Dried Fruit Can Help Meet Daily Fruit Requirements

Getting More Fruit in Your Diet is Easy With Dried Fruit

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


Dried fruit is a nutritious, delicious and affordable way to meet the dietary guideline to consume 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit each day. It can also help expand the variety in the diet when fresh fruit is not available. And it may even provide more nutritional benefits than the fresh fruit in your market if that has traveled from other continents to provide varieties that are not in season anywhere close to your home.

To explain why dried fruit may be a good option to meeting your daily fruit requirement this winter here’s aQuick Q/A on Dried Fruit:

What happens when fruit is dried?

Drying, or dehydrating, involves removing 82%-97% of the water, depending on the type of fruit.

How is it done?

Dehydrating can be done naturally by the sun or by using dehydrators. It takes about 3 days in 100° F temperatures to dry fruit in the sun or 10-20 hours at 120-140° F in an electric dehydrator.

Is anything added to dried fruit?

Sulfur dioxide may be added to block browning reactions that darken the color of the fruit. Check the food label if you are allergic to this safe preservative.

Sugar is added to some fruits before or after drying to sweeten them, such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes and strawberries. Again, check the label.

Is dried fruit higher in calories?

Calories are not affected by drying a piece of fruit, but the calories are higher in an equal volume of dried fruit compared to fresh. A grape has 4 calories whether eaten fresh or as a raisin, however about 32 seedless grapes fit into a cup while 120 raisins can fit into that same cup.

Is dried fruit as nutritious as fresh?

  • Some heat-sensitive vitamins, such as Vitamin C, can be affected by the high temperatures used to dry fruit. Those losses are no more significant than what can occur when fresh fruit is harvested early to be transported long distances and stored for extended periods of time before consumption.
  • Dried fruits are an important source of antioxidants and other naturally occurring phytonutrients, such as flavanols and anthocyanins, which have many health benefits.
  • Fiber content of fruit is not affected by dehydrating.
  • Like fresh fruit, dried fruit contains no cholesterol and practically no fat and has very low sodiumcontent.

Why is dried fruit so sweet?

  • The sweeter taste of dried fruit is due to the concentration of the natural sugars in it once the moisture has been removed.
  • Fruit that is going to be dried is allowed to fully ripen before it’s harvested, which enhances the naturalsweetness.

Can people with diabetes eat dried fruit?

Any form of fruit can be used by people with diabetes, whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or as juice. It’s the serving size and number of servings in your meal plan that matters.

What advantages are there to including dried fruits in my diet?

  • Dried fruits have a long shelf life since drying inhibits bacterial growth.
  • Long shelf life makes dried fruit price-stable and available year round.
  • It’s easy to use dried fruit since they don’t require peeling, seeding or other preparation.
  • Dried fruit is convenient to take with you when traveling away from home.
Sitting less can reduce the risk for many diseases and dying prematurely.

Sitting Too Much Raises the Risk for Dying Sooner

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.


If you sit more than you sleep, you may have Sitting Disease. That’s the term used to describe a sedentary lifestyle. And even if you exercise for an hour a day – which very few people do -you’re not off the hook. Sedentary is defined as a lack of whole body muscle movement for extended periods of time. So if you spend most of your day in a chair or a bed after that daily workout, you’re sedentary!

Sitting, or long periods of inactivity, have been shown to raise your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The increased risk for disease associated with sitting is not the same thing as the recommendation to exercise more. Sitting for many hours a day is the problem. Exercise or other forms of physical activity are also important to good health, but for different reasons.

Even your life expectancy is impacted by sitting according to a study done by the American Cancer Society in 2010. Researchers looked at the amount of time spent sitting and being active in 123,216 individuals. They found women who sat the most and were the least physically active had a 94% higher likelihood of dying compared to women who sat less and moved more. For men the increased likelihood of dying was 48% higher.

The extended hours spent sitting have accumulated as jobs moved from field to office and walking was replaced by riding. Modern conveniences in our homes eliminate the need to chop wood, haul water and scrub clothes, so we have more time to sit and watch television. The very presence of so many “screens” in our lives – whether TV, computer or handheld – and the endless programs, movies, games and connections we can see on them keep us sitting even longer.

The problem is our bodies weren’t designed for all this inactivity. Throughout human history survival required that we remain active and alert. The only time our ancestors weren’t in motion was when they were sleeping.

The obesity epidemic has been blamed on too many calories and not enough exercise, but sitting is another contributor to the problem. Once you sit down the rate at which you burn calories drops to about 1 calorie per minute, regardless of how hard you are thinking. Standing increases the rate at which we burn calories by 10% while walking increases it by 150%!

Sitting has been described by some as the new smoking it’s so damaging to our health. It‘s time to stand up and fight back against the Sitting Disease!

