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gojiberries

Yes, I admit it. I bought some dried goji berries. I’m a nutritionist, I have to know what they taste like, don’t I? Despite all the health claims, I think I’ll pass from now on. In fact, I’m going to pass on the whole noni, goji, mangosteen thing. And rainforest acai as well. While I’m all for healthy food, this frenzied “miracle cure” marketing blitz for exotic fruit is a bit over-the-top. Everyone is selling the stuff in one form or another — it’s becoming the Amway of the produce world. Plus, it’s very expensive!

I’m also working on eating local and pilfering the rainforest or ransacking the Himalayas isn’t exactly within my 100 mile radius. Although I stray from my range (I even stray from my state), I want to at least try to stick to food grown in the USA. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always do it (coffee from East Aftrica?). But it is on my radar and as soon as my own personal organic farmers start harvesting their crops, I’ll be eating very local once again. Other than my coffee, coconut milk, avocados, cinnamon, Thai chiles — hey, I’m trying.

How do I do this? I’m already off task.

This post is for Miles, who asked me about dried vs fresh fruit. Is one better than the other? Good question. Miles also puts up with much silliness from the women commenters on his blog. I feel like we owe him one, so here goes.

I make a habit of eating both, but when buying dried fruit, I choose organic sources with no added sugar. If it is certified organic, it cannot contain sulfur or other chemical preservatives which are often used to increase shelf life. Preservatives also keep the fruit from darkening as it ages, so organic choices may not look as “pretty” as the chemically laced ones, but I’m okay with that.

Depending on what you read, dried fruit can either be more nutritious or less nutritious than fresh fruit. What does that mean? It depends on the fruit and the drying method, but in general, what you lose is moisture and not so much nutritional content. Calories and sugar are far more concentrated, so you have to be careful not to over-eat the dried stuff.

Using my professional quality food scale, I determined that 26 rather large raisins equaled 1 ounce. Those 26 raisins fit in the palm of my hand and were about 85 calories worth. It’s very easy to scarf down a handful of raisins.

Raisins are dried grapes.

Eight grapes equals 1 ounce, which is about 25 calories — one cup is about 85-95 calories. So, do I want 1 ounce of raisins for 85 calories or 1 cup of grapes? The calories and the sugar are concentrated in dried fruit. It’s the same amount of each per unit, but it is much easier to eat 6 dried apricots or a handful of raisins than it is to eat the fresh versions. You don’t realize how much you’re eating. It’s unlikely that you’d eat 6 fresh apricots in one sitting, probably more like one or two. But this illustrates how you can over-do the calories and sugar with too much dried fruit.

Now, on to the nutritional piece. I’ve heard it both ways. Dried fruit has more iron. Fresh fruit has more vitamin C. Dried fruit more antioxidants (but wait, vitamin C is an antioxidant). Raisins have more calcium and protein than grapes. How can that be? Wait, there’s protein in grapes?

It’s all confusing.

The bottom line (in my mind — for whatever that’s worth) is that both are nutritious and should be part of a healthy eating plan. I do prefer fresh fruit for the most part, but dried is perfect for certain uses. I dried lots of fruit and enjoyed the benefits while hiking the Colorado Trail last summer. There’s no way I would have lugged around a bag of fresh apples with me, but I ate dried organic apples daily while on the trail (check the link for apple nutrition and dehydrating tips). There are some nutrient losses with processing, but low-heat dehydrating doesn’t alter the nutritional content all that much. It simply pulls a good part of the moisture out, making the finished product more stable. Some moisture remains, that’s why dried fruit is chewy.

I often use the USDA National Nutrient Database for research. Check here to see the nutritional value of 100 grams of raisins and here to compare the nutritional value of 100 grams of grapes. If you want to read a scholarly article on fresh verses dried fruit, check here. It’s interesting reading — if you’re a total dork like me. Otherwise, skip it and trust me that both are healthy (especially organic). Just keep in mind there’s a calorie and sugar difference in a handful of raisins and a handful of grapes.

