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Dried fruit

Dried fruit

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Dried fruit is fruit where the majority of the original water content has been removed either naturally, through sun drying
Drying (food)
Drying is a method of food preservation that works by removing water from the food, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms and hinders quality decay. Drying food using sun and wind to prevent spoilage has been practised since ancient times, and was the earliest form of food curing...

, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators
Food dehydrator
Food drying is a practice used to preserve fruit, vegetables and animal proteins after harvest since antiquity, and a food dehydrator refers to a device that removes moisture from food to aid in its preservation. A food dehydrator uses a heat source and air flow to reduce the water content of foods...

. Dried fruit has a long tradition of use dating back to the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and is prized because of its sweet taste, wrinkly texture, nutritive value and long shelf life. Today, dried fruit consumption is widespread. Nearly half of the dried fruits sold are raisin
Raisin
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

s, followed by dates
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

, prune
Prune
A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

s (dried plum
Plum
A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus, subgenus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds , the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one...

s), fig
Ficus
Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. The Common Fig Ficus is a genus of...

s, apricot
Apricot
The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

s, peach
Peach
The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

es, apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

s and pear
Pear
The pear is any of several tree species of genus Pyrus and also the name of the pomaceous fruit of these trees. Several species of pear are valued by humans for their edible fruit, but the fruit of other species is small, hard, and astringent....

s. These are referred to as “conventional” or “traditional” dried fruit
Traditional dried fruit
Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums , apricots and peaches. It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have...

s: fruits that have been dried in the sun or in heated wind tunnel dryers. Many fruits such as cranberries
Cranberry
Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right...

, blueberries
Blueberry
Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium with dark-blue berries and are perennial...

, cherries
Cherry
The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy stone fruit. The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species, including especially cultivars of the wild cherry, Prunus avium....

, strawberries
Strawberry
Fragaria is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, commonly known as strawberries for their edible fruits. Although it is commonly thought that strawberries get their name from straw being used as a mulch in cultivating the plants, the etymology of the word is uncertain. There...

 and mango
Mango
The mango is a fleshy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to India from where it spread all over the world. It is also the most cultivated fruit of the tropical world. While...

es are infused with a sweetener (e.g. sucrose syrup) prior to drying. Some products sold as dried fruit, like papaya
Papaya
The papaya , papaw, or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, the sole species in the genus Carica of the plant family Caricaceae...

 and pineapple
Pineapple
Pineapple is the common name for a tropical plant and its edible fruit, which is actually a multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries. It was given the name pineapple due to its resemblance to a pine cone. The pineapple is by far the most economically important plant in the Bromeliaceae...

s are actually candied fruit
Candied fruit
Candied fruit, also known as crystallized fruit or Glacé fruit, has been around since the 14th century. Whole fruit, smaller pieces of fruit, or pieces of peel, are placed in heated sugar syrup, which absorbs the moisture from within the fruit and eventually preserves it...

.

History



Traditional dried fruit
Traditional dried fruit
Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums , apricots and peaches. It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have...

 such as raisin
Raisin
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

s, fig
Ficus
Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. The Common Fig Ficus is a genus of...

s, dates
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

, apricot
Apricot
The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

s and apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

s have been a staple of Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of southern Italy, Crete and much of the rest of Greece in the 1960s....

s for millennia. This is due partly to their early cultivation in the Middle Eastern region known as the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

, made up by parts of modern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, southwest Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and northern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Drying
Drying
Drying is a mass transfer process consisting of the removal of water or another solvent by evaporation from a solid, semi-solid or liquid. This process is often used as a final production step before selling or packaging products. To be considered "dried", the final product must be solid, in the...

 or dehydration also happened to be the earliest form of food preservation
Food preservation
Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage and thus allow for longer storage....

: grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s, dates and figs that fell from the tree or vine would dry in the hot sun. Early hunter-gatherers observed that these fallen fruit took on an edible form, and valued them for their stability as well as their concentrated sweetness.

The earliest recorded mention of dried fruits can be found in Mesopotamian tablets dating to about 1700 BC, which contain what are probably the oldest known written recipes. These clay slabs, written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, were inscribed in cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 and tell of diets based in grains (barley, millet, wheat) vegetables and fruits such as dates, figs, apples, pomegranate
Pomegranate
The pomegranate , Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.Native to the area of modern day Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as...

s, and grapes. These early civilizations used dates, date juice evaporated into syrup and raisins as sweeteners. They included dried fruits in their breads for which they had more than 300 recipes, from simple barley bread for the workers to very elaborate, spiced cakes with honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

 for the palaces and temples. Because cuneiform was very complex and only scribes who had studied for years could read it, it is unlikely that the tablets were meant for everyday cooks or chefs. Instead they were written to document the culinary art of the times. Many recipes are quite elaborate and have rare ingredients so we may assume that they represent "Mediterranean haute cuisine".

