Dried fruit is made by dehydrating regular fruit so that it is more easily preserved at room temperature. While unprocessed fruit spoils in a matter of days, dried fruit can last for several weeks or longer when stored at room temperature.
It’s an excellent healthy alternative to heavily processed snack foods like chips and pretzels, which are high in refined carbohydrates and are almost devoid of nutrients.
However, you do need to be careful with dried fruits, because some brands include a lot of added sugar which can harm the health benefits associated with dried fruits as a snack food.
Looking for an easy and healthy snack? We’ve ranked the ten best dried fruits to satiate your hunger and improve your health.
1. Mavuno Harvest Dried Fruit
Mavuno Harvest Dried Fruit provides an unique combination of jackfruit, pineapple, and mango in this variety pack.
It’s a good choice if you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, and as an added bonus, all of the ingredients are certified organic and there are no added preservatives or added sugar, making it a great choice for health-conscious consumers.
2. Crispy Green Freeze-Dried Fruit
Crispy Green Freeze-Dried Fruit uses a freeze drying process to make dried fruit that has a distinctive dry and almost chip-like texture.
As such, it’s great for snacking, and for a change of pace from the usual taste and texture of dried fruit. Try the variety pack for freeze-dried apples, pears, and tangerines.
3. Farm Fresh Nuts Dried Mixed Fruits
If you go through a lot of dried fruit on a regular basis, Farm Fresh Nuts Dried Mixed Fruits is by far your best option.
This five-pound package contains apricots, apple, prunes, pears, and peaches, and moreover, contains no added sugar whatsoever. It’s a fantastic choice for high-quality dried fruit that’s got no added sweeteners.
4. Sunrise Fresh Dried Cherries
If you want to harness the supreme antioxidant powers of cherries, Sunrise Fresh Dried Cherries are a great choice. These dried fruits have no added sugar, unlike many of the other berry-based dried fruits on the market, and cherries have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants out there.
While it’s not one for variety, Sunrise Fresh Dried Cherries are still a very solid pick.
5. Mariani Sun-Ripened Mixed Fruit
Mariani Sun-Ripened Mixed Fruit contains a robust variety of fruit, from prunes and apricots to peaches, pears, and apples.
This is a great choice for dried fruit if you want more variety in ingredients than some other competitors offer. The only drawback for some people will be the use of sulfites as a preservative for some of the fruits included in this product.
6. NatureBox Dried Fruit
NatureBox Dried Fruit offers some of the best variety when it comes to dried fruit. Their variety pack includes mango, pineapple, cherry, cranberry, and blueberry.
Moreover, the mango and pineapple don’t include any added sugar (though the others do, so be aware of that if you are trying to cut out added sugar from your diet).
7. Steve’s PaleoGoods Dried Fruit
Steve’s PaleoGoods Dried Fruit has a variety pack that includes dried apples, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries.
The antioxidant power is great, and the purity is pretty good. While there isn’t any cane sugar added, some of the dried berries also included apple juice concentrate, which contains a good bit of sugar.
It’s a solid choice for variety, though if you want to avoid all added sugars, look elsewhere.
8. Anna and Sarah Mini fruit Trail Mix
Anna and Sarah Mini fruit Trail Mix contains diced and dried apples, raisins, pineapple, dates, papaya, and cranberry, which makes it a good source of variety and an easy snack for hiking and camping.
The main drawback is the use of artificial coloring agents and added sugar to augment the appearance and taste of the dried fruits, so if you are looking for an all-natural option, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
9. Gerbs Super 5 Fruit Mix
Gerbs Super 5 Fruit Mix contains a blend of cranberries, raisins, goji berries, and cherries, all of which are well-studied superfoods thanks to their strong antioxidant powers.
However, the benefits of these ingredients might be offset by the high amount of added sugar used to make Gerbs Super 5: each serving has 11 grams of added sugars.
10. Sunbest Tropical Mixed Dried Fruits
Sunbest Tropical Mixed Dried Fruits features Kiwi, Mango, Papaya, and Pineapple, which gives it a distinctively tropical flavor.
On the other hand, people conscious of artificial ingredients will note that it contains Yellow #5 and Yellow #6, as well as added sugar, making it less suitable as a health food.
Dried fruit benefits and side effects
Dried fruit has had all the water removed, so it’s basically a concentration version of the nutrients present in fresh fruit; some hold the opinion dried fruit is healthy, and others say it’s similar to eating candy.
Since most fruits are high in water content, the drying process shrinks fruit down so it ends up extremely energy-dense for its size.
By far the most commonly consumed dried fruit is raisins; other popular choices are prunes, apricots, dates and figs. Some fruits are dried with sugar and labeled as “candied,” such as cranberries, bananas, apples, mangos and pineapples.
