Why dried fruit is not a healthy snack

By Megan (Nutritionist + Recipe Developer) |

I Quit Sugar - The truth about fruit

  • Dried fruit has the water removed, concentrating the sugars.
  • Half a cup of fresh cranberries contains 2g of sugar; 1/2 cup of dried cranberries contains a whopping 37g, or 9 teaspoons, of sugar.
  • No one eats one or two dried apricots; they eat a handful, equating to five or six pieces of fruit!

Let’s be clear: I Quit Sugar isn’t anti-fruit. We advocate eating whole pieces of fresh fruit (about one to two pieces a day), being mindful of our consumption of our high fructose fruits such as bananas. Indeed, first and foremost we preach a “whole foods” approach to eating – we JERF. So why doesn’t dried fruit fit the picture?

Dried fruit contains preservatives.
Dried fruit is typically covered in preservatives, including the most troublesome variety – sulphites. These can cause horrible digestive and respiratory problems and many kids don’t tolerate them well.

And rancid oils too.
Polyunsaturated oils such as vegetable and sunflower oil are also added to most dried fruit to stop it sticking together. These bad oils are unstable and can easily turn rancid.

Dried fruit has the water removed, concentrating the sugars.

Then, of course, there is the sugar issue.
Fresh fruit contains lots of fluid, which fills us up. Dried fruit, on the other hand, is stripped of its water content, concentrating the sugar. To put this in perspective:

1/2 cup of fresh cranberries contains 2g of sugar; 1/2 cup of dried cranberries contains 37g sugar.

Do you dehydrate your own fruit? Although these don’t contain added sugar, oil and preservatives, the sugar issue still exists.

There’s no stopping at one.

No one eats one or two dried apricots; they eat a handful, which is like eating five or six pieces of fruit!

The concentrated sugars in dried fruit are sucrose, a mix of glucose and fructose, but it’s the fructose we’re concerned with. Fructose doesn’t send alarm bells to the brain to say you’re full. It fails to stimulate – and, indeed, blocks – appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin. This is why we don’t stop at 1–2 apricot halves or one scoop of ice cream. We’ve covered how sugar mucks with our appetite mechanism before.

Plus, it’s hard to digest.
The lack of water in dried fruit concentrates not only sugar, but fiber as well. Fibre and water exist together in nature to help digest foods properly. Without water, dried fruit is hard to push through the gut and can cause some un-wanted problems. Also, the addition of preservatives and oils can also cause digestive distress – a triple whammy.

What do we at IQS recommend? We avoid all dried fruit and only choose whole, fresh and unprocessed fruit in every instance. IQS also prefers low fructose fruits such as berries, kiwifruit and grapefruit.

Also, Sarah recommends eating whole fruit with a source of fat or protein. Full fat yoghurt, some nut butter or a few slices of cheese with your fruit will slow down the absorption of the sugar that is present, keeping your blood sugar levels in check.

We prefer fruit that’s locally sourced but also in season, so our bodies are more receptive to the type of fruit and we will digest it even better.

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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