The date palm
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

 was one of the first cultivated trees. It was domesticated in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 more than 5,000 years ago. It grew abundantly in the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

 and it was so productive (an average date palm produces 100 lbs of fruit a year for 60 years or more) that dates were the cheapest of staple foods. Because they were so valuable they were well recorded in Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n and Babylonian monuments and temples. The villagers in Mesopotamia dried them and ate them as sweets. Whether fresh, soft-dried or hard-dried, they helped to give character to meat dishes and grain pies. They were valued by travelers for their energy and were recommended as stimulants against fatigue.

Figs were also prized in early Mesopotamia, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Egypt where their daily use was probably greater than or equal to that of dates. As well as appearing in wall paintings, many specimens have been found in Egyptian tombs as funerary offerings. In Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, figs grew very readily and they were the staple of poor and rich alike, particularly in their dried form.

Grape cultivation first began in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and the eastern regions of the Mediterranean in the 4th century BC. Here, raisins were manufactured by burying grapes in the desert sun. Very quickly, viticulture
Viticulture
Viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture...

 and raisin production spread across northern Africa including Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 and Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

. The Phoenicians and the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 popularized the production of raisins, probably due to the perfect environment for sun drying. They put them in jars for storage and allotted them to the different temples by the thousands. They also included them in their breads and their various pastries, some made with honey, some with milk and eggs.

From the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, these fruits spread through Greece to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 where they became a major part of the diet. Ancient Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 ate raisins in spectacular quantities and all levels of society, including them as a key part of their common meals, along with olives and fruits. Raisined breads were common for breakfast and were consumed with their grains, beans and cultured milks. Raisins were so valued that they transcended the food realm and became rewards for successful athletes as well as premium barter currency.

Having dried fruits was a must in ancient Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 as these instructions for housekeepers around 100 BC tell: "She must keep a supply of cooked food on hand for you and the servants. She must keep many hens and have plenty of eggs. She must have a large store of dried pears, sorbs, figs, raisins, sorbs in must, preserved pears and grapes and quinces. She must also keep preserved grapes in grape-pulp and in pots buried in the ground, as well as fresh Praenestine nuts kept in the same way, and Scantian quinces in jars, and other fruits that are usually preserved, as well as wild fruits. All these she must store away diligently every year."

Figs again were extremely popular in Rome. Dried figs were equated with bread and formed a major part or the winter food of country people. They were rubbed with spiced such as cumin, anise and fennel seeds, or toasted sesame, wrapped in fig leaves and stored in jars.

Plum
Plum
A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in the genus Prunus, subgenus Prunus. The subgenus is distinguished from other subgenera in the shoots having a terminal bud and solitary side buds , the flowers in groups of one to five together on short stems, and the fruit having a groove running down one...

s, apricot
Apricot
The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

s and peach
Peach
The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

es had their origins in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. They were domesticated in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in the 3rd millennium BC and spread to the Fertile Crescent where they were also very popular, fresh and dried alike. They arrived in Greece and Italy much later and were very expensive but valued in the preparation of gourmet dishes with port or stewed with honey and spices.

Trends and current production


{| align="left" class="wikitable"
|+ California Dried Fruit Production
(Dry Basis
Dry basis
Dry basis is a expression of the calculation in chemistry, chemical engineering and related subjects, in which the presence of water is ignored for the purposes of the calculation...

)

|-
! Fruit !! Tons
|-
| Apricots || 1,970
|-
| Dates || 16,300
|-
| Figs || 14,500
|-
| Peaches || 1,365
|-
| Pears (bartlett) || 400
|-
| Prunes || 81,000
|-
| Raisins || 350,000
|}
Today, dried fruit is produced in most regions of the world, and consumption occurs in all cultures and demographic segments. In the United States, Americans consumed an average of 2.18 pounds (processed weight) of dried fruit in 2006. Raisin
Raisin
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

s accounted for about two thirds of this. California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 produces the largest percentage of the US and the world's dried fruit crop. It accounts for over 99% of the US crop of raisins and dried plums
Prune
A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

, 98% of dried figs
Ficus
Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. The Common Fig Ficus is a genus of...

