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As a Registered Dietitian, people frequently ask me about which are the best foods they can add to their diet. Although all foods can be part of a balanced eating pattern, there are some we may want to include more often due to their nutrient density. This brings me to dry fruits. One thing that many people don’t know about is how beneficial dry fruits can be for your health. There are many types of dry fruits available, and they all have different benefits. In this blog post, we will discuss the 12 best dry fruits and their unique benefits for the body!
How can I add dry fruits to my diet?
Dry fruits are fruit that have been processed and dehydrated. This means that they contain more nutrients than fresh produce, because water is removed during the process of dehydration. They also last much longer and can be stored in airtight containers for a long time without any spoilage or decay. Some common types of dry fruit include figs, apricots, dates, and raisins.
One thing to keep in mind is that many people are not getting enough fruits as part of their diet because fresh produce can come with a price tag attached. However, by eating dried fruits like raisins, dates, and apricots you can have a healthy snack that tastes great without breaking the bank.
What do dry fruits offer?
Dry fruits are high in fiber (which is important for your digestive system) and will keep you feeling full longer than any other type of food. Dried fruit is also a good source of potassium, which will keep your heart healthy. Another great benefit of dried fruit, specifically nuts, is that they’re a great source of plant-based protein, and also provide heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Let’s take a look at how to add these nutritional powerhouses to your diet.
Tips for adding more dried fruit to your diet
Dried fruit are vesatile, shelf-stable and budget-friendly. And a little goes a long way! Here’s some tips on how you can start adding more dried fruits into your daily meals, today:
- You can eat them by themselves as a healthy snack. When it comes to nuts, try to choose those that have no salt or added sugars added more often.
- Sprinkle them into your cereal or oatmeal for added sweetness and nutritional benefits.
- Dry fruit is very versatile; you can use it in many food recipes like smoothies, desserts, sauces, cakes, etc.
- Mix berries into your oats, then add some chopped nuts and dried fruit on top
- Add them to your salads for additional crunch, satiety, and nutrients
- Puree them into nut butters or fruit sauces.
- Use them as the perfect yogurt topping
The 12 best dried fruit and their nutritional benefits
Now you may be wondering: “Which dry fruit is healthiest?” Well, the best types of dried fruits may depend on the nutrients you’re looking for, but there are plenty of options. Here, we’ll check out the 12 best dried fruits, the benefits they provide to your health, and resources to help you find the best dry fruits online.
1. Medjool Dates
Medjool dates are high in fiber and many other important nutrients. Medjool dates can help lower your blood pressure and may improve blood cholesterol levels. They are also packed with many antioxidants which fight free radicals, which in turn are associated with cancer and other chronic diseases.
An important addition to any diet, Medjool dates are also a good source of:
- Vitamin A
Medjool dates also contain insoluble fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion and is a great prebiotic. Eating enough insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and inflammation in the digestive tract.
2. Dried Apricots
Looking at their nutritional content, dried apricots have a high fiber content and also contain Vitamin A (a type of antioxidant). In fact, dried apricots provide for 47% of your daily vitamin A needs in a single serving.
They also contain antioxidant vitamins C and E. Dried apricots are also good sources of potassium and calcium. These are important for the body for bone health (calcium) and in helping to lower blood pressure levels (potassium).
3. Dried plums (prunes)
Dried plums are a type of fruit that originates from an area in Asia. The plum is picked when it is still ripe and then dried to prevent spoilage. Drying prevents the oxidation process, thus increasing the shelf stability of this nutrient-rich fruit. In fact, dried plums (prunes) have been found to contain more vitamins than fresh plums, with respect to vitamins:
Even though they are dried, these plums are still full of a lot of nutrients that help with preventing cancer and heart disease. They also have many other health benefits including improving digestion due to their high fiber content, which is especially helpful for those who suffer from constipation or gas.
Raisins are one of the most well-known dry fruits, and they also happen to be a delicious snack that is easy to make on your own. Raisins can help with digestion because they contain natural sugars along with fiber. This means less constipation and digestive issues after including raisins in your meals and snacks.
The best thing about raisins is that they contain many antioxidants. So as you eat raisins, your body will be able to fight off oxidative stress better, which may help prevent the development of chronic diseases such as cancers and heart disease.
