"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Is eating dry fruits healthy?

Ask the doctor.

Photo: lola1960/iStock

Question I really like dried fruit and I believe it’s healthy. But I heard that eating dry fruits makes you gain weight which just isn’t healthy. What is reality?

Oh The truth is, actress and comedian Mae West was incorrect when she reportedly said “Too much of a good thing…can be wonderful!” Food accommodates calories, and eating too many calories – even healthy foods – can result in weight gain. But there are healthy calories and unhealthy (“empty”) calories, and fruit is a healthy source of calories. This is as true of dried fruit as of fresh fruit.

However, there are some caveats. Because dried fruit is far smaller than the fresh fruit it comes from, it's easy to eat too many calories by eating dried fruit. I rarely eat three fresh apricots or 30 grapes in a couple of hours, but I often eat greater than three dried apricots and 30 raisins in a couple of hours. Another concern is that some dried fruit manufacturers add sugar to dried fruit (which already accommodates its own natural sugars). Determining the quantity of added sugar in a serving will turn out to be easier when latest government-approved Nutrition Facts labels begin appearing.

Dried fruit also accommodates more fiber and antioxidants called phenols per ounce than fresh fruit. Fiber fights heart disease, obesity and a few kinds of cancer (although its potential protective effect against colon cancer is controversial). People with diets wealthy in plant phenols have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, many kinds of cancer, and possibly degenerative brain diseases.

So, by all means keep eating dry fruits: they’re stuffed with healthy nutrients. But avoid added sugars, and watch calories.