Go forth and eat fruit (fresh or dried)!
Melissa

21 Responses to “dried fruit vs fresh fruit”

  1. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    I’m on a total fruit kick thanks to your ‘sports energy’ post, as I mentioned to you. I’m using fruit as a kind of KERS system, to use motor racing parlance. (I know that GFFG-ers are all big Formula 1 fans. :) ) The worst thing about dried fruits is that they are so damn moreish. Like you said, I can happily munch my way through a whole bag of raisins or dried bananas, let alone 26!

    You know, I always let out a little yip of glee whenever you ‘diss’ the superfoods crowd. I don’t want to sound like a stuck record but fly-by-night, quick-buck nutritionists get under my skin to such an extent that I actually get reasonably irked! I want genuine advice from a girl with a brain the size of a planet and who can do handstands. :)

    In other news, I had my hair cut today and now I look like a Lego man. It quite suits me, actually.

    GDave

  2. Miles says:

    Melissa,
    Thank you!I was led to believe that goji berries were the new superfood!
    I think you are quite right, a balance of both. Dried fruits have become an invaluable part of my cooking and on a personal level a favourite snack.
    Thanks again, very interesting.

    Miles

  3. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I’ve acquired a taste for dried cranberries which I’m sure have sugar added to some extent. Feeling suitably guilty after having scoffed more than perhaps I should, I’m off to work out on my lateral trainer… about six months solid ‘treading’ should do it :) At least I haven’t gone back to my old ways of eating lots of milk chocolate. The bag of mixed roasted nuts I bought today has an enormous amount of calories in… another food to treat with caution.

    Have you tried that spirulina face pack yet? I can tell you it was interesting and the bathroom sink needed a thorough good cleaning afterwards but that aside I looked like a Halloween poster :)

    I’m wondering whether GDave has applied too much coconut oil to achieve a Lego man look…. someone ought to warn him that if the temperature gets above a certain level, it’s melt-down :)

    Cid

  4. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    Okay, first off, I have no idea what a KER system is or what moreish means. I need a Brit dictionary.

    Funny, as I was wondering how to respond to your gleeful comment about my “dissing” of the super foods crowd, I glanced to the left of this post and noticed (to my dismay), I have a whole category dedicated to super foods! I AM that person I’m dissing. Yikes!

    I tried in vain to remove it, but I’ve been instructed by my tech guy to stick to the center column of my blog and not to venture across those dotted lines into code territory.

    Ahhh, food irony. I love it.

    Lego man? I’m having trouble visualizing the look. Did you run this by Cid first? You know she’s taken on a side interest in natural hair care.

  5. Melissa says:

    Miles,

    Goji berries are definitely the new “it” food, although I really don’t know much about them other than what I’ve read in the marketing claims. With all the multi level marketing attached to the berries now, I’m skeptical of the claims. While these little items may be full of beneficial nutrients, they can’t be the magic bullet many people seem to think they are.

    I also use dried fruit in my cooking and baking. One of my favorite combinations is cabbage and raisins, whether in a salad or sauteed together.

  6. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    KERS is ‘Kenetic energy recovery system’ which basically means you push a button and get that little extra power that you need. Kinda like your description of standing at the foot of a daunting mountain needing a boost.

    Hey, you are NOT one of those people! How many times on your blog have you written, “there are no quick fixes.” The opposite message is what ‘those people’ use to sell their trashy magazines and to get 2 minutes of airtime on network TV.

    Oh and the coconut scalp massage oil is working well! I’m glad to assist in your trials. I feel like a rat in a Max Factor laboratory! :)

    GDave

  7. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    As I wrote this post today, I had my hair loaded with coconut oil and piled on top of my head. Quite attractive, I might add. Not so much Halloween poster material — more like an oil slick warning.

    What did you think of the spirulina mask? I’ve not tried it yet. Your skin isn’t tinted now, is it? Maybe we should test this stuff on someone other than ourselves. Any volunteers? Other than GDave — I don’t think he’s taking our venture into natural beauty products seriously.