5. Dried Goji Berries
Dried goji berries are a very beneficial fruit for the body. They have high levels of antioxidants, as well such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
The antioxidants in dried goji berries may help to prevent cancerous cells from developing in your system by fighting off any free radicals that can cause them to grow. The anti-inflammatory properties also make this fruit a good choice for those who have arthritis or any other type of inflammatory disease. These berries are also rich in iron, which is very beneficial to the body because it prevents anemia.
They’re also a great source of fiber, with 4 g in just 5 tablespoons. Eat these fruits as a snack or include them in your lunchtime meal for an extra boost of energy and nutritional value.
6. Dried cranberries
Dried cranberries are the perfect fruit to add flavor and texture to salads or other dishes. They can be eaten by themselves as well! Dried cranberries are extremely versatile when it comes to their uses in food preparation. There are many recipes that call for dried cranberries, and they are quite easy to find, such as my own recipe for Stuffed Vegan Butternut Squash.
One of the reasons why dry cranberries can be so beneficial is because they are high in vitamin C. They are also rich in plant compounds, some of which have been shown to be effective against urinary tract infections (UTIs) and with improving the gut microbiome.
Almonds are one of the most popular types of dry fruits, and for good reason. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium, and riboflavin, and a good source of fiber and phosphorus. Just 1 oz of almonds has 13 grams of “good” unsaturated fats and are naturally cholesterol-free. When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in vitamin E and riboflavin and provide 6 grams of protein.
Not only do almonds taste great, but they are also a good source of serotonin, an important chemical in the brain that helps maintain a healthy mood.
8. Brazil nuts
In fact, according to this research paper, “Brazil nuts are among the richest selenium food sources, and studies have considered this Amazonian nut as an alternative for selenium supplementation”.
Not only are they a good source of protein, fiber, selenium, but Brazil nuts also contain:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
Cashews are a type of dry fruit that can be eaten raw or roasted. They contain many vitamins and minerals, including some calcium, vitamin E, folate, magnesium and phosphorus. In addition to this, they also have iron which is great for boosting energy levels. Cashews are considered by some people to be the ultimate source of antioxidants because they are rich in vitamin E.
Cashews are also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
Cashews may also help protect brain function. According to this research paper, nuts such as cashews have “demonstrated their actions against inflammation, oxidative damage, the aging process, as well as dementia or memory loss”.
Walnuts have omega-three fatty acids and they also provide a good source of protein. Walnuts are great for brain health, as well as helping to maintain your digestive tract in order, due to their fiber content.
In fact, per this paper, “walnuts may also decrease the risk or progression of other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and depression, as well as of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes”.
Walnuts have contain more antioxidants than any other common nut. This is due to their vitamin E, melatonin and plant compounds called polyphenols, which are particularly high in the papery skin of walnuts.
Pistachios are packed with antioxidants, fiber and protein. They can also help to lower cholesterol levels in the body, as well as reduce inflammation.
One of the main benefits is that pistachio nuts contain a high level of proteins which is necessary for growth and repair in our bodies. Studies have found that people who consume pistachios in their diets have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type two diabetes.
The high level of protein found in pistachio nuts is also very beneficial for the brain since it promotes growth and repair as well as helps to create new brain cells. This can help people who are looking for ways to improve memory or slow down symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
12. Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are not just a tasty snack, they also have some great benefits for your health. They can help in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease which is one reason why many people include them in their diet. Macadamia nuts contain monounsaturated fats that helps to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, it appears that Macadamia nuts may help protect heart health, lowering total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, ApoB, and triglycerides.
They also provide important nutrients such as:
- Vitamin B6
As with all other types of nuts, Macadamia nuts are naturally cholesterol free and very low in sodium. They’re also a great source of fiber and plant-based protein.
How much dry fruits should I eat daily?
According to this research paper, “significant reductions in relative risk of precancerous colorectal polyps, incidence of prostate cancer, or mortality from pancreatic cancer, by, respectively, 24%, 49%, and 65%, were associated with 3-5 or more servings of dried fruits per week”. Luckily, as we saw above, dry fruits can be easily incorporated into any meal or snack!
I hope this post has given you a better understanding of the health benefits of dried fruits, and is helpful in for you to incorporate them into your own healthy diet. Adding more dry fruit options into your daily routine can be an easy way to incorporate some extra nutrients! So go ahead and try out one (or all!) of my 12 best dry fruits today. What are some other types that I missed? Leave me a comment below.
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…