, 96% of dried peach
Peach
The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

es, 92% of apricot
Apricot
The apricot, Prunus armeniaca, is a species of Prunus, classified with the plum in the subgenus Prunus. The native range is somewhat uncertain due to its extensive prehistoric cultivation.- Description :...

s and over 90% of dates
Date Palm
The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

. Most of California dried fruit production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley where the soil and climate, especially the hot, dry summers, provide ideal growing conditions. While these fruits were commonly dried in the sun in the past, now only raisins are almost entirely naturally sun-dried.

Nutritional quality and nutrient composition



Dried fruits retain most of the nutritional value of fresh fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

s, and so are included with fresh fruit in dietary recommendations by U.S. and world health agencies. The specific nutrient
Nutrient
A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy...

 content of the different dried fruits reflect their fresh counterpart and the processing method (e.g. traditional dried fruit
Traditional dried fruit
Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums , apricots and peaches. It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have...

s versus sugar infused dried fruit). In general, all dried fruits provide essential nutrients and an array of health protective bioactive ingredients, making them valuable tools to both increase diet quality and help reduce the risk of chronic disease. The combination of nutritional value and enjoyable taste is the reason dried fruits have been popularly considered a healthy food for millennia. Because they are naturally resistant to spoilage, easy to store and transport and relatively low in cost, dried fruits are a convenient way to increase the number of servings of fruit in the diet. The following are basic nutritional facts on dried fruits:
  • Like fresh fruits, dried fruits are practically devoid of fat
    Fat
    Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

    , trans fat
    Trans fat
    Trans fat is the common name for unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acid. Because the term refers to the configuration of a double carbon-carbon bond, trans fats are sometimes monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, but never saturated....

    s, saturated fat
    Saturated fat
    Saturated fat is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the individual carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain. That is, the chain of carbon atoms is fully "saturated" with hydrogen atoms...

     and cholesterol
    Cholesterol
    Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

    .
  • Like fresh fruits, dried fruits have very low sodium
    Sodium
    Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...

     content.
  • Dried fruits are a particularly significant source of dietary fiber
    Dietary fiber
    Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

     and potassium
    Potassium
    Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

    . On a per serving basis (1/4 cup) dried fruits are among the top 50 contributors of these nutrients among all foods in the American diet. Amongst all fruits, they are among the top 5 contributors of potassium and fiber.
  • Dried fruits also provide essential nutrients that are otherwise low in today's diets, such as vitamin A
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

     (apricots and peaches), calcium
    Calcium
    Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

     (figs), vitamin K
    Vitamin K
    Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat soluble vitamins that are needed for the posttranslational modification of certain proteins required for blood coagulation and in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue. They are 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives...

     (dried plums
    Prune
    A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

    ), iron
    Iron
    Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

    , and copper
    Copper
    Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

    . Raisin
    Raisin
    Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

    s and dried plums are among the 50 major contributors of boron
    Boron
    Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

     in the American diet raisins having the highest concentration at 2.2 mg per 100 g. Boron, a putative trace element
    Trace element
    In analytical chemistry, a trace element is an element in a sample that has an average concentration of less than 100 parts per million measured in atomic count, or less than 100 micrograms per gram....

     is important for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones and joints.
  • Traditional dried fruit
    Traditional dried fruit
    Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums , apricots and peaches. It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have...

    s have no added sugar
    Sugar
    Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

    s. Drying removes some of the fruits' water and so concentrates their natural sugars. This, however, is normalized by a smaller serving size (e.g. 40 g for raisin
    Raisin
    Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

    s versus 126 g for grape
    Grape
    A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

    s, Nutrition Labeling and Education Act). For this reason, total sugar and energy values are similar between dried and fresh fruit. Most traditional dried fruits have minimal amounts of sucrose, their sugar is in the form of fructose and glucose.

Phytochemicals and other health protective bioactive components


Dried fruits are not only important sources of vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s, mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

s and fiber
Fiber
Fiber is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, similar to lengths of thread.They are very important in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues together....

 in the diet but also provide a wide array of bioactive components or phytochemical
Phytochemical
Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

s. These plant compounds are not designated as traditional nutrients since they are not essential to sustain life, but play a role in health and longevity and have been linked to a reduction in the risk of major chronic disease. Convincing evidence suggest that the benefits of phytochemicals may be even greater than is currently understood, since they affect metabolic pathways and cellular reactions believed to be involved in the etiology of a wide range of chronic disease. However, the precise mechanisms by which specific compounds exert their biological effect remains largely hypothetical and are thus subject of intense investigation. The following are some of these health protective components in dried fruits:
  • Dried fruits are an excellent source of polyphenol
    Polyphenol
    Polyphenols are a structural class of natural, synthetic, and semisynthetic organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units...