Dried fruit keeps for a much longer time than fresh fruit. This makes dried fruit an excellent portable snack for situations where no refrigeration is available.
Since water is the only thing missing from dried fruit, it carries more than three times as many nutrients for its size than fresh fruit.
For example, the folate content of a single serving of dried fruit provides a hefty percentage of the RDI. (1)
Exceptions include vitamin C content, because some is lost in the drying process. (2) But the fiber is still intact, as well as the polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants that bring a range of health benefits. (3)
Polyphenols have been associated with lower levels of oxidative damage in the body, and may improve digestion and circulation; eating foods high in polyphenol antioxidants decreases the risk of developing chronic diseases. (4)
Every food has pros and cons, so let’s take a look at how eating dried fruit can affect your health.
Dried Fruit might help decrease your body weight. Observational studies indicate people who regularly eat dried fruit have lower body weights than those who don’t, as well as ingesting a greater amount of nutrients. (5, 6)
Since these weren’t controlled trials, it’s not possible to be certain participants were lighter or healthier because of the dried fruit they ate, but it does provide good evidence that dried fruit could be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle that can promote weight loss and prevent weight gain.
Raisins are the most popular dried fruit; they are fiber-rich and a good source of potassium, and also deliver other plant compounds known to benefit health. Since the glycemic index of raisins is in the low to moderate range, they are not likely to cause blood sugar spikes after a meal. (7)
People who eat raisins regularly may experience higher satiation levels with meals, potentially resulting in fewer calories consumed. Other benefits include: (8, 9) lower inflammatory markers, decreased cholesterol readings, improvements in blood sugar control and lower blood pressure.
Since these markers are associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, eating raisins could drop the risk of developing these disorders.
Prunes are another dried fruit with notable positive effects on health. Made from plums, prunes are well-known for their laxative effect, and are rich sources of fiber, vitamins A and K, and potassium.
The reason prunes get things moving along inside is more than the fiber content; they are also one of the fruits containing sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, which can stimulate digestion.
A popular remedy for constipation, prunes have been found to improve both consistency and frequency of stools. (10)
Dates are extremely sweet, but the glycemic rating is low, so blood sugar spikes aren’t an issue. (14) Dates provide a higher level of antioxidants than most other fruits, along with fiber, iron and potassium.
One area of extensive testing is the way dates affect women’s health in relation to pregnancy and labor.
Studies indicate women who eat dates during the last trimester of pregnancy are more likely to experience smooth and efficient dilation. (15)
In one study, only 4% of women eating dates over the last weeks of pregnancy needed to have labor induced, while 21% of those who didn’t eat dates required induction. (16)
The primary negative effects of dried fruits usually have to do with their fairly high carb content and, in many cases, substantial amounts of added sugar.
Fruits are loaded with natural sugars, and when they’re dried, the sweetness is concentrated into a much smaller package, so it may be easier to ingest more sugar than intended when snacking.
The glucose and sucrose contents of dried fruits tend to run high, which means calorie counts can be significant.
For example, you’ll get 84 calories from a one-ounce serving of raisins, with virtually all calories coming from sugar.
Some popular dried fruits have quite high sugar content (17). For example, dates and raisins can have sugar contents of 59-66%, while apricots and figs clock in near 50%. Prunes are lower in sugar, at 38%.
Between 22% and 51% of the sugar in fruits comes from fructose. Eating large amounts of fructose has been shown to have negative effects on health, including weight gain and higher risks for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (18)
Read ingredient labels to make sure you don’t buy candied fruit, which has had sugar or syrup added before the drying process. This ups the calorie count even more, and while it’s gauged to increase appeal, it’s certainly overkill, since dried fruit is already quite sweet.
Added sugar in the diet has been fingered as one of the most destructive aspects of the modern diet. Not only does it jack up the risk of obesity, but it increases the chance of developing cancer and heart disease. (19, 20)
Sulfites are often added to dried fruit because they prevent discoloration through acting as a preservative. This is a common strategy for the more brightly colored fruits like apricots or raisins.
People with sulfite sensitivities can experience skin rashes, stomach cramps or asthma attacks after ingesting foods laced with sulfites. (21) Choose fruits that are less colorful, even gray or brownish, to avoid sulfites.
When dried fruit isn’t properly stored, toxic contaminants like fungi can be present, so be cautious about sources. (22)
The upside to including dried fruit in your diet is that it’s rich in fiber and important nutrients. The downside is it’s high in sugar and calories, particularly if you get a brand of dried fruit that has added sugar.
Dried fruit is a much healthier snack than chips or other common junk foods, and it can be beneficial as long as you don’t overdo it.
Stick with small amounts, because the sweet taste makes it easy to help yourself to another handful when an ounce or two would have been enough.