What to know about raisins

Cancer
In general, and when people consume them in moderation, raisins are a healthful, tasty food to add to the diet. Raisins are a good source of essential nutrients, minerals, and energy in the form of calories and sugars.

Raisins themselves make a quick and simple snack throughout the day. People can use them as a topping for yogurt or cereals, and they can also include them in many other products, such as baked goods, trail mix, and granola.

Benefits

Raisins on a wooden spoon
Raisins can aid digestion and fight cancer cells.

Raisins can be a helpful and beneficial addition to the diet.

Aid in digestion

Raisins may be a simple way to help keep the digestive system healthy. Raisins contain helpful soluble fibers, which give body to the stool and help it pass through the intestines easier. This may help improve digestion and promote regularity.

Prevent anemia

Raisins may play a part in preventing anemia. They contain good amounts of iron, copper, and vitamins that are essential for making red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body.

Prevent too much acidity

Raisins contain substantial amounts of beneficial minerals, such as iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. These are alkaline, or basic, minerals on the pH scale and may help balance acidity levels in the stomach.

Lower risk of heart disease risk factors

A study posted to Postgraduate Medicine noted that regularly eating raisins may help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure rate, when compared to other snacks. This is because raisins are a low sodium food that also contains a good source of potassium, which helps the blood vessels relax.

Fight against cancer cells

Raisins are also a good source of antioxidant compounds.

Dietary antioxidants are essential, as they may protect the body from oxidative damage and free radicals. Oxidative damage and free radicals are risk factors in many types of cancer, tumor growth, and aging.

Protect eye health

Raisins contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may protect the cells in the eyes from free radical damage. This may in turn help protect the eyes from eye disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Improve skin health

Antioxidants may help keep the skin cells young and prevent damage from aging cells. Raisins also contain valuable nutrients, such as vitamin C, selenium, and zinc. This combination of nutrients and antioxidants may be a helpful addition to a diet that focuses on creating good skin health.

Lower blood sugar

The Postgraduate Medicine study also noted that compared to eating other snacks, regularly eating raisins may help lower a person’s blood sugar. Even though raisins contain a more concentrated amount of sugars than fresh fruit, raisin intake compared to processed snacks decreased hemoglobin a1c, which is a marker of blood sugar management.

This means that a serving of raisins may be an excellent way to satisfy a sweet craving.


Are there risks of eating raisins?

While raisins are generally beneficial, there are some times when raisins may not be the best snack.

For instance, people looking to reduce their calorie intake may want to be careful about eating large amounts of raisins. While a single raisin contains the same number of calories as a single grape, raisins are much smaller. This can easily lead to eating too many calories.

Another concern about eating too many raisins is the increase in soluble fiber. Too much fiber may cause gastrointestinal upset, such as cramps, gas, and bloating. Some people may even develop diarrhea. However, it is important to note that this would only result from eating a significant amount of raisins since they do not contain excessively high amounts of fiber.

Lastly, because of their small size, people prone to choking and small children may need to avoid raisins and opt for fresh fruit instead.

However, enjoying raisins in moderation is generally safe.

Nutrition of raisins

Raisins and grapes
A typical serving of raisins contains 129 calories and 1.42 g of protein.

Raisins are dried grapes, which are the fruit from the Vitis vinifera plant. Because of this, their nutritional content will be similar to that of grapes.

There are some exceptions, however. For instance, while both are good sources of certain antioxidants, raisins may contain higher levels than grapes. This is because the drying process preserves the antioxidants. The drying also significantly decreases the vitamin C content.

A typical serving size of raisins is about 1 ounce (oz), a small box, or about 40–50 grams (g).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nutritional facts for a serving around this size are:

Calories – 129

Protein – 1.42 g

Fats – 0.11 g

Carbohydrates – 34.11 g

Sugars – 28.03 g

Dietary fiber – 1.9 g

The same serving size also contains some valuable vitamins and minerals, including:

Vitamin C – 1 milligram (mg)

Calcium – 27 mg

Iron – 0.77 mg

Magnesium – 15 mg

Potassium – 320 mg

Phosphorous – 42 mg

Sodium – 11 mg

As a study posted to the Journal of Nutritional Health notes, raisins have very high antioxidant levels and phenol content compared to other popular dried fruits.

Specifically, raisins are a good source of antioxidants called flavonol glycosides and phenolic acids, and they have an ORAC value of about 3,400. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and reflects the antioxidant value of a food.

It is worth noting that while the types of antioxidants and ORAC score of a fruit are important, it is crucial that these antioxidants are bioavailable, meaning the body can use them easily.

The review notes that the body can use antioxidants in raisins efficiently, which may make them a simple and effective source of dietary antioxidants.


Can you make your own raisins?

Raisins are the result of removing the moisture from a grape. Standard raisins typically derive from seedless grapes, though it is possible to produce raisins from most grapes.

While store-bought raisins are generally all natural, and inexpensive, with organic options available, some people prefer making their own. Luckily, making raisins is simple and straightforward using either a food dehydrator or oven.

Follow these steps to make raisins in a dehydrator or oven:

  1. Thoroughly wash the grapes, picking out any damaged grapes.
  2. Strain the extra water in a colander.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the grapes for a minute or so, just long enough to soften the skin.
  4. Strain the grapes again and remove all excess moisture.
  5. Add the grapes to an oiled baking tray or clean dehydrator tray.
  6. For ovens, cook the grapes at 225°F for about 3 hours.
  7. For dehydrators, set the temperature to 135°F and dehydrate for about 24 hours or until the excess moisture is gone.
  8. Store uneaten raisins in an airtight container.

Raisins make a great addition to many diets. Eat them alone or enjoy them in a variety of other ways, such as:

  • sprinkled on a fresh green salad
  • added to a cooked broccoli salad or coleslaw
  • sprinkled on oatmeal or other breakfast cereals
  • added to some curries or spiced rice dishes
  • added to baked goods or pancakes to add sweetness without refined sugar

Summary

Raisins can be a simple way to add fruit, healthful nutrients and antioxidants to the diet. Regularly eating raisins may help keep the body healthy and prevent some disorders.

However, it is essential to eat raisins in moderation as they are high in sugars and calories, which may be an important factor for people to consider if they are trying to lose weight.

Overall, raisins are a healthful food and make a great addition to many diets.

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