What Are The Best Fresh, Dried and Processed Fruit Snacks?
There is a common misconception that all fruit is good for you. I cannot tell you how many times my wife and kids came back from a shopping trip with piles of fresh fruit. They were proud of the fact that they had made such healthy choices instead of buying a bunch of snack foods like chips or cookies. I finally pointed out that while it might seem that their choices were good ones, they might have considered doing some research before buying the kind of fruits they purchased.
Buying fresh fruit is all about making the most healthy of choices. Apples are a good pick. However, there is a catch to eating apples. They are high in natural sugar content which is not really good, but as long as you eat the peel along with the rest of it you get the benefit of ursolic acid. That helps our bodies to build a type of muscle mass that burns fat and helps to prevent obesity. An apple a day also keeps the doctor away by providing fiber, antioxidants, vitamin c and other beneficial things that our bodies need.
Green grapes are a family favorite for us, but they have a high sugar content and may not be the best choice for snacks. Bananas also have lots of sugar in them, but they contain tons of potassium which is essential for good heart health and muscle function. Placing bananas on your shopping list is a good idea, just do not eat too many on a daily basis. Apricots are awesome for Vitamin A and highly recommended as a good fruit snack by most nutritionists. Blackberries, blueberries and cherries all have excellent health benefits, but beware of baking them into pies. The baking process eliminates a lot of the health benefits and who needs all that sugar and fat.
I never liked grapefruit, but some people go crazy over it and there was that grapefruit diet craze a few decades back. This is a fruit that has an oddly pleasing and extremely tart taste that is attractive for some, but no fat at all to speak of and a very low sugar content. Not only is grapefruit an excellent source of vitamin c, but it tends to make you feel full which is why so many people eat it as a diet aid. It's always been a popular breakfast staple.
Oranges are the king of fruit in some ways. They provide lots of vitamin c, folic acid and calcium. However, if you are looking for the same benefits from orange juice, you might be a bit disappointed. Experts now say that orange and many other fruit juices may be as bad a choice as soda for beverages. Unlike the actual fruit, the juice is the result of juicing a number of oranges which raises the sugar content exponentially and not in a good way. The extra calcium and folic acid is not worth the extra sugar, so beware getting addicted to fruit juices of any kind.
Purple grapes, kiwi, strawberries, mango, raspberries, papaya and prunes are good choices as fruit snacks. All have no fat content and individually contain many things that our bodies need like vitamin c, fiber and heart-healthy compounds. Sugar levels are a bit high in some of these choices like mango, purple grapes and prunes, but the benefits outweigh the sugar content in all.
Dried fruits have always been a problem for people who buy them thinking they are getting a healthy snack and all the benefits of fresh fruit. I used to buy lots of banana chips because I love the taste. I was horrified when I found out that they were deep fried with extra sugar added! If you do buy banana chips, purchase the ones that are offered without added sugar.
Pineapples are another on my greatest hits list of favorite dried fruit. Imagine my shock after I discovered that most were coated in refined sugar to give them that sweet taste. Cranberries are also processed with lots of sugar to make them taste better. Watermelon is the worst offender. Fresh or dried, it has few health benefits and tons of sugar.
If you purchase dried fruit be aware that most of your choices will not provide you with the same health benefits as eating the same fruit fresh. That is especially true if you purchase items which have been processed using extra sugar or additives for preservation or other reasons. There are exceptions. The best dried fruits to buy are apples, apricots, mango, cherries, figs, papaya, blueberries, raisins, plums and tomatoes.
Fruit candy is not the worst snack anyone can choose, but it is also not the best and no where near as healthy as fresh or most dried fruit. Fruit candy is made from fruit juice, sugar and various additives. Because the candy contains fruit juice, you are starting off with something that is not as healthy as fresh or dried fruit and has a lot more sugar in it. Even more sugar is added to give candy its taste and that is more bad news. The cooking process eliminates most of the health benefits of the fruit juice used to make it, so fruit candy is something you should probably avoid.
Fruit, whether it is fresh or dried, can be your best friend or worst enemy. It's all about understanding how your body reacts to the sugar content and making choices that include the least amount of additives or processing. If you have a natural tendency towards obesity, any snacks are probably a bad idea. If you chose fresh fruit as a snack, do not over indulge. Pick three pieces of fruit you enjoy the most each day and have one of each. If dried fruit is your thing, limit yourself to one small package a day and eat it only when you are really hungry.