With their high fiber and nutrient content, fruits are an essential component of a healthy diet. While fresh fruits have long been considered the best option, dried fruits contain many of the same benefits. However, in order to utilize the maximum benefits of any fruit you choose, whether fresh or dried, serving sizes should be kept in mind.
Nutrient-dense foods are those that contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals or other health-promoting compounds with relatively few calories. Both dried and fresh fruit are healthy, nutrient-dense foods. The main difference between the two options is that taking out the water in dried fruits concentrates both the nutrients and calories. While this may be advantageous if you're hiking or exercising and want easy, accessible calories, it could be a disadvantage for those trying to lose weight. Sticking with the standard serving size of ¼ cup dried fruit is important to keep in mind to ensure you get the desirable nutrients and avoid overdoing it on the calories.
Calorie and Sugar Content
Again, the drying process works to concentrate the nutrients and calories in a serving of dried fruit. However, when comparing the standard serving sizes, dried and fresh varieties contain equivalent amounts of calories and sugar. For example, one serving of dried apples, ¼ cup, contains 52 calories and 12 grams of sugar. One serving of fresh apples, about 1 cup, contains 65 calories and 13 grams of sugar. Therefore, when sticking to appropriate serving sizes, the calorie and sugar content of the two varieties does not differ significantly. However, a serving of fresh fruit offers more volume and water than dried fruit, which helps to keep you feeling full, an advantageous perk for those watching their waistline.
During the dehydration process, certain heat-sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C, the B vitamins and vitamin A become unstable, resulting in slightly diminished amounts. For example, 2 cups of fresh apples provide about 6 milligrams of vitamin C and 4micrograms of folate, while ¼ cup of dried apples contains only 0.8mg of vitamin C and no folate. However, as a whole, dried fruit provides many of the same health benefits as fresh, as long as it is consumed in appropriate amounts.
Sarah Dreifke is a freelance writer based in DeKalb, IL with a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in both Dietetics and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is working towards a combined Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship at Northern Illinois University.