Dry Fruits and Nuts: How healthy are they?
It’s a moment of righteousness isn’t it? You’re on the evening commute. It’s hit the snack witching hour. You watch the others getting out their choice of crisps, chocolates or little snackette then boom! – out you pull your nuts and seeds, tidily measured into a little Tupperware pot. All hail me, ye healthy commuter, and watch me graze.
But are the husks and fruit of the dried variety necessarily doing all the good we think they will? The world of dry fruits and nuts is not just confusing my friend, it is practically chaotic. It would appear that good old Mother Nature decided some time ago that not all snacks of the wholefood variety would be created equal.
Fear not. We are here with our guide to dry fruits and nuts, their nutritional values, benefits and which ones may suit which diet better. Consider yourself a fully-fledged nutty, fruity expert by the time you have consumed the wholesome words on this blog post.
Know your Dry Fruits and Nuts Calorie Content
Let’s start off with a simple breakdown of the calories in some popular dried fruit and nut varieties. Whether you’re counting calories, eating clean, doing keto or analysing macros, chances are calories will feature in your analysis somewhere, so this is a handy table to have.
|Dry Fruits and Nuts||Approx. cal per 100g|
|Dates (Rice Rolled)||304|
|Dates (Sugar Rolled)||304|
|Mixed Cut Peel||321|
*Please note, all calories merely estimates, based on publicly available figures.
Surprised? We were. There’s some huge variance in how much energy each of these little bad boys will give you. And that makes a heck of a difference when you tot it up against what you need for your particular regime.
Firstly, let’s see why fruits and nuts are lauded in so many circles as a healthy and nutritious snack by breaking down the reported characteristics, nutritional values and added benefits of some popular varieties of dried fruit and nut.
Benefits and Nutritional Value of Some Popular Dry Fruits and Nuts
Despite being called a nut, a pistachio is actually a seed. They are a distinctive green colour, with a sweet overtone, encased in a hard shell and about half an inch long.
Pistachios have long been recognised for their benefits and the following values and benefits are commonly reported for them:
- Good source of anti-oxidants such as polyphenols, lutiens and tocopherols
- High levels of unsaturated fats and could lower chances of cardiovascular disease
- High source of potassium, known as an anti-inflammatory
- The fact they have a shell means you need to take your time and savour them as a snack; they are also jam-packed with fibre and minerals such as vitamin B6 and thiamine.
- Are reported to help with eyesight
Walnuts have been eaten for centuries and are used not only as a snack but in all manner of plates such as salads, oils cakes and pastas.
- Rich in Omega 3, Omega 6 and protein
- Good source of fibre
- Have high levels of antioxidants
- High energy food
- Rich in polyunsaturated fats such as linoleic acid
- Contain high levels of ALA, excellent for healthy hearts and with anti-inflammatory properties
- A jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, vitamin E and manganese.
If you aren’t familiar with this fruit then you can recognise them as tiny red berries, often sold in dried or powdered form. They are purported to have excellent medicinal properties as well as being tasty and colourful additions to any dish!
- Believed to protect against age-related eye issues with high levels of zeaxanthin, containing excellent eye-healing properties
- High levels of antioxidants, excellent for the immune system and with anti-inflammatory properties
- Contain beta-carotene, known for supporting healthy skin
Packed full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, dried apricots are a popular snack for old and young alike. A pleasantly sweet overriding taste with a tangy hit make them suitable for many dishes, from curries to baked goods to salads.
- Packed full of fibre
- They are high in sugar though, so you need to be careful of your portion size
- Packed full of Vitamin C, A and potassium
- Dried apricots can contain a higher concentration of nutrients than those of the fresh variety
- Contain boron, good for promoting bone health and healing
- Contain many antioxidants such as flavonoids
Raisins are dried grapes and can be found in countless cuisines and food formats. From scones to fruity curries, they are eaten the world over, often seen as a healthy sweet snack for children.
- They are packed with fiber, potassium and various health-promoting plant compounds.
- Low medium glycaemic and insulin index, making them a safer option for not spiking blood sugar or insulin levels
- Full of fibre, great for heart health and cholesterol management
- Good source of iron, potassium, copper, vitamin B6, manganese and boron. All with excellent health benefits.
But what about all the fats, calories and sugar in dry fruits and nuts?
Even with all of this evidence, it is still sometimes hard to decide whether a handful of dried fruits or nuts actually constitutes a healthy snack. We have all read reports on the amount of fat contained within nuts, and there are many studies showing the sugar content of dried fruit. When we hear something is high in calories, then we associate it with being unhealthy for us.
This can make for conflicting advice and build a seemingly rationalised argument for simply reaching for a bar of chocolate instead!
