Monday, September 20

Is It a Fruit or Not?

Everyone knows that fruit is a fantastic way to get healthy, complex carbohydrates into your diet.  As long as you’re not over doing it (yes, you can over-do fruit), fruit can be an important component to regulating your blood sugar, keeping your energy up, and even keeping your sweet tooth satisfied.  Most people should be getting about 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day (a serving is a half cup, which is never as big as you think it is).
But then there is dried fruit—is dried fruit still fruit?
Dried fruit is a tricky thing, and you don’t want to treat dried fruit the same way you treat regular fruit.  The first difference is quantity.  Since dried fruit is so much smaller and lighter than its un-dried (or hydrated) counterpart, a serving size is much, much smaller.  Case and point: one cup of grapes is about 70 calories, and one cup of raisins is over 400 calories.  A serving size of dried fruit is generally about a quarter cup, but even that quarter cup is not equivalent to one serving of regular fruit.
The second big difference is that dried fruit often has added sugar.  I have a couple different salad recipes that call for dried cranberries:
40 grams of Dried Cranberries: 138 calories and 29 grams of sugar
40 grams of Cranberries: 18 calories 1 gram of sugar
The dried cranberries have 15 percent more sugar than the regular cranberries.  Although dried cranberries tend to get more added sugar than most fruits (because they’re so tart), make sure you’re checking the ingredients and nutritional info so you have a good idea of how much added sugar you’re getting.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of the water naturally in fruit.  I have a weakness for dried mango—I find it hard to stop eating.  But when I eat regular mango, I can eat a small bowl (about 6 ounces) and then feel full and satisfied.   The water in fruits helps to fill you up so that you begin to feel full before you’ve eaten more calories than you actually need.  Since dried fruits remove that water, it’s best to make sure you’re drinking water while you snack to help you not overeat.
I’ll post in the comments my favorite salad recipe using dried cranberries.  Please post any of your own recipes for other good dried fruit uses.  I’m looking a great trail mix combination!


Becky said...

This is one of my most favorite salads! I'm just giving you the list of ingredients, since you can add more or less of each depending upon your own taste:

Fresh Baby Spinach
Grilled Chicken Breast
Low Sugar Dried Cranberries
Low Fat Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola
A Sweet Dressing (like Raspberry Vinagrette)

I personally love a sweet poppyseed dressing, but a light vinagrette is also delicious. Don't just dump the dressing on! Put it in a bowl on the side. Dip your fork into the dressing and then into your salad. You'll find you get plenty of flavor and a fraction of the calories you would normally get.

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