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New research: Dried fruit consumption improves diet quality

12/7/2020  By Jeannie Swedberg

 

New research: Dried fruit consumption improves diet quality

Before discussing this recent research study – which is further evidence of the nutritional benefits of eating fruit – wanted to mention this: Only one in 10 American adults eats the daily recommendation of fruit, according to the CDC. Yep, just 10%. In case you are wondering, vegetable consumption isn’t any better. Bottom line – as a population, we have lots of room to improve here…and that’s why the aforementioned research is interesting. It suggests possibilities.

So, let’s get back to the research. The study published in October in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that people who ate dried fruit had better overall diet quality than people who didn’t eat fruit (dried or fresh). The researchers did a cross-sectional analysis of the 2007 – 2016 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data to assess diet quality and cardiometabolic health between dried fruit eaters and non-eaters. Improved diet quality wasn’t the only benefit for people who regularly ate dried fruit, they were also more likely to get enough under-consumed nutrients, such as potassium and fiber compared to non-dried fruit eaters1.

The researchers were interested in looking into dried fruit consumption specifically because it may remove one of the barriers to regular fruit consumption, which is access to fresh fruit. Food deserts and the perishability of fresh fruit limit consumption for some people. With dried fruit, perishability isn’t generally an issue, and it’s easily portioned and ready-to-eat. Another benefit of dried fruit is it often contains more fiber, vitamins and minerals per serving than fresh fruit. One thing to note, though, is while the drying process can deplete some nutrients in dried fruit, studies show it can also increase some phenolic compounds – antioxidants.   

Possibilities

This NHANES analysis just confirms dried fruit is another way to increase overall fruit consumption. And as previously noted, as a population we’re not doing very well with eating fruit. So, anything that removes a barrier is a positive. Dried fruit may be a way to close the overall fruit consumption gap a bit, especially since people claim to be looking for ways to improve their diet and want immune-enhancing foods. It’s a convenient, tasty option.

One-half cup of dried fruit is considered one serving of fruit. Dried fruit can easily be incorporated into many applications from snack mixes to cereals to bars and more. One advantage of using dried fruit in applications is that it can add natural sweetness without the need for a sweetener. Another is the added fiber—dried fruit contains up to 3.5 times the fiber of fresh fruit.

Dried fruit is often underused as an ingredient because people think it isn’t as healthy as fresh fruit. Of course, here at Tree Top we know that’s not the case. This research is a good reminder though that dried fruit can improve diet quality. So, if this has you thinking about formulating with more dried fruit, we’d love to brainstorm ideas with you. Contact us. 
You can also order a dried fruit sample directly from our website.

1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33127327/
J Acad Nutr Diet. 2020 Oct 27;S2212-2672(20)31227-2.
doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.08.085.Online ahead of print.

Consumption of Dried Fruits Is Associated with Greater Intakes of Under consumed Nutrients, Higher Total Energy Intakes, and Better Diet Quality in US Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007-2016
Valerie K Sullivan, Muzi Na, David N Proctor, Penny M Kris-Etherton, Kristina S Petersen