  8. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I’m so glad you suggested the coconut oil… it’s an excellent product. As for the face pack… well it’s hard to say but next time I’m going to mix it with aloe gel and see how that works.

    GDave is just the sort of customer we should be targeting… male grooming is big in the UK at the moment. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get everything muddled up and slap on the soup instead :)

    Cid

  9. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I have a bizarre soup post in the making. I think this one can be used for a multitude of purposes — sip it or slather it on your skin (or hair).

    :-)

  10. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    KERS? Sounds like something we could all use once in awhile!

  11. Elsie Nean says:

    Melissa,
    I have tried the Goji berries and also soaked them overnight. The flavour is doing nothing for me and I shall not bother any more.
    Like Cid, I am very fond of Cranberries though but just put some into my muesli.
    You mention Avocado, Melissa. I have been disappointed and stopped buying them of late as they were often brownish inside, despite looking fine on the outside.
    I don’t really know the answer to that.
    Good post, Melissa, thank you.
    Elsie :)

  12. Kay says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I am a big fan of the acai juice, even though the one I drink, Mona Vie, is sold like Amway. Drinking the juice actually helped me figure out that I have celiac and other food allergies. My body is able to absorb the nutrients in juice form that it was not able to absorb from foods. It improved my symptoms enough for me to figure out what foods were causing reactions. AND, my hair grew back when I started drinking it. When I stop drinking it daily, I get random bald spots again. So I’m sticking with it!

    An interesting tidbit about acai berries: They grow on the same palm trees that are harvested for hearts of palm. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of acres of rainforest have been saved because companies are now paying local residents to harvest the berries instead of cutting down the whole tree. I feel like I’m saving the rainforest every day when I drink my juice.

    In garden news, I turned out the lights in the basement greenhouse yesterday! I moved all my little plants outside into the real sunshine. Our low temps are now staying up to about 50 degrees, so my tomatoes and eggplant will do fine.

    Lettuce, radishes and peas were planted from seed a month ago. They are all having a growth spurt since the warm weather is here.

    I’m working on my potato patch. I’m about half done. Good Friday is the day to plant potatoes, but the weather didn’t cooperate. I’ve selected Yukon Golds, fingerlings, and Red Pontiacs for this year’s crop. I chose a sloping site for the potato patch because it offers good drainage.

    I also made a potato patch in a basket for my friend who gave me lots of lumber scraps for the chicken coop. If you’re short on space, you can use a bushel basket with 6″ to 8″ of rich soil and sand in the bottom. Bury your potato starts in the dirt, then top with straw to support the plants as they grow.

    Wish I had time to post!

  13. Melissa says:

    Anne (Elsie),

    I like cranberries too, they add some zing to spinach salads.

    As for the avocados, yes, it’s frustrating to cut one open and find it’s spoiled. Aside from being unattractive, those brown spots aren’t good for you. I buy my avocados before they are ripe (obviously green), then refrigerate them for several days. Unless you need a ripe one immediately, then choose a softer version. But storing them in the refrigerator helps keep them fresh much longer. Plus they ripen more evenly. One of my favorite quick and healthy snacks is avocado and grapefruit slices. Yum! And avocados are very healthy, the fat is GOOD fat.

    :-)

  14. Melissa says:

    Kay,

    Great comments and you bring up such a good point. Although I’m not fond of those MLM programs, if you find something that works for you, then go for it!

    But what you mention about drinking your nutrients is right-on. It’s interesting — those hard-packed vitamins probably never get properly broken down and absorbed. I much prefer chewable vitamins or what you’ve mentioned with your liquid form. It’s already “digested” so all your body needs to do is absorb and assimilate the nutrients. That is PARAMOUNT for people with digestive disorders because there are so many booby traps along the way (lack of adequate enzymatic activity, compromised villi, etc.). Gosh, and I don’t blame you about not wanting to skip your juice drink — alopecia (clumps of hair falling out) is a DRAG and not all that uncommon with celiac disease. Yes, you need your nutrients, whatever it takes to get them absorbed!

