Are dried fruits helpful for weight loss? – Registered Dietitian Review

Eating a proper balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables, is one of the most important recommendations to reduce your risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some preventable cancers, and more.(1)

Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals have been found to improve and strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage, help repair DNA damage, and even slow the growth of some cancers.(1) How you eat is imperative to your health. It is a direct link. If this fact just surprised you, I hope it has you running to the fruit and vegetable aisle in the supermarket! But it also should bring peace into your life knowing that you have some control over the outcome of your health. Of course, our genetics make up the roadmap of our lives, but our lifestyle choices pave the pathway.

A common concern of eating fruits and vegetables is the nutritious value of these foods in their off seasons.

Practices, such as flash freezing and drying these foods, can help to preserve the nutrient value! Dried food, in particular, is when the water of the fruit is removed and the fruit then becomes concentrated. 

Dried food is a great snack for those on the go.

Sometimes packing an apple while traveling on a train to work or on a plane can seem messy. Having a small package of nutrient dense foods at your fingertips is definitely a game changer. Not only are you able to provide your body with essential nutrients, you are also ditching the mess. Once you realize HOW easy packing this snack is, you then continue to repeat this habit, therefore, creating a new habit that will help you achieve your goals. 

If you’re someone who has a sweet tooth, then dried fruit is for you!

Personally I’ve loved sweets my entire life and I’ve searched for foods that are alternatives to candy. Yes, candy. Dried fruit is one of my favorite healthy alternatives to candy. Does it replace candy? NO, but it is just as delicious, sweet, and there is a mind-body connection that I know I am doing something great for my body. And in return, I enjoy it all the more! A couple of my favorite dried fruits include dried figs and dried apples!

What to BEWARE of when eating dried fruit..

Since the water has been removed, this increases the concentration of the amount of calories.

Meaning, you NEED TO beware of your portion sizes. A common misconception is that you can snack on a bag of fruit like no tomorrow and not worry about your weight because you’re eating fruit, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Dried fruit still contains calories. For example, ½ cup of fresh apple might be around 60 calories, whereas, ½ cup of dried fruit can contain 120 calories or more!

If the concentration of calories increases, so will the amount of sugar in dried fruit.

Again, since the water is removed, the fruit decreases in size, but maintains the same amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This IS beneficial for nutrition purposes, but those thinking they can eat a whole bag of fruit because it’s “healthy” are in for a surprise. Especially those who have diabetes or prediabetes. The best option would be to eat dried fruit with a fat or a protein source to help digest the sugar in the fruit more slowly, therefore, reducing the impact of sugar on your blood.

And lastly, eating a whole bag of dried fruit can send you to the bathroom.

Again, dried fruit is filled with various nutrients, as well as sugar. A rush of too much sugar to your stomach can cause you to literally RUN to the bathroom. This is a common side effect I see when individuals tell me they ate the WHOLE bag, rather than a serving size.

Now that I just explained the benefits of eating dried fruit, while what to beware of, let’s talk about some recommendations of dried fruit for weight loss.

  1. Portion size

Be mindful of how much dried fruit you eat. If all else fails and you’re unsure how much to eat, eat the serving size on the bag. Take a look at the bag and evaluate IF this snack is too high in calories for you, as not all dried fruits are created equal. For example, the dried apples I love are 120 calories for 10 slices and I’m perfectly fine with portioning these out. If the dried apples were 300 calories per serving, I’d question that myself as that amount of calories can start to feel like the size of a meal. It is important to recognize that portion sizes are individualized and based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to gender, height, weight, and daily activities.

  1. Pair with a fat or protein

When you eat something high in sugar (whether naturally derived or manufactured), your blood sugar rises. I recommend this to ALL of my clients; pair your carbohydrates with a fat or protein source. This will increase fullness, as well as manage your blood sugar levels when eating something high in sugar. For example, I’d pair my dried apples with either a protein shake or a handful of nuts as a snack. If I wanted to add dried fruit into my meal, I’d probably add this to a salad with chicken, and other veggies and toppings.

  1. Stick to one serving a day

Do I sometimes eat more than one serving a day? Yes. This is just a general rule, especially for individuals who are afraid to eat dried fruit. But let me tell you something.. The chips, crackers or other snack food you ate today also contain carbohydrates. Sometimes we’re afraid of the unknown, but dried fruit is the LEAST of your worries. Swap out a current snack that maybe isn’t as nutritious and replace it with a dried fruit and nuts.

If you haven’t already figured it out, dried fruits ARE great for weight loss.

This nutrient dense snack is great for on the go, helps to satisfy sweet tooth cravings, and is PACKED with essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Just be sure to be mindful of your portion size, what you eat it with, and how much you eat in one day. I hope this helps you feel confident enough to incorporate dried fruit into your routine! And as always, one habit change can cause a positive ripple effect on how you eat the rest of your day and when coupled with many habits, you will soon follow a lifestyle that will be supportive of achieving your goals.

References

  1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2015.11.034

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