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Myth or Fact: Fresh Fruit is Better Than Dried Fruit

The debate concerning whether fresh fruit is better than dried fruit continues. It is often assumed that fresh fruit is unequivocally better than dried, but the truth is more complex. Various factors should be considered when choosing fresh fruit or dried fruit. Most of the considerations should not concern whether the fruit is fresh or dried, but where it is from and how it was grown and/or dried.

The Basics

Aside from the sweet taste of fruit, fruit is consumed for its antioxidants and high fiber content. While different fruits have different nutrients and different corresponding benefits, all fruits have a form of antioxidants and fiber, which keep your immune system strong. In order to utilize the maximum benefits of fruit, the fruit you choose, whether fresh or dried, should contain the least chemicals and the most nutrients.

Dried Fruit

In its most basic form, dried fruit is simply fruit with the moisture removed. If the fruit is dried naturally, it should contain all of the vitamins and minerals that you would find in fresh fruit. Dried fruit can even be advantageous to fresh fruit. First, dried fruit is sometimes boiled before it is dried. Boiling fruit can kill microorganisms  which you would otherwise ingest. Additionally, dried fruit can be preserved longer than fresh fruit, so you can eat it when the fresh fruit is not “in season.”

If fruit is dried chemically by adding preservatives (such as sulfur dioxide), it becomes increasingly unhealthy. Sulfur dioxide can reduce certain vitamins in the fruit (such as vitamin B), and high heat drying can cause fruit to lose even more nutrients. In addition to preservatives, sugar is added to dried fruit which continues to degrade its nutrient value.

Fresh Fruit

Like dried fruit, fresh fruit contains many vitamins and minerals. Fresh fruit also contains water, which can help hydrate your body. Fresh fruit  contains fewer calories per serving because of its water content. While fresh fruit is generally very nutritious, there are some things that can make it less healthy. Fresh fruit is less nutritious if it is under ripe or over ripe. If fresh fruit is being transported to your supermarket from a grower thousands of miles away, the fresh fruit is usually picked before it is ripe in order to keep it from spoiling during transportation. This decreases the amount of nutrients the fresh fruit contains.

If fresh fruit is not labeled "organic", it is probably grown with pesticides. Pesticides reduce the antioxidants contained within the fruit and have been implicated in causing long term health damage.

Deciding

You can’t make a blanket statement about whether or not fresh fruit is better than dried fruit. The best decision is made on a case by case basis. If you are faced with the choice between eating naturally dried, organic blueberries or overly ripe blueberries that were grown with pesticides and shipped to you from the other side of the country; you would hopefully choose the dried blueberries. Conversely, if you have the option of eating fresh blueberries or sugary dried blueberries, you would choose fresh blueberries.

 

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