    s and phenolic acid
    Phenolic acid
    Phenolic acids are a type of organic compounds. Included in that class are substances containing a phenolic ring and an organic carboxylic acid function ....

    s. These compounds make up the largest group of phytochemicals in the diet and appear to be, at least in part, responsible for the potential benefit associated with the consumption of diets abundant in fruits and vegetables. Different dried fruits have unique phenolic profiles. For example, the most abundant in raisins are the flavonols quercetin
    Quercetin
    Quercetin , a flavonol, is a plant-derived flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and grains. It also may be used as an ingredient in supplements, beverages or foods.-Occurrence:...

     and kaempferol
    Kaempferol
    Kaempferol is a natural flavonol, a type of flavonoid, that has been isolated from tea, broccoli, Delphinium, Witch-hazel, grapefruit,cabbage, kale, beans, endive, leek, tomato, strawberries, grapes, brussels sprouts, apples and other plant sources. Kaempferol is a yellow crystalline solid with a...

     and the phenolic acids caftaric and coutaric acid. Dates contain quercetin, apigenin
    Apigenin
    Apigenin is a flavone that is the aglycone of several glycosides. It is a yellow crystalline solid that has been used to dye wool. Apigenin may contribute to the chemopreventive action of vegetables and fruits...

     and luteolin
    Luteolin
    Luteolin is a yellow crystalline compound. It is a flavonoid; to be specific, it is one of the more common flavones. From preliminary research, it is thought to play a role in the human body possibly as an antioxidant, a free radical scavenger, a promoter of carbohydrate metabolism, or an immune...

    ; dried plums are very high in chlorogenic
    Chlorogenic acid
    Chlorogenic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, a member of a family of naturally occurring organic compounds. These are esters of polyphenolic caffeic acid and cyclitol -quinic acid. It is an important biosynthetic intermediate. It also is one of the phenols found in coffee, bamboo Phyllostachys...

     and neochlorogenic acid
    Neochlorogenic acid
    Neochlorogenic acid is a natural polyphenolic compound found in some types dried fruits and a variety of other plant sources. It is an isomer of chlorogenic acid.Neochlorogenic acid may have potential as a chemopreventive dietary compound....

    s; cranberries and blueberries are high in anthocyanin
    Anthocyanin
    Anthocyanins are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue according to pH...

    s and anthocyanidins.
  • By virtue of their high polyphenol content, dried fruits are an important source of antioxidant
    Antioxidant
    An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

    s in the diet. These phytochemicals are believed to account for a major portion of antioxidant capacity in plant foods. Antioxidants can lower oxidative stress and so prevent oxidative damage to critical cellular components. Dried apricots and peach
    Peach
    The peach tree is a deciduous tree growing to tall and 6 in. in diameter, belonging to the subfamily Prunoideae of the family Rosaceae. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach...

    es are also important sources of carotenoid
    Carotenoid
    Carotenoids are tetraterpenoid organic pigments that are naturally occurring in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae, some bacteria, and some types of fungus. Carotenoids can be synthesized fats and other basic organic metabolic building...

    s. These compounds not only are precursors of vitamin A
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

     but they also have antioxidant activity.
  • Dried fruits such as dried plums
    Prune
    A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

     provide pectin
    Pectin
    Pectin is a structural heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary cell walls of terrestrial plants. It was first isolated and described in 1825 by Henri Braconnot...

    , a soluble fiber that may lower blood cholesterol levels.
  • Dried fruits such as raisin
    Raisin
    Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

    s are a source of prebiotic compounds in the diet. They contain fructooligosacharides like inulin
    Inulin
    Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. They belong to a class of fibers known as fructans. Inulin is used by some plants as a means of storing energy and is typically found in roots or rhizomes...

    , naturally occurring fiber-like carbohydrates that contribute to colon health.
  • Dried fruits contain organic acids such as tartaric acid
    Tartaric acid
    Tartaric acid is a white crystalline diprotic organic acid. It occurs naturally in many plants, particularly grapes, bananas, and tamarinds; is commonly combined with baking soda to function as a leavening agent in recipes, and is one of the main acids found in wine. It is added to other foods to...

     (raisins) and sorbitol
    Sorbitol
    Sorbitol, also known as glucitol, Sorbogem® and Sorbo®, is a sugar alcohol that the human body metabolizes slowly. It can be obtained by reduction of glucose, changing the aldehyde group to a hydroxyl group. Sorbitol is found in apples, pears, peaches, and prunes...

     (dried plums). These organic acids and fiber appear to work synergistically to maintain a healthy digestive system. They may also help increase the bioavailability of minerals in the diet, such as calcium
    Calcium
    Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

     and iron
    Iron
    Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

    .

