In the same way that a date is a dried plum, a raisin is the dried form of a grape. Both green and purple grapes are made into raisins, and are used in a lot of different ways around the world. We tend to think of raisins being an unhealthy food since they contain much more sugar than its grape form, but raisins provide some benefits of their own. Not only that, but they make for a great treat when you need one every now and then.
So even though raisins get a little bit of a bad reputation in the health community, there are plenty of positives that you can take away from them, as they’re not just sugar. To show you why grapes are OK to have as part of your diet, let’s take a closer look at the nutritional breakdown and some of the proven health benefits that you get from eating raisins.
Nutrition of Raisins
Since raisins require more sugar to produce compared to grapes, they are a bit higher in calories with 83 per one ounce serving. Raisins provide a small amount of protein, and nearly 10 percent of your suggestion for dietary fiber. Since raisins are usually eaten in smaller servings, there aren’t incredibly high amounts of nutrients in each serving, but provide a nice base in many categories.
Raisins provide around five percent of your daily recommendation for vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6. In terms of minerals, potassium is the most abundant at nearly 10 percent, while you also get significant amounts of iron, copper and manganese. Other minerals in smaller amounts include calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Lastly, there’s almost no fat in each serving of raisins with no cholesterol, adding in a nice balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
One of the first things you notice when looking at the nutritional content of raisins is the solid amount of fiber you get in a small serving. If you’re one of the more than 90 percent of United States citizens that doesn’t get enough fiber in your diet, you could be experiencing some annoying side effects. Among these is constipation, which is caused mostly by a lack of getting enough fiber.
Raisins, just like dates, are great laxatives. Adding the fiber into your diet from raisins keeps you regular, while also helping you in other ways. Fiber creates probiotics in your gut to combat harmful bacteria, relieving digestive problems that range far and wide. Though it might take a few days to get used to a high fiber diet, it’s certainly worth it and you’ll feel a huge difference once you make the switch.
While pretty much every fruit (and even forms like raisins) can help you prevent diseases, it’s certain antioxidants that really make the difference. Raisins can reduce your chances of cancer thanks to the antioxidant known as catechin. Along with other antioxidants such as vitamins found within raisins, they can attack the free radicals that roam in your body and have been found to attack cells.
The high amount of fiber in raisins contribute to attacking colon cancer in particular, while the antioxidants can fight off all forms. Even other diseases from foreign bodies such as viruses can be prevented when you’re eating raisins as they can kill bacteria. Though you’ll probably grab an orange if you’re feeling sick, raisins are a nice thing to have in a pinch.
If you’re one of the many people that struggles to gather enough energy throughout the day, you could certainly use a boost. Raisins are one of those foods that can provide energy in both the short and long term. The sugars within raisins can give you a short burst of energy that won’t have as bad of a crash as other sugars because of the high amount of fiber.
As for the long run, raisins can help boost your natural energy because of the B vitamins and copper. These nutrients allow you to produce more red blood cells that carry oxygen to the organs in your body. Raisins also contain arginine, which has been found to also help increase your energy while even boosting your libido. Even before the science was found, raisins were used for this reason.
Once you get older, you start to lose density and strength in your bones, which can lead to the often diagnosed osteoporosis. There are essential nutrients that you need to take in to make sure this doesn’t happen to your bones, starting with calcium. There’s a small amount in raisins, but there are other nutrients that combine with calcium to increase bone strength.
Among these are boron, phosphorus and magnesium. When you get these in your diet, they’ll combine to absorb into your bones, reducing your chances of osteoporosis. Raisins even help prevent arthritis and gout thanks to their ability to lower acidity in your body and further protecting your bones and joints. There aren’t many people that give much thought to their bones until it’s too late, so protect them as soon as you can.
Strong antioxidants found within raisins not only help you to fend off a lot of different diseases, but can even keep your vision strong as you get older. When we age, we tend to start losing our vision and even develop problems such as macular degeneration. To fend off this problem, we need to add more antioxidants and vitamin A into our diets. They’ll fight off the free radicals that create eye diseases, while also forming stronger functions in your eyes.
Summing it Up
While raisins might be the sweeter form of one of your favorite fruits, you have to make sure that you’re not eating too many at one time. Sure, raisins make for a great treat, but grapes should have a bigger place in your diet. Most of the calories that come from raisins actually come from simple sugars, meaning that they should be eaten only once in awhile. Eating too many can affect your blood sugar, possibly leading to diabetes.
Having the recommended serving size of raisins just once or twice a week shouldn’t have any long term side effects, especially if you’re not eating many other sugars outside of them. Eating too many could also cause temporary digestive problems because of the high amount of fiber, but if you are used to a high fiber diet, you probably won’t notice an effect. With these things in mind, you can enjoy raisins in moderation as a great treat when you don’t want the standard fruit!