    AND — I’m always thrilled to hear about how people are becoming more aware and taking action toward sustainability of food sources. GREAT story, Kay! And thanks for contributing that.

    I am so impressed with all your gardening and “farming” practices. You’re amazing and I love hearing about your progress. I’m looking forward to photos all along the way.

    :-)

    While minimal, I’ve got my giant composter filling up rapidly and plan to start some small projects soon.

    Thanks for the update and happy spring!

  15. Kelly says:

    I guess I’m a weirdo, cuz I LOVE goji berries. I know, they smell like Playdoh, but there is something I like about them, it is a salty/sweet thing with texture. I don’t think I’d put them in muffins or anything, just a healthy snack on their own. I’m a snacker. Expensive, so I only treat myself to a bag once and awhile, but figure it is better than potato chips so worth the money.

  16. Melissa says:

    Kelly,

    No, you’re not a weirdo (a touch quirky, maybe) and I love it that everyone is expressing their own likes and dislikes with this post. I laughed out loud with your Playdoh comment.

    You do know not to eat your Playdoh, right?! It may contain gluten.

    :-)

    Yes, the goji berries are much better than potato chips!

  17. I could relate to this post, Melissa. I’ve faced the hard sell by some of the sales people for the general antioxidant drinks and mangosteen drinks. I’m always told by these folks that they feel so much better when they are drinking them. I don’t deny they do, but I always ask them if they’ve identified the source of their symptoms. Most get a little bit befuddled when I ask that, like why would they want to do that. We are definitely a “treat the symptoms, not find the cause” society. As I reported on Pete and Kelli’s blog, one salesperson was trying to convince me to try her product for 3 months when I was manning our support group table at the Women’s Forum. (Here I was trying to educate people about gluten and she “grabbed” me in the middle of the aisle.) I said okay, I’ll consider doing that if you consider getting tested for gluten issues. She said sure and then quickly disappeared. We had another person who showed up as a prospective member to our support group in its early days and ended up giving up his spiel. None of these folks I’ve encountered can ever answer the question if their products are gluten free. I am sure that most are, but they should be able to answer that question.

    I have taken liquid vitamins before and those have been very helpful. I take high quality supplements now (pill or capsule) … but I even had issues with one of those dissolving and stopped it.

    Bravo to Kay for using her acai juice to help her with malabsorption issues. I really don’t believe we ever totally get rid of those issues, so finding what works makes sense. I did not know that harvesting the berries is saving the rainforest … I love that! :-)

    And, I haven’t tired gojiberries, but I like saying the word! LOL But, I don’t know now that I know they smell like Play-doh. ;-) BTW, even the homemade play-doh has a funky smell. Who knew?

    Shirley

  18. Kay says:

    Good for you for starting garden projects! You can plant peas now, in a sunny spot with a short trellis. I decided to go with snow peas this year. And I’m trying to come up with a pretty design for running strings for my pole beans up to the gutters on the front of my house. Some vegetables can just mix right in with the flowers.

    Building the chicken coop and digging my drainage ditch are slowing down my gardening progress. Thankfully, the ditch is nearly done.

    I’ve spent so much time outside that I failed to notice I was out of bread. So I’m baking at 11:30 on a Friday night. I really want a slice of toast for breakfast!

  19. Kay says:

    BTW, on your suggestion I got a half dozen duck eggs from the farmers market. I’m test-driving my sorghum millet bread with one tonight.

  20. Hi Melissa,

    I was going to email you, but I couldn’t find your address. You mentioned on my blog that you have orange scented candles. I was wondering what type they are. Cause if they smell like orange blossoms, then I’d love to get one. Thanks!

  21. Melissa says:

    Shirley & Kay,

    Thanks, girls. You always add such good insights into whatever it is I’m posting about, whether it’s life, food or gardening! I should have responded to these wonderful comments of yours days ago! Geez, sometimes life just gets in the way of my blogging.

    :-)

    How did the duck egg baking turn out, Kay?

    Susan,

    Peeled Naval Orange candles from Anthropologie — they are soooo delightful (although a bit pricey).

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