(Health Secrets Newsletter) What could be better than giving your sweet tooth what it craves, your body the nutrients it needs for vibrant health, and losing weight at the same time? Keeping plenty of dried fruits on hand makes it easy to treat the whole family to a delicious, chewy and nourishing snack that keeps the pounds off. Dried fruit is a treasure chest of nutrients, and eating it is a way to get your favorite fruits year round.
Eating nutrient dense fruit helps weight loss
The amazing health benefits of fruit are well known. Eating fruit has been shown to do everything from reducing the risk of cancer to helping weight loss. Eating nutrient dense fruit sends a powerful signal to the body that it’s being properly nourished. When the body is well nourished, the hormone leptin turns off the urge to eat.
Fruit provides a rapid increase in energy for activity and exercise, helping you shed unwanted pounds and maintain your ideal body weight. It has been shown in studies to help reduce blood pressure due to its positive sodium to potassium ratio. Fruit reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, and keeps cancer away. It keeps cholesterol ratios looking good, helps prevent diabetes, and slows the aging process.
Dried fruit provides a luscious burst of flavor and sweetness that will satisfy the sugar urge. The drying process removes most of the water, making everything about dried fruit more concentrated including its nutrients. For example, the antioxidant power of dried blueberries can be as much as four times higher than their fresh counterparts.
Dried fruit is a research star
Dried fruit is rich in essential nutrients in synergistic balance and with high bio-availability. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals and vital enzymes. Dried fruit contains high amounts of polyphenols, substances that give fruit its color and high antioxidant ratings.
The British Journal of Nutrition reported that consuming dried plums slows the development of atherosclerosis, the buildup of waxy plaque inside blood vessels. This in turn slows the development of cardiovascular disease and may reverse the buildup of plaque in veins and arteries.
Another study reported in Cancer Research showed that eating dried black raspberries prevents the development of cancer by restoring carcinogen altered and damaged genes to their normal state.
The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reports that the infection fighting power of dried cranberries comes from its high antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants combat free radical production in the body, a function that many scientists believe gives fruits the ability to combat the aging process.
The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported a study finding dried berries decreased tumor number and tumor size, and decreased expression of genes implicated in colon cancer.
Bioscience Biotechnology Biochemistry recently reported isolation of a new antioxidant powerhouse in dried prune extract. This procyanidin oligomer is composed of epicatechin and catechin. Epicatechin improves blood flow and is a promoter of heart health. The link between epicatechin and prevention of killer disease is so strong that it is being considered for status as a vitamin. It may be that many diseases are the result of epicatechin deficiency.
Which dried fruits make the best choices?
Raisins are dried grapes and retain most of the benefits of the grape along with other benefits they develop as raisins. They are rich in boron, iron, potassium, calcium and the B vitamins, and are a good source of fiber. Raisins contain phytonutrients such as resveratrol and olenolic acid. The health benefits of raisins include protection from gum disease and cavities, osteoporosis and macular degeneration. Raisins are as beneficial to eye sight as carrots. The resveratrol in raisins provides the body with many of the benefits of eating a calorie restricted diet. even if you are not restricting calories! Make or buy trail mix that includes raisins along with other dries fruits, nuts and seeds.
Apricots are another popular dried fruit with a high nutritional profile. They are rich in fiber, beta-carotene, Vitamins A and C, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, silica, and potassium. Apricots are also rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against cancer, particularly of the prostate, larynx, esophagus, lungs and prostrate. Their ability to scavenge free radicals helps prevent cataract formation, while their high fiber content helps prevent constipation and digestive conditions such as diverticulosis. Three or more servings of fruit a day, including apricots, lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36 percent compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit a day. Dried apricots make a wonderful lunchtime addition or afternoon snack for the whole family.
Cherries are related to plums, peaches, apricots, and almonds along with many others from the versatile Rose family. They are a good source of vitamins A and C and potassium. They contain pectin and anthocyanins, which are flavonoids linked to the prevention of cancer and heart disease. One study found cherries to be potent antibacterial agents that help prevent tooth decay and plaque formation. They are also a time proven treatment for arthritis and gout.