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Food Policy Makers Asked to Consider
Dried Fruits Equivalent to Fresh Fruits
Summary Statement
Traditional dried fruits should be
included with fresh fruits in dietary
recommendations for fruit and
vegetable intake around the world.
Uygun Aksoy — Department of
Horticulture, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey
Arianna Carughi — Sun-Maid Growers of
California & California Dried Fruit
Coalition, Sacramento, California
James Anderson — Medicine & Clinical
Nutrition, University of Kentucky,
Lexington, Kentucky
Mary Jo Feeney — California Dried Plum
Board, Los Altos, California
Dan Gallaher — Department of Food
Science & Nutrition, College of Food,
Agricultural & Natural Resource Sciences,
University of Minnesota, St. Paul,
Andriana Kaliora — Department of
Science & Dietetics–Nutrition,
Harokopio University, Athens, Greece
Vaios Karathanos — Department of
Science & Dietetics–Nutrition,
Harokopio University, Athens, Greece
Shin-ichi Kayano — Department of Health
& Nutrition, Faculty of Health Science,
Kio University, Nara, Japan
Jim Painter — School of Family &
Consumer Sciences, Eastern Illinois
University, Charleston, Illinois
Ron Prior — Department of Food
Science, University of Arkansas,
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Praveen Vayallil — Department of
Pathology, University of Alabama at
Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
Gary Williamson — Department Food
Science & Nutrition, University of Leeds,
Leeds, United Kingdom
Ted Wilson — Department of Biology,
Winona State University, Winona,
hirteen internationally recognized
researchers from the United States,
Greece, Turkey, Japan, and the United
Kingdom have collaborated on a
combined work which recognizes that
traditional dried fruits such as apricots,
apples, dates, figs, raisins and sultanas,
and prunes should be included side by
side with fresh fruit recommendations by
policy makers around the world.
The paper, entitled Traditional Dried
Fruits: Valuable Tools to Meet Dietary
Recommendations for Fruit Intake
presented as part of the XXX World Nut
and Dried Fruit Congress in Budapest,
Hungary on 21 May 2011. Accessible at
driedfruits, the paper was coordinated
by Dr. Arianna Carughi and outlines the
scientific support for considering dried
fruits alongside their fresh counterparts.
Dried fruits originate from only a
few select areas in the world and
are therefore often overlooked by
health professionals. However, it is
the responsibility of the Dried Fruit
Industry, concentrated in these select
areas, to build upon the assertions of
the researchers, and communicate the
nutritional benefits of dried fruits to the
rest of the world.
Increasing consumption of dried fruits
is an effective way to increase overall
consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Epidemiological evidence links increased
intake of fruits and vegetables with
lower rates of obesity and chronic
diseases. However, despite campaigns
and educational efforts, a significant gap
still remains between the recommended
amount of fruits and vegetables and
the quantities actually consumed by
populations around the world.
Dietary advice concerning the health
benefits of fruits and vegetables has
often overlooked the nutritional value of
dried fruits, even though traditional dried
fruits provide essential nutrients, such
as fiber and potassium, and an array of
health protective bioactive compounds.
Because they are naturally resistant to
spoilage, available year round, easy to
store and transport, readily incorporated
into other foods, and relatively low in
cost, traditional dried fruits serve as a
convenient and cost-effective way to
increase fruit consumption.
Traditional Dried Fruits:
A Definition
Traditional dried fruits are fruits which
have had a large portion of their
original water content removed. No
sugar or fruit juice concentrates are
added, and therefore, they retain most
of the nutritional value of their fresh
counterparts. These dried fruits are very
low in sodium and do not contain fats,
cholesterol, or added sugars.
As a group, traditional dried fruits
are good sources of several essential
nutrients, especially potassium and
dietary fiber. Potassium intake levels are
low among most children and adults,
becoming a substantial health concern
since increasing dietary potassium can
lower blood pressure. Additionally,
comparison: DAILY Recommended vs. actual intakeS
Optimum Minimum
intake of fruits and
TOTAL fruits and
vegetables intake
FRUIT intake
fruit intake
The World Health Organization recommends that individuals consume at least
400 grams total of fruits and vegetables per day, and optimally, 600 grams. Data
from the United States and United Kingdom illustrates the shortfall between health
targets and total intakes of fruits and vegetables.
high fiber diets are recommended to
reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,
obesity, type 2 diabetes and several types
of cancer. A 40g serving of dried fruit
delivers approximately 10 percent of the
recommended daily requirement for
fiber, depending on the fruit, and dried
fruit ranks among the top potassium
sources in diets around the world.
