Raisins Raise The Bar on Nutrition | Health
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by Lori Zanteson

Raisins Raise The Bar on Nutrition
Health Benefits of Eating Raisins

Raisins have been revered since ancient times. Grapes were dried into tiny wrinkled gems as early as 2,000 BC, when they were eaten and used as decorations during feasts and religious ceremonies, as well as utilized for barter currency and prizes during sporting events by the Romans.

Produced worldwide today, California is the largest producer, tracing back to 1873 when a determined grape grower took his crop, which had been "destroyed" by a heat wave, to market and met instant success. The rest is, indeed, history.

Unlike most dried fruits, and perhaps a tribute to their popularity, dried grapes are uniquely named raisins. Grapes and raisins share the scientific name, Vitus vinifera, though the contrast between the shrunken, wrinkly pellets surrounding their sweet, chewy flesh, are quite the contrast to their plump, juicy counterpart. Grape varieties, such as Thompson seedless, Muscat, Sultana, and Malaga are the most popular to dehydrate, whether by sun or oven drying. A one-quarter cup serving of raisins delivers six percent Daily Value (DV, based on 2,000 calories per day) of satiating dietary fiber, nine percent DV of heart-healthy potassium, and a dose of health protecting antioxidants, though, because most raisins are made from white grapes, they do not contain a significant amount of resveratrol, as do red grapes.

The health benefits of eating raisins are many. Several new studies on raisins and health were published in the June 2013 Journal of Food Science. One such study shows that raisins and grapes eaten as an afternoon snack led to a lower overall food intake among children, compared to eating other common snacks, like chips or cookies.

Not only did raisins give a feeling of fullness, they also provided important nutrients, such as potassium and iron. Another study, a scientific review of almost 80 studies, also published in the journal, shows that raisins have the potential to reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease, and that raisin consumption contributes to improved blood glucose control for diabetics, and also can be helpful for weight loss and management.

Raisins are readily available year-round, both in bulk and small packages. Choose richly colored, moist raisins when you can hand select or see them through the packaging. Store them in an airtight container, and refrigerate or freeze for longest life--up to six months.

Pour a little hot water over them to "plump" them before use. Especially delicious in baked scones, quick breads and muffins, raisins are easily tossed onto hot or cold cereals, yogurts and salads, as well as added to pilafs and stuffing, trail mix, or eaten straight out of hand.

Notable Nutrients

Raisins, seeded (1 ounce)

Calories: 83

Dietary fiber: 2 g (8 percent DV)

Potassium: 231 mg (7 percent DV)

Copper: 0.1 g (7 percent DV)

Iron: 0.7 g (4 percent DV)

Manganese: 0.1 mg (6 percent DV)


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Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency, LLC

"Raisins Raise The Bar on Nutrition"




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