Celebrating National Nutrition Month with Dried Fruit!
March is National Nutrition Month! This month provides a great opportunity to recognize the role nutritious foods play in supporting our well-being. What better way to start the celebration than by sharing some of the nutritional benefits of dried fruit?
What is Dried Fruit?
Dried fruit is fresh fruit that has had its water content removed via sun drying or a dehydrator. The drying process shrinks the fruit, leaving delicious, naturally sweet, energy dense fruit. Dried fruit is different from candied fruit, where the fruit is soaked in a sugar syrup, then heated until the fruit’s water content is replaced with sugar. One of the many things we love about dried fruit is that the drying process allows the natural sweetness to shine through, without the added sugariness or rough texture often present in candied fruit.
What Kinds of Nutrients are in Dried Fruit?
Dried fruit, like fresh fruit, is highly nutritious. In fact, dried fruit contains about the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit, but condensed in a handy, snack-friendly package. Just one serving of dried fruit boasts almost 10% of your daily fiber needs! Not just important for your digestive health, fiber also regulates the body’s use of sugars, which helps to keep both hunger and blood sugar in check. Dried fruit is also packed with vitamins and minerals like folate. According to the Mayo Clinic, folate is necessary for both red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function. Folate is especially important during pregnancy, as the nutrient is crucial for healthy brain and spine development.
Looking to boost digestion, support brain health, and protect against heart disease and diabetes? Look no further than the master of multitasking, polyphenols. Polyphenols are powerhouse antioxidants naturally found in plant foods, including dried fruit. According to the National Institute of Health, polyphenols help lower your blood sugar levels, which contributes to an overall lower risk of diabetes. Polyphenols also contribute to heart health by reducing chronic inflammation and lowering blood sugar. Your brain loves polyphenols too! Polyphenol-rich foods can also help boost focus and memory. This is great news, because let’s face it, your brain is kind of a big deal.
What Else Makes Dried Fruit Great?
Although we’re die-hard fruit lovers, we’re guilty of buying a delicious piece of fruit on the brink of ripeness, only to forget about it in our fruit basket until its gone bad! Keeping fresh fruit around can be tricky! One of our favorite benefits of dried fruit is its shelf life. Fruit for Thought dried fruit has a 12-month shelf life. With dried fruit, you can enjoy mangos in December and persimmons in May! Dried fruit doesn’t require refrigeration to boot! This makes dried fruit the perfect way to get some plant-based nutrients in on car trips and plane rides, as well as on hiking and camping trips. But you don’t need to use your vacation time to enjoy the benefits of dried fruit, it’s great for everyday snacking!
Want to keep the celebration going? Adding a serving or two of dried fruit to your lunch is a great way to kick off National Nutrition Month. Searching for unique ways to get sneak some plant-based nutrients into your diet? First, don’t forget to snag your snacks here, then follow us on Instagram @YourFFT and ‘Like’ us on Facebook. We’ve got you covered this week with some recipes that we think are pretty near pear-fict.