Real Simple answers your questions.
Q. Do dried and fresh fruits have the same health benefits?
Alana Weiss, San Francisco
A. Yes, if you choose your dried fruits wisely. In its purest form, dried fruit is just fresh fruit with the water removed. Dehydration, in fact, causes some nutrients to become more concentrated. A 2005 study in Journal of the American College of Nutrition revealed that antioxidants in dried cranberries, grapes, and plums are twice as potent as those in the fresh fruits.
But keep this in mind before launching a dried-fruit diet: A dried apricot is a fraction of the size of a fresh one, but the two pack the same number of calories and amount of sugar. “We eat with our eyes, so we’re likely to consume more pieces of dried fruit than we should,” says Chrissy Wellington, a nutritionist in Lenox, Massachusetts. A cup of fresh fruit makes up one portion. When eating dried fruit, have a smaller helping—for example, a quarter cup of raisins.
Watch for added sweeteners (sugar, corn syrup), particularly in tart fruits, like cherries and cranberries. Also, take note of the ingredient list: Only the fruit should be listed. Look for packages that say “no sulfites,” a preservative that maintains color. Dried fruit shouldn’t look like the original; while it might not be pretty, brown and shriveled is your best bet. Remember: Dried fruit is not candy, so it shouldn’t taste like it is.
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