Many healthy eaters keep ripe, juicy grapes in their crispers year-round. They are the fourth most popular fruit in the United States. Additionally, grapes are widely appreciated in another form: wine. However, despite being loved in various ways, many individuals have conflicting opinions regarding their dried form, and raisins, including whether or not they are healthy.
In general, dried fruit is seen to be heavier in sugar than nutrients, yet raisins are actually quite healthy. Here, registered dietitian Jessica Bippen, RD, discusses the many health benefits of raisins.
The nutritional depletion of raisins
Typically, raisins are produced by drying grapes in the sun and then processing them at a facility. And despite the fact that raisins seem extremely different from grapes, according to Bippen, they are nutritionally very comparable. “The peculiar thing about raisins is that many people are unaware that they offer the same health benefits as grapes,” explains Bippen. They are identical fruits that have been dried.
She notes that the primary difference is that grapes contain significantly more water than grapes. Bippen states, “Without the water content, the nutrients become much more concentrated.” “This also means that the sugar becomes more concentrated, so it’s crucial to keep this in mind.” This is true of all grapes; some manufacturers increase the sugar content of grapes by adding additional sugar.
In light of this, the following is a summary of the main nutrients in one ounce of raisins (about 60):
- Calories: 85
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbohydrates: 22 grams
- Sugar: 17 grams
- Calcium: 14 milligrams
- Iron: 0.5 milligrams
- Magnesium: 9 milligrams
- Potassium: 212 milligrams
- Sodium: 3 milligrams
What benefits do raisins offer?
1. They are rich in antioxidants
Similar to grapes, raisins are a rich source of antioxidants, according to Bippen. This is because they are rich in polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidants. She notes that polyphenols help combat free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body, making them one of the most significant benefits of raisins. She adds that they are also beneficial for brain health, enhancing cognitive function and preventing cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
2. Raisins are rich in iron, which is beneficial to cardiovascular health.
Bippen also awards a gold star to iron, another nutrient found in raisins. “This is a nutrient that many vegans and vegetarians may not get enough of, so nibbling on raisins could help them get more of it,” she explains. She claims that iron improves blood flow, which immediately affects the cardiovascular system. For this reason, raisins are an excellent addition to a pre-exercise snack. “For optimal iron absorption, vitamin C should be combined with iron. Raisins also contain this nutrient, therefore you receive both from the same food “She continues.
Even though raisins are not the best source of iron, including them in your diet can help you achieve your daily iron requirements.
3. They include calcium, which promotes bone health.
Additionally, raisins contain trace levels of calcium, which, according to Bippen, can promote bone health. (Your daily calcium intake should range between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams.) Bippen adds that calcium plays a crucial role in muscle function, aiding in the transmission of messages from the brain to the muscles, in addition to being beneficial for the health of the bones and teeth. Another reason why they’re perfect for your exercise backpack!
4. Raisins contain just trace levels of protein.
Bippen notes that although raisins aren’t as rich in protein as meat, almonds, beans, or tofu, they still contain the nutrient, and every little bit helps. This prevents the sugar in raisins from increasing blood sugar as much as it would otherwise.
5. Raisins are an excellent fiber source.
One ounce of raisins includes one gram of fiber, which is quite remarkable for such a tiny quantity. (You should aim for between 25 and 28 grams per day.) “I wouldn’t use raisins as your primary source of fiber, but include them is a fantastic addition and certainly advantageous,” Bippen says. Like protein, fiber prevents the substantial natural sugars in dried fruit from having such a significant impact on blood sugar levels.
Fiber is one of the most essential nutrients for the body, as it reduces inflammation and improves intestinal health. While a handful of raisins is only a minor fraction of the daily fiber requirements, adding them to your oatmeal or salad will bring you closer to your goals and help your body.