What Are Dry Fruits?
Dehydrated fruits and nuts were consumed way back in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. King Tut and other pharaohs of Egypt were even buried in their tombs with these delicacies- Which indicates that they were (and still are) the pillar of Mediterranean diets. Why? What is it about this form of fruit that makes it so intriguing? Even now, we can find dry fruits, nuts and trail mix around every corner. The answer lies in the one thing humans strive for – convenience! They are super convenient when there is no refrigerator for storage. Fruits like grapes, cranberries, bananas and mangoes shrink to a smaller size and get sweeter in flavour. Dried fruit can contain up to 3.5 times the amount of nutrients and fiber as fresh fruits. Nuts are dry fruits that have a single seed with hardened ovarian walls. They are stacked with antioxidants that can positively impact your health. (0)
Benefits Of Dry Fruits For Health:
1. Cashew Nuts
These nuts have gained traction as a vegan substitute for dairy. Besides being a creamy rich alternative to butter, cheese and milk, it can be eaten raw or added to other recipes. Cashew nuts are enriched with unsaturated fats, folate and phenolic compounds that reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and atherosclerosis. They prevent the formation of harmful HDL cholesterol in the blood owing to the concentration of sterols in these nuts (1).
Almonds can be consumed in many forms – As butter, milk, etc. All of these have high amounts of vitamin E, fiber, calcium and magnesium. Although they are high in calories, almonds have still been reported to reduce the risk of obesity and manage weight loss. Roasted almonds are higher in antioxidants and phytonutrients as the outer coating is intact. Almonds, being low in fat, also can lower the concentration of harmful lipids in the blood. This may make it a suitable snack for diabetic patients (2).
Have you heard that cranberries are suitable for PCOS and other menstrual-related issues? This is because they are particularly high in polyphenols that provide health benefits. These include anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic properties. Some of the other disorders that you can prevent with dried cranberries are infections in the urinary tract and the gastrointestinal tract. They also have benefits for diabetes, cholesterol and weight management (3).
Hazelnuts are the second most expensive nut because of their incredible flavour and beneficial characteristics. They are a good source of fats, fiber, antioxidants and vitamin E. This supports healthy digestion, reduces the risk of obesity and cell damage. Hazelnuts have cholesterol-lowering properties that prevent hypertension and heart disease (4).
5. Dried Blueberries
Blueberries are sweet, succulents and heaped with antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C and K. They have a compound called anthocyanin that gives them their distinctive blue colour. Regularly eating blueberries may give you healthy bones and help manage the symptoms of diabetes. Research has shown that these fruits affect the gut microflora which in turn affects overall physical and mental health. They also prohibit injury to blood vessels and thus protects the cardiovascular system (5).
6. Dried Figs
Figs contain plenty of calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc that are essential for the body to function optimally. Iron especially is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and keeps us heart-healthy. Consumption of figs may assist the digestive system and prevent constipation. Did you know that figs can help alleviate PMS issues as well? This versatile fruit can also help sustain weight loss (6).
These naturally sweet and sticky dry fruits are used extensively as a natural sweetener in desserts and baked goods. Dates are pumped with protein, fat and dietary fiber. They have an anti-tumour activity that may decrease the risk of cancer and protect genes from mutation. Their anti-bacterial ability may also make them useful as a natural alternative to antibiotics. It has been observed that dates can enhance insulin production, thereby making them suitable for diabetics as well (7). After all, who doesn't love a freshly baked date and walnut loaf?