We all know that dehydrated fruit is a great tasting and nutritious snack. So nutritious, in fact, that one may be tempted to indulge excessively.
But soldiers in the dehydrated fruit revolution should be aware of the calories in dried fruit and its potential belt busting effects. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the caloric content of fruit that has been dehydrated is approximately twice that of the fresh version.
Although this value (2x) is not the rule for every fruit; some fruits, such as dried blueberries, contain nearly triple the calories.
There are several reasons for the increased calories in dried fruit. Let’s take a dehydrated apricot. Once dried the apricot is a mere fraction of the size of the original, fresh apricot. A handful may take up about the same amount of physical space as a whole apricot. And not surprisingly the handful of dried apricots is equivalent to eating three or four whole, fresh apricots.
Exasperating the issue, the handful of dried apricots is also less filling due to the lack of water content. As for calories, one cup of fresh apricot halves has approximately 74 calories. A cup of dried apricot halves contains more than four times that amount, 313 calories.
If you compare them, the caloric totals even out. One raw apricot has 16.8 calories, and two dried halves equal the exact same amount of calories. The serving size may be different, but the number of calories remains the same.
For some store purchased dried fruits such as cranberries the numbers can be much worse. Dried cranberries are typically sprayed with sugar solutions before drying. Without that added sugar, the dried cranberries would be as tart as the fresh variety and likely wouldn’t attract many unsuspecting buyers.
The added sugar allows the dried cranberry to be a snack, as well as a delicious addition to salads, cereals, yogurts, and many recipes where fresh cranberries may not produce the same flavor.
One cup of fresh cranberries has 44 calories; one-fourth cup of dried, processed cranberries has 90. (360 Calories for a full cup)
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, one cup of grapes has about 104 calories, and a cup of raisins has over 434 calories. This doesn’t happen because the raisin company added sugar, it happens because the raisins take up a lot less space than the fully hydrated fresh grapes. If you look at the calorie content of grapes verses raisins by pieces of fruit, then the database shows ten grapes have 34 calories and ten raisins have 16 calories.
Nutritional Value of Dried Fruits
As a snack, dried fruit is vastly superior to junk foods, such as potato chips, pretzels, candy bars, and other unhealthy indulgences people reach for when they are hungry between meals. Dried fruit contains no fat, cholesterol, or sodium. It also helps to sweeten bland food without adding refined sugars.
Small bits of dried fruit can be added to plain yogurt, oatmeal, or wholegrain breakfast cereal, making it more palatable to young children – and others who would not be able to stomach such foods otherwise.
Dried fruits are also a food of convenience. Because the fruit is much smaller when dehydrated, it can be taken in backpacks without adding a lot of extra weight. Dried fruit is perfect for long car trips. Fresh fruits in the car tend to be messy and leave peels, pits, and cores to throw away. Dried fruit takes up less room, and will ensure the family is getting something good.
In spite of the increased calorie content and decreased levels of nutrition compared to fresh fruit, dried fruit can still be considered a healthy snack. Enjoy dried fruits in moderation.