Health considerations

Glycemic Index of Different Dried Fruits http://www.glycemicindex.com
Fruit center| Glycemic Index
Dates (brand or variety not specified center > 62
Dried Apples (brand not specified) center > 29
Dried Apricots (brand not specified) center > 30
Dried Peaches center > 35
Dried Plums (Sun Sweet) center > 29
Figs (Dessert Maid) center > 61
Raisins (Sun-Maid) center > 54

Glycemic Index


Traditional dried fruit have a low to moderate Glycemic Index (GI) – a measure of how a food affects blood sugar levels. GI measures an individual's response to eating a carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

-containing food (usually 50 grams of available carbohydrates) compared to the individual's response to the same amount of carbohydrates from either white bread or glucose. Carbohydrate containing foods are classified as high (above 70), moderate (56–69), or low (0–55) GI. Foods with high fiber content generally have a low GI. However, other factors also contribute to a food's glycemic response, such as the type of carbohydrate or sugar present, the physical characteristic of the food matrix and the presence of organic acids. All studies assessing the GI of dried fruit show that they are low to moderate GI foods and that the insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 response is proportional to their GI. Factors thought to contribute to this glycemic response include the viscous texture of dried fruits when chewed; their whole food matrix; the presence of phenolic compounds and organic acids and the type of sugar present (about 50% fructose in most traditional dried fruit
Traditional dried fruit
Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums , apricots and peaches. It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have...

).

Oral health



Dried fruit may promote healthy teeth and gums. Contrary to longstanding popular perception that dried fruits such as raisin
Raisin
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

s promote cavities, recent studies indicate that they may benefit oral health. Bioactive compounds found in dried fruit appear to have antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. For example, oleanolic acid
Oleanolic acid
Oleanolic acid or oleanic acid is a naturally occurring triterpenoid, widely distributed in food and medicinal plants, related to betulinic acid. It can be found in Phytolacca americana , and Syzygium spp, garlic, etc...

, oleanolic aldehyde and 5-(hydroxymethyl)-2-furfural found in raisins have been shown to inhibit the growth of two species of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which cause cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivitis, which causes periodontal disease
Periodontal disease
Periodontitis is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium, i.e., the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth...

. Oleanolic acid also blocks in vitro biofilm formation by S. mutans and the adherence of S. mutans to experimental surfaces. This quality is significant because adherence is bacteria's first step in forming dental plaque
Dental plaque
Dental plaque is a biofilm, usually a pale yellow, that develops naturally on the teeth. Like any biofilm, dental plaque is formed by colonizing bacteria trying to attach themselves to a smooth surface...

, the film that accumulates on teeth.

Raisins have been thought of as cariogenic foods because they are sweet and sticky. However, it has been shown that perceived "stickiness" bears little relationship to the actual retention of food particles on tooth surfaces or to the clearance of food-derived sugars from saliva. In these studies, raisins have been shown to exhibit rapid clearing rates, placing them among the least retentive foods within a sample of 21 commercially available snack foods. Investigators showed that raisins were almost completely cleared from tooth surfaces 5 minutes after chewing and swallowing. It is probable that these properties also apply to other traditional dried fruit
Traditional dried fruit
Traditional or conventional dried fruits are types of dried fruits that are either sun-dried such as raisins and dried figs or dehydrated in wind tunnels and other dryers such as dried plums , apricots and peaches. It also includes dates, which are considered to be dried fruit because they have...

 because they have similar fiber content and physical matrix as raisins.

A recent clinical study investigated raisins and oral health in 7-11 year old children. Researchers measured dental plaque acidogenicity after the children ate raisins, raisin-containing cereal and cereal alone. The plaque pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 was measured prior to and 2, 5, 10, 15 and 30 minutes after consumption of each food. Eating raisins alone did not lower plaque pH below pH 6 over the 30-minute test. This indicates that they did not lower plaque pH to the critical level that would increase the risk of caries. Addition of raisins to bran flakes promoted less plaque pH drop beyond 10 minutes when compared to bran flakes alone. Raisins were less acidogenic than a raisin bran cereal, bran flakes or a 10% sucrose solution. This shows that raisins were less retentive on tooth surfaces and were rapidly cleared after chewing. They also enhanced clearance rate of the chewed cereal particles so that they lowered the acidogenicity when added to bran flakes. While this research has been conducted on raisins, preliminary evidence indicates that these findings may also be replicated using other traditional dried fruit.

