Don’t be afraid to toss a handful of raisins or dried apples in your Thanksgiving stuffing this year.
In a new study, researchers found that dried fruit may be connected with better health.
They found that people who ate dried fruit were generally healthier than those who did not, and on days when people ate dried fruit, they consumed greater amounts of some key nutrients than on days when they skipped.
The findings suggest that dried fruit can be part of a healthy diet—with some caveats.
The research was conducted by a team at Penn State.
Previous research has found that poor diet contributes to nearly half of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the U.S., with a lack of fruit being a major factor.
According to the researchers, fruits provide an abundance of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and several heart-healthy bioactives.
However, despite these benefits, other studies have found that people may not eat enough fruit for a number of reasons—including limited availability, cost, and the fact that it can spoil quickly, among others.
In the current study, the researchers wanted to examine whether dried fruit could be a healthful alternative to fresh fruit since it could be cheaper.
They used data on 25,590 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Participants provided data about all the foods they had consumed in the previous 24 hours, including dried fruit.
The researchers found that on average, people who reported consuming dried fruit in the survey had healthier diets than those who did not.
They also tended to have lower body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure.
However, the team also found that people consumed more total calories on days when they ate dried fruit.
The team says dried fruit can be a great choice for a nutritious snack, but consumers might want to be sure they’re choosing unsweetened versions without added sugar.
Portion sizes can also be tricky because a serving of dried fruit is smaller than a serving of fresh since the water has been taken out.
But the positive is that dried fruit can help people potentially consume more fruit because it’s portable, it’s shelf-stable, and can even be cheaper.
One author of the study is Valerie Sullivan.
The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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