We are all aware of the health benefits of fruit. High in antioxidants, fibre. vitamins, and so much more, drying fruit is a great way to extend the shelf life. These shelf-stable nuggets are found sprinkled in everything- from our morning granola or yogurt to salads. Smoothie bowl anyone?

They are essential to any trail mix and seem to never go bad. They make a quick treat for those on the go and can help with making you go, as dried prunes are the #1 remedy for constipation (along with drinking more water).

Do you know what is really in your dried fruit? Ever wonder about why they never go bad or taste so sweet? Could the ingredients cause more harm than good?

3 Ingredients to Avoid in Dried Fruit:

1 // Sugar

Dried fruit contains the naturally present sugar, fructose, but did you know companies actually add sugar? Ever noticed the powdery substance on dried mango or that your dried ginger has coarse sugar on it. This stuff is basically candy. It’s important to remember: drying fruit concentrates the sugar content, often resulting in 5 or more grams of sugar vs the fresh version.  The plus side is you often eat a bit more dried fruit (because it’s so portable) which helps to add more fruits and fibre into your diet. Just watch out for how many you eat (don’t devour a whole bag of apricots) but go for just a few. Eat dried fruit with some nuts or seeds to help keep blood sugar levels balanced and feel full longer. What to buy? Go for dried fruit which is fruit juice sweetened (most often apple juice or grape juice) or better yet, opt-in for no added sugars.

2 // Sulphites

Sulfur dioxide is a commonly used preservative which keeps fruit soft and maintains it’s original colour. This also helps to maintain some of the antioxidants and extends shelf life. Sulphites can occur naturally as part of the fermentation process like in beer or wine. One obvious fruit with added sulphites is apricots. They look bright orange like they just fell off the tree and into your hand. If you’ve seen organic apricots, they’re naturally browned by the drying process and because of organic guidelines, they shouldn’t contain added sulphites. What’s the issue with sulphites? They can be triggering for those with asthma or manifest as allergic reactions (sneezing, wheezing cough, runny nose, etc.). Shockingly, the average person consumes 2-3 mg of sulphites each day and wine drinkers (even organic wine) consume up to 10 mg.¹ What to buy? Go for the organic version and read the ingredients. Some companies offer sun-dried fruit or better yet, dry your own! More information on DIY home drying: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/how-to-sun-dry-foods-yourself-three-methods/  

3 // Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a general label to describe oils used from various plants or seeds. This includes soy, safflower, canola and palm. These plants are most likely genetically modified (GMO) and contain high levels of pesticides. Additional issues with these oils is that they are often rancid because of the way they are made and stored. Vegetable oils are made using high levels of heat and are chemically deodorized for a neutral flavour. Rancid oils leads to an increase of inflammation in the body because our body responds to foreign invaders (rancid oils) and triggers the immune system to protect you, thus increasing inflammation. Oils are added to dried fruit to help keep them stay soft and not sticking to each other. Have you ever noticed how shiny dried fruit is? That’s the oil!    What to buy? Check what oils were used via the ingredient list. Often sun-dried and organic dried fruit don’t contain any added oils.

 

[1] Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.

Lindsay Gamester

Certified Nutritional Practitioner & Yoga Teacher

Lindsay is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, with a passion for whole body/mind care. She believes that supporting wellness through nutrition is more than following a diet. Lindsay's years as a yoga teacher and mindfulness practitioner lead to a compassionate multi-dimensional approach to your health and wellness.

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