Written by: Registered dietician, Aziwe Booi
There is a lot of controversy surrounding dried fruit: are dried fruit equal to fresh fruit in terms of nutrition and value? And which serving sizes of dried fruit are comparable to those of fresh fruit? The importance of portion control with dried fruit is an essential consideration in this discussion.
Most comparisons between fresh and dried fruit are based on 100g per serving. This is, however, not relevant when comparing dried fruit to its fresh counterpart. One serving of fresh fruit is not equivalent to one serving of dried fruit. The water losses during the processing of dried fruit make their portion sizes significantly smaller and more energy-dense at about 40g per serving.
The small portion size of dried fruit makes it easier to overindulge than a portion of fresh fruit. Portion control is therefore essential when including dried fruit in your diet. Here are three examples of fruit in both their fresh and dried form and their nutritional information at their accurate portion sizes:
1. Dried prunes and Plums
Dried prunes contain more energy, protein, and carbohydrates/ sugars per serving than two fresh plums. Remember that about 1/4 cup or two tablespoons of dried prunes is equivalent to two small plums, so although dried plums have more fiber, eating two plums may feel more satisfying due to their volume.
2. Peaches and dried peaches
One small peach is equivalent to 40g of dried peaches or two halves of dried peaches. Nutritionally, there is slightly more energy and carbohydrates/ sugars in dried fruit than one serving fresh fruit. Still, the protein and fiber in dried peaches can make them equally filling and satisfying.
3. Raisins and grapes
The total energy, fiber, and carbohydrates/ sugars are higher in raisins than in a serving of grapes. Two tablespoons are considered a serving of raisins, whereas one fresh fruit serving is about 100g or 8-12 grapes.
The main concerns may still be the higher carbohydrate/ sugar and calorie content of dried fruit. The reality is that these aren’t the only measures of health because dried fruit can still be equally as nutritious as fresh fruit in various ways, but it is essential to keep the correct serving sizes in mind. Both are low to medium GI and can be a source of fibre important for gut health and a satisfying snack. Both fresh and dried fruit is packed with nutrients that include plenty of vitamins and minerals. This means that they are both potent in anti-oxidants which assist in reducing chronic disease risk.
Variety is key to a healthy diet, so whether your preferred fruit is fresh or dried, it can form part of your five fruits and vegetables a day. The serving sizes of dried fruit are comparably smaller than fresh fruit, so portion control is vital to consider when including dried fruit in your diet.
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