When I was very young, raisins seemed especially strange to me. Tasty, but strange. Why so sticky? And doesn’t rumor have it that they used to be plump, juicy grapes? ….Years later, my attitude toward raisins has changed. Mainly, what are the health benefits of raisins and are raisins even good for you? It turns out that there are plenty of scientific studies proving the health benefits of raisins, and these peculiar little shriveled up grapes are in fact good for you.
The Health Benefits of Raisins: Overview
- Raisin Basics & FAQs
What is a serving of raisins?
What are the health benefits of golden raisins?
- 5 Ways Raisins Will Make You Healthier
- Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating Recipes with Raisins
In the following post, I’ll cover the benefits of eating raisins as well as their basic nutritional composition. You’ll also find some great vegan recipes that will help you incorporate raisins into your diet in a more interesting way.
Raisin Basics: FAQs
What’s the definition of a raisin?
Put simply, the definition of a raisin is a dried out grape. But the process of a transforming a grape into a raisin is more complicated than I originally guessed. This is because the wax in a grape’s skin prevents the water droplets from passing through and evaporating.
According to Grape Drying: A Review, there are three main parts in the process of turning grapes into raisins:
- Post-drying processes
In other words, it’s a lot more work than leaving some grapes out in the sun to dry. You can even watch the entire process via YouTube, if you want to!
What is a serving of raisins?
According to California Raisins, the official serving size of raisins is a quarter cup. (In other words, that’s about 1.4 ounces.) One serving contains 120 calories.
What are the health benefits of golden raisins?
In the next section, you’ll see the health benefits of “regular” raisins. And the truth is, they’re about the same as golden raisins. The only difference is that golden raisins dry quickly in giant dehydrators, whereas dark raisins dry naturally in the sun. During this dehydration process, golden raisins receive a sulphur dioxide treatment. This is a type of preservative that may exacerbate asthma in rare cases.
The only advantage of golden raisins is that they may contain more flavonoids. Flavonoids help prevent neurodegenerative diseases, free radical damage, and inflammation.
Golden raisins are not significantly healthier than regular raisins.
What else is in raisins?
But sugar isn’t all raisins have to offer. A quarter cup of raisins has 1.36 grams of protein. In other words, that’s 5.45 grams per cup. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants.
As we discuss the health benefits of raisins below, we’ll delve into more of what makes them such a nutritional masterpiece. However, here’s an at-a-glance look at the vitamins and minerals found within these tasty bits of sweetness:
Raisins provide you with Vitamin B-6, folate, Vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.
In addition to being a good source of multiple vitamins, raisins also provide your body and mind with many vital minerals. These include zinc, sodium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
The 5 Main Health Benefits of Raisins
And Their Nutritional Profile
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that raisins, while a prime example of natural sugars, contain quite a bit of – well – sugar! In fact, 1 half cup has about 47 grams of sugar. While natural sugars are better than refined sugar, they’re still something you should limit. This is why the recommended serving size is only 1/4 of a cup.
1. Raisins Are a Good Source of Dietary Fiber
- Fiber keeps you feeling full longer than other foods. This may help prevent obesity or aid in weight loss. In fact, research suggests that
- Since fiber rich foods help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, they also prevent heart disease.
- Another benefit of fiber is that it aids the digestive process and may help prevent constipation and bloating.
According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the fiber obtained from eating two servings of raisins daily may improve the way your colon functions. It might even decrease your risk of developing colon cancer!
2. These Mighty Little Dried Fruits Contain Bone-Strengthening Calcium
Raisins are a good source of calcium, boron, and potassium. All three of these nutrients are essential for strong teeth and bones. Calcium also plays a key role in preventing and treating osteoporosis.
Some experts believe that pairing calcium with Vitamin D may diminish your risk for diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Vitamin D also helps your body to absorb calcium more wholly.
In order to get the most out of the calcium and boron in raisins, try pairing them with foods rich in Vitamin D. If you follow a vegan diet, this might mean taking a Vitamin D supplement.
