Dehydrated fruit: a sprint of energy at your fingertips! Let’s see what are the properties, benefits and also the contraindications of these foods.
Who among us is not attracted to the packages of dehydrated fruit that we find more and more frequently on supermarket shelves or in our grocery shop near the house? Surely more than someone has succumbed to the temptation to taste it and then couldn’t do without it.
Often there is confusion between dried fruit, dehydrated and dried fruit . Let’s start by saying that dehydrated fruit and dried fruit are the same thing, that is, they are fresh fruits that have been subjected to the process of dehydration by drying, that is, from which most of the water has been removed. It is possible to find dried apples, bananas, apricots, plums, figs, peaches, grapes and even exotic fruits such as pineapple, mango, papaya and various types of berries.
The term dried fruit, on the other hand, indicates oily fruit in shell, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts; the latter in fact have a considerable fat content, unlike dehydrated fruit, which instead contains a lot of sugars. Below we will see the characteristics and properties of dehydrated fruit.
Dehydrated fruit: the benefits
Certainly dehydrated fruit is very caloric, in all cases more caloric than the corresponding fresh fruit, but eating dehydrated fruit offers numerous benefits. The first immediate advantage is the fact that it is not always possible to eat fresh fruit, for example for reasons of time or because it is easily perishable so that it can always be carried with you, while dehydrated fruit gives us the opportunity to have a healthy snack even when we are not at home or we have little time.
Since, as we have just said, dried fruit has undergone a process of dehydration, it follows that for the same quantity, everything it contains (except water, of course) is present in greater quantities, that is all its nutrients are concentrated, which is why dehydrated fruit is on average more caloric than fresh fruit, in which the nutrients are more “diluted”.
So let’s see what are the benefits that dehydrated fruit can offer to our health:
- Protective effect: the dehydrated fruit protects our body because, for what has just been said, it represents a concentrate of vitamins, mineral salts and antioxidant agents, all essential compounds for the health of our body;
- Friend of the cardiovascular system: the protective role of dehydrated fruit is carried out in particular on the cardiovascular system since for example some mineral salts, such as potassium, are essential to maintain blood pressure in the norm and antioxidant agents are a valid help to protect the vessels blood and to lower bad cholesterol levels in the arteries;
- Source of fiber: in the process of dehydration of fruit the fibers are preserved and therefore are able to carry out their cleaning and protective action not only on our gastrointestinal system, but also on the cardiovascular system and on metabolism in general, since they contribute to modulate the glycemic response;
- A panacea for the bones: with its high content of mineral salts, dried fruit contributes to bone health as it has a remineralizing effect;
- Energy: it is also clear how much dehydrated fruit can constitute a quick energy source for our body to draw on when we need ready-to-use energy, i.e. after intense physical activity or when for various reasons we are debilitated and need to supplement macro and micronutrients.
The properties of the most common dehydrated fruits
It being understood that all dehydrated fruits have the properties just described, each fruit in particular has peculiar properties that derive from its nutritional composition. Let’s see what are the properties of some of the most common dehydrated fruits.
Dehydrated apricots contain mineral salts in high quantities and in particular iron, calcium, potassium and sodium and this gives them anti-anemic and remineralizing properties, so they are excellent as mineral supplements after physical activity. They are also rich in antioxidants, especially beta carotene , and vitamins, especially vitamin A and C.
While 100 grams of fresh apricots provide about 30 kcal, 100 g of dried apricots provide about 250 calories, mostly in the form of sugars, but it is also true that the latter have 10 times more fiber than the same amount of fresh apricots and the higher fiber content lowers the glycemic index . ✓ Dates Dehydrated dates are also very energetic fruits, in fact they provide about 250 kcal per 100 grams , but they are also rich in mineral salts, including iron, copper and zinc, but above all magnesium, an important mineral for muscles and the nervous system, and potassium, which is also essential for the health of the cardiovascular and muscular systems.
The laxative properties of prunes are well known, thanks to their considerable fiber content (about 7 grams per 100 grams, i.e. about a quarter of the fiber we should be taking daily). To get the same amount of fiber, we should eat 500 grams of fresh plums instead. In addition to being valid allies against constipation , dried plums offer us numerous other advantages: for example, they are rich in antioxidant compounds, they are purifying, rich in vitamins and mineral salts. They are therefore excellent for sportsmen and pregnant women.
Raisins are also excellent against constipation and are a perfect food for those who practice sports, because they are energizing and remineralizing, but above all they are a source of antioxidant compounds such as catechins and resveratrol which contribute to the health of the cardiovascular system.
Dried figs are very rich in fiber and also in mineral salts. Among the vitamins we find above all vitamin A and B1 . Its seeds also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3 and omega 6 series which are beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Compared to fresh fruit , dry fruit contains much more B vitamins and calcium, potassium and magnesium. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is significantly reduced with dehydration.
Papaya is a fruit very rich in antioxidants and vitamins and when fresh it is also low in calories. As with all dried fruit, dehydration increases its caloric content for the same quantity, but also that of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is an immune system stimulant and the papain contained in it helps digestion and facilitates weight loss.