There are some hugely important reasons why we should still consider nuts and dried fruits healthy options as part of our daily diet instead of reaching for a processed alternative:
- Nuts are high in calorie content because they are chock full of healthy, unsaturated fat, not the unhealthy trans/saturated kinds
- Dried fruit is full of micronutrients and antioxidants, making it highly nutritious
- Both fruit and nuts are loaded with fibre, meaning they are both excellent foods to help with cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health
- Many reports show that regular consumption of nuts can have important glucose and insulin lowering effects
- The naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in fruit and nuts bring great additional health benefits to their consumption
To highlight the excellent properties of dried fruits and nuts compared to alternative, more processed snacks, we have taken some popular options and mapped out the calories, fibre and protein levels for comparison in the table below.
We can see here that fibre is the main magic ingredient that comes with picking the fruit/nut option, far outclassing any of the alternatives. The NHS website makes the following statement about fibre on its website:
Choosing foods with fibre also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation.”
Add to this the added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and type of fat (unsaturated) contained within dry fruits and nuts and we can see the additional benefits snacking on these tasty options can bring (so you definitely can feel smug when you pull out that Tupperware box!)
|Dry Fruits and Nuts||Approx. cal per 100g||Fibre (g) per 100g||Protein (g) per 100g||Protein (g) per 100g||Fibre (g) per 100g||Approx. cal per 100g||Alternative Snack|
|Dried apricots||240||7.3||3.5||3.1||1.2||384||Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Donut (portion size 53g – 200 calories)|
|Raisins||299||5||3||4.1||1||414||2 Mr Kipling Bakewell slices (portion size 70g – 292 calories)|
|Brazil Nuts||690||8||14.3||18||2||334||Medium Dominos Pepperoni Passion Thin and Crispy (portion size 2 slices – 324 calories)|
|Pistachios||557||10||20||7.3||2.1||534||Dairy Milk (portion size one bar 45g – 240 calories)|
When building dry fruits and nuts into your diet, you still need to be aware of how they are processed – a high level of salt or or a cooking process involving oils or fats could take away from their health value. Always try to eat in their raw format when possible.
Incorporating Dry Fruits and Nuts into your Diet
Depending on the type of regime/diet you are following, you will need to consider how dried fruits and nuts should form part of your daily intake. Here we have taken some of the more popular regimes and highlighted how you should consider intake of fruits/nuts within it.
The Ketogenic Diet
Keto for shot, this diet is typically low carb and high fat. It has been shown in many reports to help improve health while losing weight, potentially with the added benefits of protecting against health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
The aim is to place the body into “ketosis” – a metabolic state where it must burn fat for energy in the absence of blood sugars (glucose) from carbs.
Ketogenic diets typically include filling up on fats such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.
How to incorporate Nuts/Dried Fruit into a Keto Diet
Most nuts are high in fats and low in carbs, which makes them idea for a keto diet. The optimim nuts will have less then 5g of net carbs per 1oz serving. Pecans, brazils and walnuts are all great options.
Be careful of dried fruits, most of them still have high sugar levels, despite their other health benefits. The choice of dried fruit is important; raspberries, blackberries and citrus are probably some of your best options.
Clean eating fundamentally promotes the consumption of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, proteins, wholegrains and health fats, while avoiding processed foods.
How to incorporate Nuts/Dried Fruit into a Clean Eating
This makes both nuts and dried fruits excellent options on this diet. Most varieties will be suitable, just make sure you’re aware of ensuring a balanced diet and not relying on a narrow selection of food groups.
Popular for decades, low-fat diets typically include restricting fat intake to around 30% of daily calories. They typically rely on carb intake, with limited protein. They are often seen as a more short-term measure as ongoing restriction of fats and proteins has been linked to interrupt hormone production, nutrient absorption and cell health.
How to incorporate Nuts/Dried Fruit into a Keto Diet
Dried fruit should be selected for the lowest calorie intake, and can provide a healthier alternative for a sweet hit rather than something more calorific. Apricots, dates, goji berries and raisins are all probably good options for this.
Nuts can still be incorporated as a healthy snack. They are not only full of great nutrition, they also provide a source of low saturated fat rather than animal protein sources, and therefore help to lower bad cholesterol. Pistachios, almonds and cashews are all most likely candidates – though you would need to ensure you had accounted for them within your daily fat intake allowance.
So, for most diets and individuals, dry fruits and nuts are an excellent choice to incorporate into daily intake. With so many positive nutritional elements such as anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, they are a great option not only for use within cooking, but also as a snack throughout the day. We carry a full range at Hides Fine Foods that you can order online today.
The information in this article is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. This should not be used for health or diet recommendations. Third party sources have been provided where used. Some estimates have been used in this article and should be checked by the reader prior to consideration. Hides Fine Foods takes no responsibility for the subsequent use or application of the information provided in this article.