3. Raisins are a Great Vegan Source of Iron
Another one of the valuable health benefits of raisins is that they are a good source of iron. In fact, one serving size provides about 7% of the daily recommended intake (DRI) for females and 17% of the DRI for males.
Your body thrives on iron to synthesize red blood cells and maintain a robust immune system. This helps prevent illness and also helps you feel more energized. It is also essential for a healthy pregnancy.
The copper in raisins plays a “supporting role” by assisting in the formation of new red blood cells.
4. These Tiny Fruits Help Fight Dental Cavities
People have often thought that the stickiness of raisins contributes to dental cavities. But multiple articles published in scientific journals say quite the opposite: raisins are, in fact, quite good for your chompers!
In an article published in the Journal of Food Science, researchers debunk the notion that raisins are sticky and therefore stay on the teeth longer.
They also expose the truth that, while low levels of oral pH are the breeding grounds for cavities, eating raisins does not lower your oral pH so much that the enamel on your teeth starts to dissolve.
In fact, the calcium in raisins does just the opposite: it helps strengthen your teeth and nail enamel. Finally, the antioxidants in raisins actually inhibit the bacteria that is chiefly responsible for cavities, Streptococcus mutans.
Another study provides additional health benefits of raisins for your teeth:
- Remember that trace element, boron, that I mentioned earlier? Well, it does more than help your body absorb calcium. It also keeps excess growth of harmful germs from growing in your mouth.
- Secondly, oleanolic acid, one of the many phytochemicals within raisins, naturally shields your teeth from cavity and other forms of decay. This curtails the growth of both Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis, two strains of bacteria that can cause cavities when left unchecked.
5. The Antioxidants in Raisins Fight Cancer, Premature Aging, Heart Disease, and Stroke
Like dates, raisins are full of antioxidants that help fight free radical damage by preventing oxidative stress. Here’s a quick crash course in oxidative stress and free radicals:
Oxidative stress occurs when there are uneven levels of antioxidants and free radicals in your body. Free radicals are molecules with an uneven number of electrons. And, while some free radicals are normal, excessive amounts can lead to large-scale cellular damage, causing premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Antioxidants help prevent damage from free radicals.The 8 Life-Saving Benefits of Coconut
Catechins and polyphenols are the specific types of antioxidants in dates that counteract free radical damage. Since they shield your DNA’s natural structure, the antioxidants in raisins may:
- Lower your risk for diabetes
- Reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke
- Prevent premature aging, including visible signs of aging on your skin
- Help protect your body from certain cancers
How to Eat More Raisins
Now that you know why it’s a good idea to eat raisins, it’s time to figure out a way to work them into your diet! True, one obvious way is to eat a serving of raisins as a quick snack between meals.
But Mother Earth is ripe with rich flavors and delicious combinations. So why not try one of the following, more creative, ways to work raisins into your diet?
- As part of a homemade trail mix. For example, one simple raw vegan recipe is a mixture of healthy dark chocolate*, nonpareil almonds, chopped walnuts*, pistachios, dried cranberries, and shredded coconut.
- In Mu Mu Muesli breakfast cereal, the best organic cereal on the planet. This mix is full of other organic ingredients with both similar and complimentary health-boosting benefits.
- Why not make your own pancake topping? For example, check out this Maple Raisin Topping recipe.
- In a breakfast cookie. You can find healthy breakfast cookie recipes in 8 Muesli Cookie Recipes for Vegans on the Go, as well as on Pinterest.
- On a platter of nuts and other types of dried fruits. This is fast and easy, and it’s one of those great vegan recipes that works well when you’re in a time crunch.
What are your favorite ways to eat raisins? Do you have any “to-die-for” raisin recipes? I welcome your input in the comments below.
As always, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you feel at least a little more inspired to use organic, whole foods to boost your life!
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*Did you know that walnuts and dark chocolate are both good foods for enhancing focus and memory? Check out What to Eat for a Happier, Healthier Brain for more details!