Dried fruits contain a range of
increasingly important bioactive
phenolic compounds as well as specific
vitamins and minerals, unique to each
fruit. Oxygen Radical Absorbance
Capacity, or ORAC values for antioxidant
capacity are higher for dried fruits than
the corresponding values for fresh
because antioxidants are concentrated
during the dehydration process.
Epidemiological evidence consistently
links high intakes of fruits and vegetables
with reduced risk for chronic diseases.
This, together with their nutritional
credentials, points to a strong case for
promoting increased intakes of traditional
dried fruits as a means to achieving World
Health Organization recommendations
for total fruit and vegetable consumption,
which is a minimum intake of 400g per
day or optimally, 600g per day.
Healthy Dietary Patterns
Dried fruits are already
included alongside fresh
fruits in formal dietary
recommendations for
Argentina, Australia,
Canada, France, Germany,
Italy, Sweden, the United
Kingdom, and the United
States. Policy makers in
other countries should
follow the lead of these
countries to include
dried fruits with their
recommended guidelines
for fruit and vegetable
Dried fruits are common
components in several
dietary patterns associated
with a lower risk of major
chronic diseases, including
Dietary Approaches to Stop
Hypertension or DASH, Mediterranean
style dietary patterns, and vegetarian
diets. A common feature of these diets
is an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and
other plant foods, including dried fruits.
Despite dietary recommendations,
statistics show a disparity between fruit
and vegetable recommendations and the
quantities populations actually consume.
For example, a World Health Survey
showed that 78 percent of respondents
ate less than the minimum recommended
five daily servings of fruits and vegetables,
while 75 percent of adult men and
women in the United States failed to
meet the minimum recommended level
of fruit intake per day. Though low fruit
and vegetable intake is only one of the
many risk factors for cardiovascular
disease and cancer, its impact is
significant. The World Health Organization
estimates that globally, roughly 5 percent
of deaths are attributable to low fruit and
vegetable intake.
By promoting increased intake of dried
fruits as part of the big push to increase
consumption of fruits and vegetables,
dried fruits have the potential to
bridge the gap between actual and
recommended intakes of fruits and
vegetables. Given the importance now
placed on dietary intervention to improve
the global health burden, this represents
a significant opportunity for the Dried
Fruit Industry.
what this means for the
dried fruit industry
An opportunity for the Dried Fruit
Industry lies in the fact that globally,
average consumers fail to achieve
the minimum recommended intakes
for fruits and vegetables. Using the
evidence outlined by the paper, the
Dried Fruit Industry can:
1.Demonstrate that dried fruits are
as good as fresh fruits in terms
of both health benefits and
convenience; and secondly
2.Promote increased consumption
of dried fruits. Where fresh fruit
has thus far failed to change habits
for a majority of the population,
dried fruits may be an alternative
to confectionary/cakes/biscuits,
used as school/sports snacks, or
as a low cost option.
Changing Perceptions of
Dried Fruits
Several misconceptions have
perpetuated the idea that dried fruits
may be less healthy than their fresh
counterparts. New research clarifies past
concerns regarding sugar concentration,
oral health and vitamin C in order
to return dried fruits to the positive
perception they deserve.
APPLE = 200g
1 large apple)
12 slices)
GRAPES = 170g
(handful of grapes)
Sugar Concentration: In terms of sugar
concentration, when compared weight
for weight, dried fruits appear to have
higher sugar concentrations than
fresh fruits. This has been a negative
issue for dried fruits ever since health
concerns around sugar started to
influence public health policy and
consequent dietary advice.
One of the common problems
encountered with comparing dried foods
on nutritional grounds is the common
practice of equating on a weight for
weight basis, for example, per 100g. Not
surprisingly, the sugar content of dried
versus fresh fruits on this basis appears
disproportionately high, contributing
to the mixed messages about the sugar
concentration of dried fruits.
When portion size and water content
are taken into account, then natural fruit
sugars and calories become equal for
fresh and dried fruits.
