Written by: Azi Booi Dietitian RD (SA)
Over the past few decades, healthy eating has increasingly become trendy. There are so many options to choose from, especially when it comes to healthy snacks. This often makes deciding on which snack or health item to buy even more difficult. We often ask ourselves, “Is this dried fruit or that granola bar healthier?”. To make your life easier, let’s compare various dried fruit items to commonly enjoyed healthy snack alternatives to identify which snack is genuinely the healthier option.
Raisins vs Granola
Granola bars are higher in energy, even more so when they are coated in yoghurt. Granola bars usually have about 2-3g of protein per serving, making them higher in protein than raisins. But the benefits of raisins go more profound than what you may see on your typical food label.
Raisins can help you add some essential nutrients to your diet, such as vitamin C, copper, potassium, calcium, to name a few. They contain plant nutrients (otherwise known as ‘phytonutrients’), making them potent in antioxidants. The benefits of antioxidants include protecting the cells in your body from harm and reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases.
Dried Prunes vs Chocolate Granola Bars
Chocolate granola bars have added sugars (sometimes in large amounts) compared to dried prunes which naturally contain concentrated fruit sugars and no added sugar. Chocolate granola bars also tend to be higher in their total energy and protein than a single serving of dried prunes. Dried prunes have a variety of health benefits.
Dried prunes are high in vitamins and minerals such as potassium and vitamin k and are also a source of minerals such as copper and manganese.
Dried fruit like dried prunes can be added in moderation as part of a healthy diet and can even count towards your daily amount of dietary fibre (which should be 25-30g). Dried prunes also promote gut health and contain sorbitol which makes them a natural laxative.
Most dried fruit can be classified as a low to medium GI snack. This is a game-changer because it keeps you satisfied until your next meal whilst also maintaining your blood sugar levels and preventing energy spikes throughout the day.
The benefits of dried prunes, amongst any other dried fruit, are classified as a fruit. Therefore, dried prunes can be a great way to add variety to your five fruits and vegetables that you should be eating daily (otherwise known as your ‘5 a day).
Dried Peaches vs Bran Rusks
Bran rusks do contain more protein and saturated fat than dried fruit. They tend to be higher in energy, even more so because we can easily overindulge in them (because if we’re honest, one rusk isn’t always enough). More importantly, you aren’t only eating the rusk itself but need a warm drink with added milk and sugar to dip it into. They can be ‘hidden calories/ kilojoules’ because they can quickly add up to our diet over time.
Although the protein in dried nectarines and peaches does not compare to bran rusks, dried nectarines and peaches are higher in protein than most dried fruit at about 1,2g per serving.
Dried peaches and nectarines are higher in fibre than bran rusks at about 3g per serving, making them an extra satisfying low GI snack.
What’s the verdict?
Dried fruits are lower energy, fat snack and sometimes higher fibre snack compared to these healthy snacks. Even though they contain fruit sugars in concentrated amounts, you can still enjoy them as a healthy snack to add variety to your ‘5 a day. Regardless of the snack you choose, portion sizes are essential, so make sure to use the recommended serving sizes as a guideline when deciding on any snack.
M.J., Sadler et. al., 2019. Dried Fruit and Public Health- What Does the Evidence Tell Us? Int. J of Food Science and Nutrition.Vol 70; I6 Available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09637486.2019.1568398
E., Viguiliouk et al., 2018. Effect of Dried Fruit on Post-Prandial Glycemia: A Randomised Acute Feeding Trial. Nutr Diabetes 8;59.Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30531821/
A., Carughi et al., 2016. Pairing Nuts and Fruit for Cardiometabolic Health. Nutr J. 5;15:23. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26944400/