Finally, the predominant sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

s in traditional dried fruit are fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

 and glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

, with trace amounts of sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

. It is sucrose that serves as a substrate
Substrate (biochemistry)
In biochemistry, a substrate is a molecule upon which an enzyme acts. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions involving the substrate. In the case of a single substrate, the substrate binds with the enzyme active site, and an enzyme-substrate complex is formed. The substrate is transformed into one or...

 for the synthesis of adherent compounds in dental plaque
Dental plaque
Dental plaque is a biofilm, usually a pale yellow, that develops naturally on the teeth. Like any biofilm, dental plaque is formed by colonizing bacteria trying to attach themselves to a smooth surface...

, the causal agent in tooth decay and gum disease. Studies comparing the cariogenicity of different sugars (sucrose, maltose
Maltose
Maltose , or malt sugar, is a disaccharide formed from two units of glucose joined with an αbond, formed from a condensation reaction. The isomer "isomaltose" has two glucose molecules linked through an α bond. Maltose is the second member of an important biochemical series of glucose chains....

, lactose
Lactose
Lactose is a disaccharide sugar that is found most notably in milk and is formed from galactose and glucose. Lactose makes up around 2~8% of milk , although the amount varies among species and individuals. It is extracted from sweet or sour whey. The name comes from or , the Latin word for milk,...

, fructose and glucose) invariably demonstrate that sucrose, more than any other type of sugar, induces the most smooth-surface-type and fissure-type caries.

Food safety


Dried fruit has a long history of food safety. The high drying and processing temperatures, the intrinsic low pH of the fruit, the low water activity (moisture content) and the presence of natural antimicrobial compounds in dried fruit make them a remarkable stable food. There is no known incident of a food-borne illness related to dried fruit.

Dried fruit and sulfite sensitivity. Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 is used as an antioxidant
Antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

 in some dried fruits to protect their color and flavor. For example, in golden raisins, dried peaches, apples and apricots sulfur dioxide is used to keep them from losing their light color by blocking browning reactions which darkens fruit and alter their flavor. Over the years, sulfur dioxide and sulfite
Sulfite
Sulfites are compounds that contain the sulfite ion SO. The sulfite ion is the conjugate base of bisulfite. Although the acid itself is elusive, its salts are widely used.-Structure:...

s have been used by many populations for a variety of purposes. Sulfur dioxide was first employed as a food additive in 1664, and was later approved for such use in the United States as far back as the 1800s. Humanity's longstanding experience with sulfite use has led us to regard them as harmless and convenient compounds. However, sulfur dioxide, while harmless to healthy individuals, can induce asthma
Asthma
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath...

 when inhaled or ingested by sensitive people. The Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 (FDA) estimates that one out of a hundred people is sulfite-sensitive (allergic), and about 5% of asthmatics are also at risk of suffering an adverse reaction. Given that about 10% of the population suffers from asthma, this figure translates to approximately 500,000 people with potential for sulfite-sensitivity. These individuals make up the subgroup of greatest concern and are largely aware of the need to avoid sulfite-containing foods. Consequently, the FDA requires food manufactures and processors to disclose the presence of sulfiting agents in concentrations of at least 10 parts per million
Parts-per notation
In science and engineering, the parts-per notation is a set of pseudo units to describe small values of miscellaneous dimensionless quantities, e.g. mole fraction or mass fraction. Since these fractions are quantity-per-quantity measures, they are pure numbers with no associated units of measurement...

.

Questionable sources of dried fruit. In Taipei
Taipei
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...

, Taiwan, a recent city health survey found one-third of tested dried fruit products failed health standard tests, most having excessive amounts of sodium cyclamate, some at levels 20 times higher than the legal limit.

Bone health


Dried fruits, particularly dried plums
Prune
A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

, may promote bone health. Research conducted with dried plums indicates that they have a role in supporting bone health. This may be because they are rich in phenolic compounds, such as phenolic acids and lignan
Lignan
The lignans are a group of chemical compounds found in plants. Lignans are one of the major classes of phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-like chemicals and also act as antioxidants. The other classes of phytoestrogens are the isoflavones and coumestans...

s, which may stimulate bone formation and enhance osteoblast
Osteoblast
Osteoblasts are mononucleate cells that are responsible for bone formation; in essence, osteoblasts are specialized fibroblasts that in addition to fibroblastic products, express bone sialoprotein and osteocalcin.Osteoblasts produce a matrix of osteoid, which is composed mainly of Type I collagen...

 activity. Animal studies have shown that dried plums protect, and even reverse, bone loss in models of osteopemia (low bone mineral density, a precursor to osteoporosis
Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis the bone mineral density is reduced, bone microarchitecture is deteriorating, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone is altered...

