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In this fast-paced world, you always look for shortcuts in anything you do, even when it comes to food intake. Dry fruits and nuts are the perfect ‘quick-fix’ food that most people depend on to satiate those uninvited hunger pangs, especially when they are running against time or are trying to stick to their diet.
What are Dried or Dry Fruits and Nuts?
These snacks are all the healthy nuts and dried fruits like almonds, cashew, raisins, prunes, etc., that you find in markets and department stores all around you. Dried fruits are basically fresh fruits that have been dried. Fruits are dehydrated by conventional sun-drying or other drying techniques. They shrivel up and the pulpy remains are the dry fruits that you enjoy at breakfast or during those mid-meal breaks. As the water content is removed, the fruits become energy-bombs with concentrated nutrients.
Some of the most common dry fruits and nuts are raisins, cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts, dates, figs, prunes and apricots. Some varieties of dried fruits like mangoes, pineapples, cranberries, etc., are also available in sugar-coated candied versions. Of these, dry fruits devoid of any additives are the best for your body.
Amazing Benefits of Dried or Dry Fruits You Should Definitely Know About
Walnuts and almonds for the brain, cashews to fight migraine, apricots for healthy eyes and raisins for digestion – these are only a few benefits of dried fruits and nuts. Dry fruits also help the body in the following ways:
1. Boost Immunity and Help Fight Diseases
Loaded with essential nutrients, the benefits of dry fruits and nuts for health cannot be overlooked. Dry fruits increase your nutrient intake as they are rich in potassium, iron, folate, calcium and magnesium. The antioxidants boost your immunity, keeping you healthy and free from diseases and other illnesses.
2. Help Combat Cancer
If you have grown up having soaked almonds, then you have been fighting cancer right from the start. Almonds and cashew nuts are known to curtail breast cancer. Phytonutrients, found in apricots and apples, act as antioxidants and prevent the growth of cancer-causing cells. Nuts like pistachios prevent the growth of tumours especially in the lungs and the prostate. Brazil nuts and walnuts also fight cancer cells in the body.
3. Help With Weight Loss
People who include nuts and dried fruits in their diet are well-aware of dry fruits’ benefits for weight loss. When consumed in moderation, they help you reduce weight and stay fit. Those who swear by dry fruits are known to take in lesser fats, sugar and more essential nutrients for proper metabolism.
4. Fight Constipation
Dry fruits like anjeer or figs have many benefits as they are rich in fibres which ensure a healthy bowel. Fibre helps the body remove waste from the body smoothly. Other fibrous dry fruits include prunes and dried apricots. Pistachios and dates make your bowel more flexible and, therefore, relieve constipation.
5. Keep Your Tummy Healthy
Prunes and other dried fruits have fibres, both soluble and insoluble, which improve digestion and keep your stomach and gut healthy. The soluble fibres act as a probiotic and maintain the required good bacteria. The laxative properties of almonds and walnuts help maintain a happy gut.
6. Have Anti-ageing and Skin-friendly Properties
If dry fruits in face-masks can work wonders, then wouldn’t it make sense to include them in your diet? Radiant and glowing skin and controlling ageing are some of the benefits that dry fruits offer your skin. Almonds and pistachios help remove dead skin cells and walnuts prevent dry skin.
7. Fight Anaemia and Boost Haemoglobin
Raisins and prunes are rich in iron and are beneficial for those who are anaemic. Dry fruits are packed with nutrients like Vitamin B, minerals like phosphorous and copper, and unsaturated fats that boost the regeneration of blood cells and haemoglobin in the body. Almonds, figs, pistachios and cashew nuts also give energy and build stamina.
8. Help Maintain a Healthy Heart
Raisins play a significant role in lowering systolic blood pressure. They control cholesterol and reduce inflammatory markers in the body. Almonds contain Vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids that prevent spikes in cholesterol levels and maintain it at a healthy optimum. Brazil nuts keep a check on blood pressure as they are a source of potassium, magnesium and calcium. As you can see, dry fruits and nuts reduce the risk of heart diseases, stroke and heart attacks.
9. Improve Bone Health
Dried plums support bone formation and they also enhance bone health. Dry fruits also help in improving bone density making the bones stronger and protecting them from excessive wear and tear.
10. Fight Depression and Anxiety
Dry fruits are a rich source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that battles anxiety and depression in people. These antioxidants also improve memory. Dry fruits help to improve sleep and enhance learning and performance.
Are There Any Side Effects of Eating Dried Fruits?
Since dried foods do not contain water, they are packed with concentrated sugar and are high on calories. They also have reduced Vitamin C and lesser antioxidants than fresh fruits. This may pose a threat to our health if not consumed in moderation. Some of the side effects of eating dried fruits are:
- The high sugar content increases the risk of diabetes.
- Dried fruits with the extra calories can be a major reason for weight gain.
- They are also known to augment heart-related issues if consumed in unhealthy quantities.
- Sulphites found in dried fruits can cause asthma attacks and also trigger allergies, rashes and stomach cramps in some cases.
1. How are Dried Fruits Different from Nuts?
There is a very thin line of difference between dried fruits and nuts. Often nuts are referred to as dry fruits and these can be easily confused with dried fruits. In India, the term ‘dry fruits’ is used loosely for both dried fruits and nuts.
Nuts or dry fruits are the seeds found in a seedpod (dehiscent) or those seeds that are not enclosed in a pod (indehiscent). These include cashew, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. They also contain healthy fats essential for our body.
Dried fruits, on the other hand, are fleshy fruits that are dried using various natural or synthetic techniques. Raisins, apricots, dried figs and cherries, dehydrated bananas, kiwis and apples are examples of dried fruits. In addition to vitamins and minerals, dried foods are loaded with antioxidants that boost immunity.
2. Are Dried Fruits as Healthy as Fresh Fruits?
Fresh fruits are a healthier choice when compared to dried fruits. Their nutrient content is higher and also, their water content also makes them more hydrating. Dried fruits are high on sugar and calories and are best for travelling, hiking and camping or when you are short of time. They are handy snacks that can pack in some energy in a jiffy. You must incorporate both fresh and dried fruits in your diet for a healthier outcome.
3. What is the Best Time of the Day to Eat Dried Fruits?
Generally, the advantage of dried fruits is that they can be had at any time of the day. However, in order to gain maximum benefits, you must eat them early in the morning. The benefits of eating dry fruits in morning increase manifold if they are soaked the previous night and then consumed.
4. Are Dried Fruits Good for Diabetic Patients?
Contrary to popular belief, dried fruits and nuts can be consumed by diabetic patients as they are known to prevent diabetes. They are rich in quercetin and other types of polyphenols which make them anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory. But sugar-coated dried fruits or those made with sugar syrup must be necessarily avoided.
5. Will I Gain Weight by Eating Dry Fruits?
On the contrary, dry fruits are known to fight obesity and control weight gain. Regular and moderate consumption of dry fruits decreases sugar intake and unwanted calories. You must incorporate dried fruits and nuts in your diet plan to reap maximum benefits. However, stay away from candied and sugar-coated dried fruits.
6. Can I Eat Dry Fruits on an Empty Stomach?
There are absolutely no restrictions on when dry fruits can be consumed. They are perfectly healthy and meet the body’s vitamin and mineral requirements. However, some citrus fruits when had on an empty stomach may cause acidity.
So as you can see, dry fruits pack quite a nutritious punch in your diet, so load up on healthy dry fruits for those tempting snack-times.