Dried Fruits: More Than Just Raisins

For many of us, the term “dried fruit” is practically synonymous with raisins. But nowadays, so many more dried fruits are available that it seems unfair to ignore them. Most well-stocked grocery stores carry some or all of the following fruits in dried form: apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, pears, papayas, persimmons, pineapples, and plums (prunes).

Dried vs. Fresh Fruits: Quick Comparison

Compared to their fresh counterparts, dried fruits have a longer shelf life; the removal of water means bacteria cannot thrive and any enzymes (that would otherwise break down the flesh of the fruit) become inactive. The other main difference is the higher caloric and nutrient content per serving of dried fruit compared to fresh. Generally speaking, dried fruits will have more carbohydrate, fiber, and other nutrients per serving. However, there is an exception: dried fruits contain no water-soluble vitamins (such as the B vitamins or Vitamin C) because these vitamins are destroyed when the fruit is dried. If any packaged dried fruits you eat have a high Vitamin C content on the nutrition label, the vitamin has most likely been added back after processing.

The following compares the nutritional values of some fruits fresh and dried (Per 1/2 cup servings):

Fresh Apricot

  • 40 kcal
  • 9 g carbohydrate
  • 2 g fiber
  • 214 mg potassium

Dried Apricot

  • 157 kcal
  • 41 g carbohydrate
  • 5 g fiber
  • 755 mg potassium

Fresh Apples

  • 57 kcal
  • 15 g carbohydrate
  • 3 g fiber
  • 118 mg potassium

Dried Apples

  • 209 kcal
  • 58 g carbohydrate
  • 8 g fiber
  • 387 mg potassium

Fresh Figs

  • 83 kcal
  • 21 g carbohydrate
  • 3 g fiber
  • 260 mg potassium

Dried Figs

  • 186 kcal
  • 48 g carbohydrate
  • 7 g fiber
  • 507 mg potassium

Fresh Plums (Prunes)

  •  38 kcal
  • 9 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fiber
  • 130 mg potassium

Dried Plums (Prunes)

  • 209 kcal
  • 56 g carbohydrate
  • 6 g fiber
  • 637 mg potassium

Fresh Grapes (Raisins)

  • 31 kcal
  • 8 g carbohydrate
  • 0.4 g fiber
  • 88 mg potassium

Dried Grapes (Raisins)

  • 217 kcal
  • 57 g carbohydrate
  • 3 g fiber
  • 543 mg potassium

When buying dried fruits, be aware that sulphur is often added to preserve the color; read the label and choose one that does not include sulphur if you are concerned.

Using Dried Fruits

You can add chopped dried fruits to baked goods, stuffings, salads, or pilaf. Eat them straight with breakfast cereals, yogurt, or granola. For a nutritious high-energy snack that travels well, mix them with nuts.

The Bottom Line

Because dried fruits contain more minerals (like iron and potassium) per serving than fresh fruit, eating them can be a quick and easy way to boost your intake of these nutrients. On the other hand, because of the higher carbohydrate load per serving, people who are watching their total sugar intake should limit how much they consume. Finally, dried fruits are there to complement, not replace, your intake of fresh fruits, so choose fresh when possible and include dried for variation once in a while.

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