healthy_eatingThe concept of whether fresh fruit is better for you than dried fruit has been long debated.
And although a prune (255 calories per 100g) is in fact a plum (37 calories per 100g) that has been dried there is a difference in the nutritional and calorie content between the two. Why is that?

  • Process of drying fruit

The process of drying the fruits changes their composition somewhat, though it varies from fruit to fruit.
In most cases, the seeds, cores or casings are removed before the process of drying the flesh of the fruit begins.

  • Changes to water content

The commercial drying process will naturally remove a lot of the water from the fruit, which in turn can lead to a loss of nutrients from the fruit too.
For instance Vitamins B and C are water soluble, so when the water is removed so is much of the vitamin content.

  • Use of chemicals and sweeteners

There is often some chemicals added too (such as sulfur dioxide), in order to keep the colour in the dried fruit and stop it from spoiling.
Some companies also add some type of added sugar to the dried fruit (you need to check the label). Fruits like cranberries, which are naturally tart, are often sweetened with artificial sweeteners or sugar. Look for those sweetened with natural sweeteners like apple juice concentrate instead.

  • Size and portion control

When you compare a fresh apricot (41 calories per 100g) to its dried counterpart (275 calories per 100g), the other main difference is size.
You could easily eat 6 dried apricots – but it’s unlikely that you would sit down to eat 6 fresh apricots. The process of chewing and the experience of eating dried fruit is quite different to fresh (which makes it easy to overeat dried fruit).
But it’s not all bad news for the dried fruits. You need to look beyond just calories to decide what is best for you.

  • Benefits of dried fruits

The drying process actually increases the fibre, antioxidants, and protein content in some fruits.
Dried blueberries, for instance, have four times the amount of antioxidants than their fresh counterparts.
Fibre is important for your metabolism and for digestion. It also helps to make you feel fuller for longer (which is great news when you are trying to lose weight).
Protein aids muscle repair as well as metabolism, and again is a way to feel more satisfied for a longer period of time.
100g of fresh apricots contains 1.4g of protein and 2g of fibre; while 100g of dried apricots contains 1.9g of protein and 4.2g of fibre.
100g of fresh banana contains 1.1g of protein and 2.6g of fibre; while 100g of dried bananas contains 2.5g of protein and 10g of fibre.

  • Using dried fruits in cooking

Dried fruits are also a great way to add natural sweetness to your cooking.

  1. Dates – try our Wholemeal Date and Orange Scones.
  2. Sultanas – use these to make Healthy Oat, Apple and Sultana Bars.
  3. Dried Apricots – taste great in our Coconut and Apricot Protein Balls.
  4. You can also use dried fruits make your own healthy Trail Mix, which is a great snack when you are on the go.
  • Types of dried fruits

There are so many different types of dried fruits, and more than just the good old sultanas, dates and dried apricots.
You can get dried kiwi fruits, pineapple, cherries, strawberries, banana, paw paw and much more from selected stores (specialty nut shops often have a good selection).

  • In summary

Cal BibleThe key message here is to enjoy dried fruits, but keep an eye on your portions. Rather than sitting down to a cupful of sultanas (477 calories), consider a smaller amount such as two tablespoons of sultanas (96 calories), and enjoy them with a handful of nuts.
And remember, fruit in any form is a much better snack than a sugary biscuit or chocolate.
Check out our Calorie Bible for the complete listing of all of the popular fresh and dried fruits.
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