). For example, feeding dried plums reduced loss of bone in ovariectomized rats in a dose dependant fashion. It also increased circulating insulin-like growth factor
Insulin-like growth factor
The insulin-like growth factors are proteins with high sequence similarity to insulin. IGFs are part of a complex system that cells use to communicate with their physiologic environment...

 (IGF-1). Serum IGF-1 is known to stimulate bone formation, osteoblast activity, and collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

 synthesis and has a role in bone remodeling. A follow-up study showed that dried plums restored loss of tibial and femoral density in an osteopenic rat model of osteoporosis. Various doses of dried plums were also able to significantly improve trabecular bone structure and increase tibial bone volume and connectivity. These observations are unique because it is believed that once bone volume and connectivity are lost they cannot be brought back to normal. In studies where bone loss was produced by skeletal unloading, a diet containing dried plums also enhanced bone recovery by increasing bone mineral density and trabecular bone structure. The effect was similar to parathyroid hormone
Parathyroid hormone
Parathyroid hormone , parathormone or parathyrin, is secreted by the chief cells of the parathyroid glands as a polypeptide containing 84 amino acids...

 treatment.

In vitro studies have shown that dried plum polyphenol
Polyphenol
Polyphenols are a structural class of natural, synthetic, and semisynthetic organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units...

s suppress osteoclast
Osteoclast
An osteoclast is a type of bone cell that removes bone tissue by removing its mineralized matrix and breaking up the organic bone . This process is known as bone resorption. Osteoclasts were discovered by Kolliker in 1873...

 differentiation and activity under normal, oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions. These studies also show that dried plum enhances osteoblast ALP activity, calcified nodule formation and type I collagen cross-linking. These changes may be mediated by up regulating transcription and growth factors.
In addition to animal studies, the findings of a short-term (3 month) clinical trial showed that the consumption of dried plums (100 grams per day) by postmenopausal women significantly increased markers of bone formation including serum total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, bone-specific ALP activity and IGF-1. Currently, a 1-year comparative control randomized study is being conducted to confirm these findings and to determine whether dried plum increases bone mass or prevents further bone loss in osteopemic postmenopausal women.
While the mechanism of action of dried plums remains to be elucidated, researchers believe that phenolic compounds may be the major bone protective agents. However, essential nutrients like vitamin K
Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a group of structurally similar, fat soluble vitamins that are needed for the posttranslational modification of certain proteins required for blood coagulation and in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue. They are 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone derivatives...

 and minerals like potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 and the trace element boron
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

 may contribute to their beneficial effect. Dried plums are also high in copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, which is essential for bone building processes as it is a co-factor of lysyl oxidase
Lysyl oxidase
Lysyl oxidase also known as protein-lysine 6-oxidase is a protein that, in humans, is encoded by the LOX gene. Its inhibition can cause lathyrism, but, at the same time, its upregulation by tumor cells may promote metastasis of the existing tumor, causing it to become malignant and cancerous.-...

. This enzyme promotes cross-linking of lysine residues in collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

 and elastin
Elastin
Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched. Elastin is also an important load-bearing tissue in the bodies of...

.

Intestinal health


Dried fruits promote digestive health. There is considerable research supporting the role of dried fruit in regulating bowel function and maintaining a healthy digestive system. Dried plums
Prune
A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

 are well known in common experience to alleviate constipation. Some researchers ascribe it to their high fiber content: the combination of soluble (49%) and insoluble fiber (51%) in dried plums probably acts in a gentle way in the lower intestines, softening stool increasing bulk and promoting intestinal motility. More recent research indicates that they also provide prebiotic compounds such as fructans, which help to maintain intestinal balance and colonic health.

Weight management


Dried fruits may contribute to healthy body weights. Emerging data suggests that dried fruit intake is not associated with higher body weight. On the contrary, recent analysis of NHANES (1999–2004) data indicates that diets high in dried fruits are associated with lower Body Mass Index
Body mass index
The body mass index , or Quetelet index, is a heuristic proxy for human body fat based on an individual's weight and height. BMI does not actually measure the percentage of body fat. It was invented between 1830 and 1850 by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet during the course of developing...

 (BMI), reduced overweight and obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

 and improved diet quality. Moreover, after adjusting for potential cofounders (socioeconomic status, education, exercise), these data show that prevalence of overweight/obesity and prevalence of abdominal obesity are lower for those who consume dried fruits than for those who did not. Finally, emerging data suggest that dried fruit promotes satiety by affecting the levels of hormones such as leptin
Leptin
Leptin is a 16 kDa protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. It is one of the most important adipose derived hormones...

 that regulate appetite.

