Long before there were roadside stands or produce sections in the supermarket, our ancestors enjoyed eating fruit. They may not have known that it was good for them, but they certainly knew it was tasty and that it provided much needed energy. The only problem was that fresh fruit went bad in only a few days. Not to mention that fact that it was big and bulky and difficult to carry.
Leaving these fruits out in the hot sun solved both of these problems. Since the weight and size of most fruits is determined by their juices, removing them through dehydration makes fruits lighter and smaller. It also helps protect them from the microorganisms that make all fresh fruits go bad, since they can only grow in moist environments. Dried fruit is generally safe to eat for at least a year!
The most popular and widely available dried fruit on the planet is the raisin. It has been around for at least two thousand years and probably much longer. Prunes, apricots, cranberries, and dates are also quite tasty in their dried form. Pineapples, pears, mangoes, and apples can also be found in the average dried fruit tray.
When a fruit is dried and it loses its juices, it loses some of its nutritional content as well. Dried fruit is also much higher in sugar content for its size, since the sugar is concentrated due to the drying process. Of course, high sugar content is not always a bad thing. In fact, that’s probably one of the reasons why ancient peoples, especially soldiers and explorers, adored dried fruit. They needed snacks that would provide quick energy in a small package, and few things do that better than dried fruit. With that said, dried apricots, prunes, and dates are not candy. Although high in sugar, they are also high in nutrients and dietary fiber.
What does fiber do?
Dietary fiber aids digestion and helps people have regular bowel movements. It has also been linked to lower blood cholesterol, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Fiber is an important part of any weight loss plan because it helps you feel full longer. Unfortunately, most Americans do not consume enough of this vital dietary component. Only about 10 percent of them ingest the recommended 30 grams of fiber each day!
In addition to fiber, most dried fruit also contain healthy servings of potassium, iron, and other minerals. Although the vitamin content varies based on the fruit and the way it was prepared, most dried varieties retain some vitamin A and C. You should always double-check the nutritional label of the dried fruit, to be sure.