The Truth About Dried Fruit

Elle Penner, MPH, RD
by Elle Penner, MPH, RD
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The Truth About Dried Fruit

Dried fruits can make a convenient snack or a quick way to add sweetness to a salad. But if you’ve ever wondered if dried fruits have the same nutritional benefits as fresh, the truth is: not quite.

Studies suggest dried fruits may be a good source of important nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and they may improve diet quality. But before you fill your grocery cart with dehydrated dates, here are some things to keep in mind: 

1. You may be eating more than you think.  Because the water has been removed, dried fruits carry less volume than fresh. While you probably wouldn’t eat 10 to 12 fresh apricots in one sitting, it’s actually quite easy to do with a bag of the dried stuff. Even though a dried apricot is a fraction of the size of a fresh one, the two contain the same number of calories and sugar—unless the dried apricot has been sweetened with added sugars, in which case it contains more sugar. Bringing me to point #2.

2. Dried fruits can be full of added sugars.  Dried fruit isn’t candy, so be wary if it tastes like it is. To make them more palatable, fruits may be sweetened with sugar—cranberries and pineapple are two of the biggest offenders. To cut out added sugars, dried fruits should contain only one ingredient: FRUIT!

3. Not all processing practices are the same.  Many dried fruits contain the preservative sulfur dioxide to increase shelf life. Sulfur dioxide is a problematic preservative in those with sensitivities and has been linked to stomach upset, allergic reactions, even asthma attacks. Depending on where you live, some foods may contain more than others as sulfite standards vary by country. According to the Food Intolerance Network, sulfites in foods in Australia can reach levels of 3,000 parts per million (ppm) and 2,000 ppm in Britain. In the US, there is no upper limit but foods containing more than 10 ppm must disclose this on the label. If your dried fruit has a glossy look to it, chances are it’s been coated with a bit of oil. Though it may reduce clumping during processing, the oil increases the likelihood of spoiling from oxidation.

The Takeaways 

Though they can be a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, large portion sizes, added sugars, and problematic preservatives & processing practices can quickly offset any nutritional benefits dried fruits provide.

Check the ingredient list to avoid dried fruits with added sugar, oils and sulfur, particularly if you have a known sulfur sensitivity. The simpler the ingredient list, the better they are for you—and when in doubt, fresh is always best.

About the Author

Elle Penner, MPH, RD
Elle Penner, MPH, RD

Elle is a nutrition and wellness writer, recipe developer, blogger and nutrition consultant whose favorite things include her camera, carbs and quality time with her toddler. For more from this busy mama, check out Elle’s lifestyle blog or connect with her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

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24 responses to “The Truth About Dried Fruit”

  1. crims says:

    SO2(sulfur dioixide) is soluble in water… it breaks up in water and it goes away… no need to try to scare and misinform people.

    • Doc says:

      Just because it dissolves in water doesn’t mean it’s harmless to those with sensitivities. If you actually read the article, you’d know that though.

      • Evgeni says:

        Prevalence of sulfite sensitivity is incredibly low and clinically insignificant in the majority of people that have it, you’d know that if you read a little more.

        • Tina Jo Gray says:

          My son & I have asthma and the sulfites are ALWAYS a trigger, so don’t kid yourself or misinform people.

        • Hotscotgal says:

          Sulfites in wine are a common cause of headaches AND asthma symptoms.

          • Chris says:

            Your an idiot alcohol contains so much more worse ingrediants than sulfites, let me guess when you drink too much you get a hangover?

          • kelley says:

            Wow name calling over dried fruit. My mom drinks wine on occasion. Certain wines with sulfites trigger horrible migraines. She often doesn’t finish one glass very far from a hangover. Name calling wow.

          • Joel Sluis says:

            I believe “you’re” is the word you are looking for, not “your”. And it’s ingredients, not ingrediants…who’s the idiot now? Don’t be so quick to judge, lest ye be judged.

          • Mark DiDomenico says:

            There are as many naturally occurring sulphites in fresh fruit as in a glass of wine. Most likely it’s the ethyl alcohol causing the migraines. I am not a doctor but am certified with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Meaning I get paid to drink and along the way I learn some stuff.

          • Kiwi says:

            Sounds like my kinda job 🙂

          • navydave says:

            The only better job I can think of would be a Mattress tester. 🙂

        • dj.marrillo says:

          You might feel different if you were the one suffering

      • karuna says:

        a simple fix to these sensitivities is using unrefined sea salt. Dried fruit should be USDA organic, or a known organic source, but if you use unrefined sea salt and getting the minerals your body needs, the allergy symptoms subside. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

    • dj.marrillo says:

      If you are sensative to Sulfites it does not matter if it dissolves in water it still bothers a person that is sensative. I get real
      bad asthma attacks from them. Its dangerous to tell people they go away.

  2. Beth Hayes says:

    Buy an Excalibur and dry your own fruit! It’s less expensive, maintains nutrients, and has no added sugars or preservatives.

    • Luis Gonzalez says:

      Or learn how to dry foods at a low temp in your own oven, an Excalibur can run someone at it’s cheapest 120 dollars. It’s cheaper to go with either a Ronco or Presto 5-Tray dehydrator which can typically cost around 35 dollars or as mentioned use your own oven at a low temp for multiple hours. (and to get rid of moisture most ovens nowadays have fans, so low-temp plus fan is ideal) With the money saved you can buy more foods to dehydrate!

  3. Paul Perryman says:

    i never consume more then 2oz (56g) which i like a handfull in a day.

  4. Dan says:

    Of course it’s quite easy to make your own dried fruit with a food dehydrator – slice the fruit, lay it out on the food dehydrator racks, and let it go for a day or so. Make a big batch. No need to add anything, just fruit turns out delicious.

  5. els says:

    Asthma symptoms are not something to be dismissed, they can lead to attacks and loss of life.

  6. Kaiser says:

    How do you dehydrate food in an oven? What temperature should I set it on? Where can I find more information on dehydrating fruits?

  7. karuna says:

    dried fruit is addicting. No need to eat it dried – eat it fresh, organic. No way else and you will be fine

  8. dry fruitkart says:

    Thanks for sharing this nice article. I read it completely and get some interesting knowledge from this.

    @dryfruitkart

  9. dry fruitkart says:

    Thanks for the great post with loads of helpful topics! I look forward to following your blog.
    @dryfruitkart

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