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Don’t be afraid to grab a handful of raisins or dried apples. Eating dried fruit may be connected with better health according to a new Penn State study.

Previous Research

Past studies have shown that unhealthy eating contributes to nearly half of the deaths from cardiovascular disease in U.S. with lack of fruit being a major factor. Fruits are packed with healthy nutrients include fiber, potassium and several heart-healthy bioactive compounds.

People Don’t Eat Enough Fruit

There are multiple reasons people may not eat enough fruit including limited availability of certain fruits year-round, cost and time it takes to spoil. Because of this, eating minimally processed fruits (including frozen, canned and dried) can have some advantages over fresh fruit:

· Available year-round

· Relatively consistent quality

· Longer shelf life

· More portable

· Less expensive per serving (sometimes)

Penn State Study Description

In the new study, 25,590 participants told researchers what foods they had eaten in the previous 24 hours (called a 24-hour recall) on two separate occasions. Participant cardiometabolic health was also measured including body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure and overall quality of the foods they ate.

Study Results

On average, the participants who ate more dried fruit tended to eat healthier overall than those who did not eat dried fruit. Additionally, when they ate dried fruit, they also ate more total carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, polyunsaturated fat and total calories. Participants who ate dried fruit had a lower BMI, waist circumference and systolic blood pressure.

Some participants reported eating dried fruit on one day but not the second. On the days dried fruit was eaten, more total fruit was also eaten. However, on the days dried fruit was not eaten, fresh fruit intake was not higher. Therefore, in this study, it appears that eating dried fruit boosted overall fruit intake.

Tips for Eating Dried Fruit

Dried fruit can be a nutritious snack choice and help you eat healthier. However, dried fruits are higher in calories per volume than fresh fruits because the water has been removed. To overcome this and other issues, choose unsweetened versions of dried fruit without any added sugar. Eat smaller portions of dried fruit than you would for fresh, frozen, or canned.

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