Dried Fruit: The pros and cons to packaged sweetness
Part of a healthy, balanced diet includes the consumption of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables. Dried fruit might seem like a handy snack to meet this dietary recommendation. This snack consists of fruit in which the water has been removed by a dehydrator or naturally from the sun. Apricots, cranberries, raisons, dates…. are just a few on the list. Sometimes they’re coated in a spice or sugar for added taste, such as dried mangoes with chili pepper. There are pros and cons to this selection. You be the judge whether you decide to reach for fresh or dried next time you have some.
Fans of dried fruit love its sweet taste, the no mess, how convenient for on-the-go it is, and the long shelf life. Dried fruit outlives and fresh type. We find these snack packs in vending machines, at the airport, while we are checking out at the grocery store, and at gas stations. Seems like a good alternative to a candy bar when the options are limited. Dried fruit is nutritious in the sense that it is just compacted fruit. It actually contains close to 3 ½ times the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber compared to fresh fruit. It is a great source of antioxidants.
Sugar, sugar, sugar. Dried fruit can contain up to three times the amount of sugar compared to fresh fruit. No wonder it is so tasty. Ever heard the word “fructose”?? Well that is the very sugar hiding in dried fruit. When we have extra fructose in the body, the liver converts it to VLDL. This is the bad cholesterol that is high in triglycerides. The health consequences of high triglycerides include heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For example, let’s take a look at popular dried cranberries. Topped on a salad or part of your trail mix, it seems like an added healthy bonus. Wrong. One cup of fresh cranberries has 4 grams of sugar. One cup of dried cranberries has 70 grams. That equates to one bag of M&Ms. This raises the calorie content as well. In general, dried fruit has twice the calories and carbohydrates as fresh fruit. While all these no-no’s are added, calcium is subtracted as a result of the drying process.
The freedom of choice
What we perceive to be healthy doesn’t always equate to be true and this can be reflected by our fitness results. Clean eating involves fresh choices. Mother nature is the only additive. It’s probably a good idea to not eat anything with ingredients we are unable to pronounce. Real fruit doesn’t come with a label. We are also misled to believe that the bag of dried apricots was one serving, when really it was 2 or more which is another indication that we neglect labels and are not fully aware of what is being put in our bodies and how much. It is easy to justify once bad choice over the other by reaching for a package of dried fruit instead of the candy bar. The truth is that a fresh apple can fit in your purse or bag too. Such a tiny snack pack wrecks quite the damage on the waistline. We are told to always stay hydrated, and this seems like good advice for our fruit too.
Orange juice is a breakfast favorite and comes in different varieties. This liquid extract can come from blood oranges, Valencia oranges, navel oranges, tangerine, or clementines. Some types include more pulp than others. Drinking orange juice can be just a beneficial as eating an entire orange, provided it is not loaded with preservatives, sugar, and additives.
The trouble is that just one cup of this juice contains quite a bit of sugar and carbohydrates, which might be why it can jump start a person’s day. One cup of orange juice contains about 26 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of sugar. Quite a bit for a small amount and not everyone is sticking to one cup per serving. The flip side is that this juice is loaded with vitamin C, up to 120%. Some might argue that the health benefits of this beverage are worth a little added sugar. Orange juice can reduce signs of aging, boost immunity, detoxify the body, boost metabolism, boost cellular repair, improve circulation, improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. The key is how the juice is prepared.
Besides being packed with vitamin C, orange juice contains thiamin, vitamin A, fiber, folate, potassium, copper, magnesium, protein, thiamine, flavonoids. Vitamin C is a primary antioxidant in the body that destroys free radicals before they can do damage to the body. Vitamin A is another type of antioxidant that helps to detoxify the body. It increases the function of the kidneys and is also beneficial to eye health.
It is important to avoid frozen orange juice, canned orange juice, or concentrated orange juice, because they are all loaded with preservatives. The content of these juices is far different from the fresh squeezed type. Too much of any good thing can be harmful. Orange juice is high on the glycemic index which means drinking quite a bit at once can really raise blood sugar levels. This can cause complications for diabetics and pre-diabetics. The best way to reap the benefit of oranges is to eat a whole orange. Manufacturers often add chemicals to their juices in order to replenishes the loss of nutritive values from mass production.
The connotation of juice is healthy. It is assumed to be the same as eating the actual fruit. However, in today’s world of mass production and longer shelf life, we are ingesting and digesting more chemicals than ever. If what we ate was fresh, it should be consumed right away. Yet in a world of expiration dates and false advertising, we look for the best value for the largest amount, that will last the longest. Orange juice was never meant to be purchased under these considerations.