To put this information to use, all you need to do is stand up right now while reading the rest of this blog. Then build regular time-outs for standing into your day by doing things standing that you once did sitting. You can stand:

  • Every time the phone rings and remain standing for all calls
  • During all commercials when watching TV
  • In line inside the bank instead of sitting in the car in the drive-through
  • When reading at your desk for 10 minutes out of every hour
  • On subways, in waiting rooms, at the boarding gate in the airport
  • To change the channel on the TV or simply “lose” the remote

Check Just Stand! for more tips and information

See related post on Exercise Can be Fun!

It is never too late to adopt a healthy diet in retirement

A Healthy Diet in Retirement, Does it Matter?


Hypertension, heart disease and diabetes – three preventable diseases that are the result of modern lifestyles. No matter which one you are diagnosed with, medications are immediately prescribed and dietary modifications are recommended. Unfortunately, few people make the needed changes in their diets while it might still do them some good. Instead, they take the pills and hope for the best.

Then by the time they’re ready to retire, there is little that a change in diet can do to reverse the damage from eating too much saturated fat, sodium and sugar. The most they can hope for is the ability to juggle all the overlapping conditions and restrictions.

So what are the dietary goals for those in retirement?

Aging results in changes in normal digestion and absorption, which impact your nutrient requirements, along with the effects of multiple medications and long-standing diseases. That is why most nutrition research does not typically include subjects older than 55 – there aren’t enough “healthy” people in that age group to study.

Consequently, there is no simple diet plan for the over 60 crowd. But there are three important areas to focus on until you can get a thorough nutritional assessment and individualized dietary plan from a registered dietitian.

Nutrient Density

While there is no one diet that fits all, we do know that a more nutrient dense one is important. That means your diet should be made up foods that provide more nutrients in fewer calories because calorie needs go down with age while nutrient requirements increase. Nutrient dense foods include:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice
  • Lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans
  • Low fat and fat free milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Whole grains and cereals and the products made from them, like whole wheat bread and pasta

Expand Variety

Meals can easily become repetitious and monotonous, and that’s not a good. Variety is important both within each food group and throughout the year to be sure all of the nutrients you need are available from the foods in which they are naturally found.

It can be as simple as adding something new to your menu each week. Try a different type of apple or a frozen vegetable medley containing edamame (they’re soybeans!). Have cornmeal polenta as a side dish or black beans in your salad.

Ease Up on Extras

There are many things people enjoy eating and drinking that add little nutritional value to their diets, but do add calories. These extras include cake, cookies and candy and the butter, cream cheese and other spreads added to foods. While it is not necessary to give them up entirely, it is important to eat them less often and in smaller portions or to use lower calorie substitutes for them when available.

For example, a slice of peach pie can be replaced with a dish of sliced peaches (fresh, frozen or canned in unsweetened juice) topped with 2 crushed ginger snaps as a way how to have your pie and eat it, too!

Are you ready to change your eating habits for the better?

Metabolic Syndrome Causes Greater Disease Risk Than Obesity Alone

Metabolic Syndrome is Worse than Obesity


Metabolic Syndrome is what you have when you are overweight, and most of your excess weight is around your middle. Along with that apple shape you also have to have any two of these other conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and too little HDL, the good cholesterol.

The American Heart Association estimates that nearly 35% of American adults meet these criteria. This means only about half as many people have Metabolic Syndrome as those who are just overweight. But Metabolic Syndrome is far worse. It doubles your risk for heart disease and stroke and increases your risk for diabetes by five times.

How to tell if you have Metabolic Syndrome?

The quickest way to tell if you have Metabolic Syndrome is to use a cloth tape measure to take an honest reading of your waist measurement. Place the beginning of the tape on top of one hip bone and bring it around your back, over the other hip bone, on top of your navel, then reconnect it at the hip bone. The tape should make a circle around you that is the same distance from the floor all the way around. Do this without pulling too tight or holding your breath. Now compare your reading to the values below to see if you are at risk.

Waist circumference: Women greater than 35 inches, Men greater than 40 inches

Medications: You use prescription drugs to lower cholesterol and to lower blood pressure

If your waist circumference is too large but you aren’t on two prescriptions, here are the numbers you need to have to avoid starting on medications and qualifying for Metabolic Syndrome.

  • Triglycerides: less than 150mg
  • HDL Cholesterol: over 50mg for women, 40mg for men
  • Blood Pressure: less than 130/85
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: less than 100mg

How do you treat Metabolic Syndrome?

There is no single treatment regimen for Metabolic Syndrome. Each risk factor – your weight, waist circumference, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and blood pressure – must each be managed in the best way possible to bring them back into a normal range.

The one common denominator to treating all of the risk factors, other than to quit smoking, is a healthier diet and more physical activity. Even if only a small amount of your excess weight is lost, a better diet and more exercise will improve your other numbers, and that’s important.

A study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that increasing the fiber content of the diet did more to lower the risk for Metabolic Syndrome than reducing the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. Of course, controlling fat intake is important, but if you want to focus on foods you can add to your diet in place of some other foods you’re now eating, go for more high fiber whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. They belong in your daily diet for lots of other reasons that are good for your health, anyway, so why not get started?

Is your muffin top putting you at risk for Metabolic Syndrome?