diet is often very low in fruit. In fact, some research even indicates that lack of fruit consumption is a major contributor to worldwide disease and disability! On the other hand, fruit intake has been positively associated with a decreased risk of conditions like heart disease, hypertension, and even type 2 diabetes.
So at the end of the day, this deliciously sweet treat might not be the forbidden fruit after all! If you’re concerned about your sugar intake, just be sure to watch your portions. If you limit yourself to one cup per day, you can be sure that you’re doing something great for your health.