Mango is a fruit rich in antioxidants and like all tropical fruits, vitamin C, which is why it is an anti-anemic food, that is, the vitamin C contained in it helps the absorption of iron, a mineral of which the mango is rich. Among the antioxidant agents there is lupeol, which seems to exert its benefits in particular on the prostate by acting as an anti-inflammatory. Being an easily perishable fruit and which must necessarily be imported, it is worth eating it dehydrated to take advantage of its properties.
✓ Goji berries
Goji berries are known for their extraordinary beneficial properties, which are expressed above all in the dehydrated version. They are in fact anti-inflammatory, support the immune system, help the cardiovascular system, thanks to their content of polyphenols and anthocyanins. Fresh berries, for example, contain an amount of iron that is almost 10 times less than that of dried berries , and the same goes for potassium. The protein component also rises a lot in the case of dried fruit. On the contrary, however, vitamins C and A are found in good quantities only in fresh fruit.
The dehydrated pineapple is a fruit very rich in vitamin C and mineral salts and is particularly suitable for athletes, due to its magnesium and potassium content, as well as sugars. These minerals, in fact, more present in the dehydrated fruit than in the fresh one, are essential for the proper functioning of the muscles and the nervous system.
How to make dehydrated fruit at home and how to store it
The dehydrated fruit that we find on the market can be prepared in different ways, that is, the common principle for making it is dehydration, that is the extraction of water, but this can be obtained with different methods.
Usually drying is obtained by evaporating the water from the food after heating and heating can be achieved with exposure to hot air, or direct contact with hot surfaces, or even with the use of gas at high temperatures. Usually these processes are controlled because too high temperatures could damage the product by altering its nutritional properties.
Often in the dehydrated fruit we buy there may be food additives used as preservatives that in high doses are certainly not healthy, or added sugars, so a good alternative is to prepare dehydrated fruit at home. Let’s see how.
The first step is to clean the fruit thoroughly and dry it, to avoid microbial contamination as much as possible. There are fruits that will be cut into slices and fruits that we will have to leave whole. For example, figs should be left whole or divided in half, as well as apricots and berries, mango, papaya and pineapple should be cut into slices.
For drying, a good method is the traditional one, which consists in exposing the fruit to the sun. To dry the fruit in the sun it is necessary to place it on a tray or a grid, making sure that it is sufficiently extended so that the pieces of fruit do not touch each other. The fruit must then be placed in a sunny but at the same time quite ventilated place. It is also necessary to turn the pieces of fruit from time to time. We can use this method in the hot season and it will take a few days, usually about a week.
In winter, however, we can use the heat of the oven, but at moderate temperatures, around 40 degrees, for a few hours. Also in this case it is advisable to arrange the fruit so that there is no contact between one piece and another.
Another method, certainly less economical, is to have an electric dryer, a sort of oven that works at low temperatures but for a long time. In any case, the fundamental ingredient will be patience, because we will have to wait from many hours to a few days to taste our fruit, but the result will be worth it!
Once we have obtained our dried fruit, we can store it in airtight glass containers in cool and dry places and away from light. In this way it is possible to preserve dried fruit from 6 months to a year.
Dehydrated fruit: how to use it and how much to eat
There are many ways in which we can take advantage of the beneficial and organoleptic properties of dehydrated fruit: we can also enjoy them mixed as a snack in one of our daily breaks, or make our breakfast energetic and tasty by adding it to cold milk or yogurt, or even make some desserts in which their use can partially or completely replace sugar. The berries are also well suited to accompany rich salads or white meat main courses.
If we want to benefit from all the healthful properties of dehydrated fruit, however, we will have to be careful with the portions, as in inadequate doses these foods can become calorie bombs! The recommended average daily portion of dehydrated fruit for a healthy person is about 40 grams, included in a balanced diet and accompanied by moderate physical activity.
Does dehydrated fruit make you fat?
For what has just been said, if we do not know how to manage wisely the intake of dehydrated fruit, given the high caloric value and the high sugar content, it will certainly make us gain weight. If, on the other hand, we want to benefit from the innumerable properties of these foods without damaging our line, as with all things, we will not have to exaggerate in the quantities and methods of consumption. On the contrary, eating dehydrated fruit can also help us lose weight, because we can use it as a “hunger-breaker” food.
The fibers that dried fruit contains can help us gain a sense of fullness. Let us always remember to drink a good glass of water when we eat it, also to avoid that when the fruit reaches the intestine, it recalls water, running the risk of intestinal disorders. Physical activity will then be essential to allow us to enjoy dehydrated fruit even every day without risking gaining weight. Below is a summary table on the caloric content of the main dehydrated fruits.
|Fruit:||Calories / 100gr:|
|Dehydrated apricots||250 Kcal|
|Dehydrated pineapple 269 Kcal||269 Kcal|
|Goji berries||349 Kcal|
|Dehydrated coconut||669 Kcal|
|Dehydrated dates||250 Kcal|
|Dried figs||282 Kcal|
|Dried mango||319 Kcal|
|Dehydrated papaya||296 Kcal|
|Dried plums||236 Kcal|
Who should limit their consumption?
Of course, we must consider that in the process of dehydration the fruit has lost water and therefore has concentrated, together with all the nutrients, even the sugars. Those who have problems in managing glucose will therefore have to pay particular attention to the use of dehydrated fruit, which must be done occasionally and in moderate doses.
Even those suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases should be careful as the high content of fibers and sugars could irritate the walls of the intestine even more.