Healthy diet


Dried fruits meet dietary guidelines for daily fruit servings and address barriers to fruit intake. The greatest benefit of including dried fruits regularly in the diet is that it is a means to expand overall consumption of fruit and the critical nutrients they contain. Dried fruits have the advantage of being very easy to store and distribute, they are readily incorporated into other foods and recipes, relatively low cost and present a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. The scientific basis for the recommendations to increase fruit consumption in the diet by health authorities is the epidemiological evidence that individuals who regularly eat generous amounts of these foods have lower rates of cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease
Heart disease or cardiovascular disease are the class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels . While the term technically refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system , it is usually used to refer to those related to atherosclerosis...

, obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

, several cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

s, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Dried fruits, with their unique combination of essential nutrients, fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

 and bioactive compounds are a convenient step toward healthier eating and a means to bridge the gap between recommended intake of fruits and the amount Americans actually consume.


Commercial products and food industry applications


Fruits can be dried whole (e.g. grapes, berries, apricot, plum), in halves, or as slices, (e.g. mango, papaya, kiwi). Alternatively they can be chopped after drying (e.g. dates), made into pastes, or concentrated juices. The residual moisture content can vary from small (3 – 8%) to substantial (16 – 18%), depending on the type of fruit. Fruits can also be dried in puree form, as leather, or as a powder, by spray of drum drying. They can be freeze dried
Freeze drying
Freeze-drying is a dehydration process typically used to preserve a perishable material or make the material more convenient for transport...

: fresh fruit is frozen and placed in a drying chamber under vacuum. Heat is applied and water evaporates from the fruit while still frozen". The fruit becomes very light and crispy and retains much if its original flavor. Dried fruit is widely used by the confectionery, baking, and sweets industries. Food manufacturing plants use dried fruits in various sauces, soups, marinades, garnishes, puddings, and food for infants and children. As ingredients in prepared food, dried fruit juices, purées and pastes impart sensory and functional characteristics to recipes:
  • The high fiber content provides water absorbing and water binding capabilities, tenderization and nutritional enhancement.
  • Organic acids such as sorbitol, act as humectants, provide dough and batter stability, and control of water activity.
  • Fruit-sugars add sweetness, humectancy, surface browning and control water activity.
  • Fruit acids, such as malic acid and tartaric acid, contribute to flavor enhancement and act as anti-microbial agents (suppress mold and bacterial growth).
  • Vitamins and minerals increase nutritional value and label appeal.
  • Phenolic compounds slow down lipid oxidation in meats. They add a natural caramel color.

See also

  • Dried vine fruit
    Dried vine fruit
    Dried vine fruit may refer to:* Sultana * Raisin* Zante currant...

     - generic term for dried grapes that includes raisins, sultanas and currants
  • List of seeds, nuts and fruit for snack

Further reading

  • Al-Sahib W and Marshall RJ. The fruit of the date palm
    Date Palm
    The date palm is a palm in the genus Phoenix, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around the Persian Gulf. It is a medium-sized plant, 15–25 m tall, growing singly or forming a clump with...

    : Its possible use as the best food for the future? J Food Science Nutr 2003; 54: 247-59
  • Carughi A. Health Benefits of Sun-Dried Raisin
    Raisin
    Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

    s. http://www.raisins.net/Raisins_and_Health_200810.pdf
  • Grivetti LE and Applegate EA. From Olympia to Atlanta: Agricultural-historic perspective on diet and athletic training. J Clinical Nutr 1997; 127:S860-868
  • Hooshmand S and Arjmandi BH. Viewpoint: Dried plum
    Prune
    A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

    , and emerging functional food that may effectively improve bone health. Ageing Res Reviews 2009; 8: 122-7
  • Slavin JL. Figs
    Ficus
    Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae. Collectively known as fig trees or figs, they are native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the semi-warm temperate zone. The Common Fig Ficus is a genus of...

    : Past, present and future. Nutrition Today 2006; 41:180-18

External links


  • Drying Apples http://www.simplysetup.com/simple-living-2/drying-apples.html
  • California Dates Administrative Committee http://www.datesaregreat.com
  • California Fig Advisory Board http://www.californiafigs.com
  • California Dried Plum Board http://www.californiadriedplums.org
  • California Raisin Marketing Board http://www.calraisins.org
  • Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation http://www.nutfruit.org
  • Sun-Maid Growers of California http://www.sun-maid.com
  • Sunsweet http://www.sunsweet.com/nutrition/