The latest nutritional research compares
fresh and dried fruits based on
typical serving sizes, not equal weight
measurements of fresh fruits compared
to dried fruits. Using the definition for
traditional dried fruits, traditional dried
PEACH = 150g
1 medium peach)
PLUMS = 190g
2 dried peach halves)
PRUNES = 40g
3 small plums)
3 prunes)
3 small apricots)
3 dried apricots)
When comparing fresh fruits with their dried counterparts, the definition of
traditional dried fruits must be considered. Traditional dried fruits are fruits
which have had a majority of their water content removed. Therefore, instead of
comparing equal weights of fresh and dried fruits, equal serving sizes translate to
roughly the same nutritional value in terms of calories, sugar content, and fiber.
fruits are the equivalent of their fresh
counterparts with the water removed.
This means 100 grapes should equate to
100 raisins, instead of comparing 100g
of grapes with 100g of raisins. Therefore,
a 40g serving of traditional dried fruit
equals approximately four times the
approximate industry dry-down ratios
Mediterranean Apricots 2.5-3.5 kg
1 kg Dried Mediterranean Apricots
California Plums
3 kg
1 kg California Prunes
Calimyrna Figs
3.3 kg
1 kg Dried Calimyrna Figs
4-4.25 kg
1 kg Raisins
weight in fresh fruit, with exact weights
varying with fruit and drying method.
Additionally, recent studies show that
traditional dried fruits have a low to
moderate glycemic and insulin index
and a glycemic and insulin response
comparable to fresh fruits, possibly
due to the presence of polyphenols,
phenols, and tannins. When using
industry dry-down ratios for fruit, just
one 40g serving of dried fruit would
make a significant contribution towards
meeting the recommendations for fruit
and vegetable intake.
Dried Fruits and Oral Health: Dental
health advice was once based on the
perception that sweet and sticky foods
caused tooth decay, making dried
fruits a target. However, new evidence
demonstrates the contrary position. Dried
fruits may in fact promote oral health.
it lacks much of the fiber of whole fruit.
Including dried fruits alongside fresh
fruits in dietary recommendations
expands the range of nutrients available
to the population, particularly fiber and
potassium, which would be especially
beneficial to a majority of people.
Sucrose is by far the most cariogenic
of sugars and most dried fruits contain
minimal amounts of sucrose, being high
in the less cariogenic sugars fructose
and glucose. Raisins have been shown
to block the adherence of bacteria to
experimental surfaces, and dried fruits
are less retentive than other commercially
available snack foods. Research on
raisins and prunes confirms that they
contain certain bioactive compounds
with antimicrobial properties, capable
of inhibiting the growth of bacteria that
cause cavities and gum disease.
Highlighting the Appealing
Characteristics of Dried Fruits
Vitamin C: At one time, the fact that
dried fruits do not provide vitamin C was
seen as a negative. However, intakes
of vitamin C in the United States and
industrialized countries already meet
or exceed requirements. The Dietary
Guidelines for Americans conclude that it
is unlikely that vitamin C is of major public
health significance for the vast majority of
healthy individuals in the US. This is most
likely because children and adolescents in
the US and other industrialized countries
consume more than half their fruit intake
as fruit juice. Unfortunately, while fruit
juice provides potassium and vitamin C,
Aside from sound scientific benefits of
dried fruits for health protection, there
are significant other attributes that will
help to ensure that dried fruits can appeal
to consumers:
• Convenience: Enviable shelf life; easy
storage; portability; no special
packaging; minimal seasonality issues;
naturally resistant to spoilage; relatively
low cost.
• Transportability: With the majority
of water removed, dried fruits have the
advantage of being considerably lighter,
less perishable and hence easier and
cheaper to transport than fresh fruits.
• Taste and Versatility: Naturally sweet
snack foods can be eaten directly or
used in cooking without loss of texture/
form; a healthy alternative energy
• Lower Cost Fruit Solution: Dried fruits
are ideal in developing countries and
those in poverty where fresh fruits
remain price-prohibitive or not readily
• A Place in History: Historically, dried
fruits were prized foods recognized for
their stability and energy. Documented
through the centuries, from as early as
1700BC in Mesopotamian cuneiform
recipes and extremely popular with the
Romans, dried fruits were staple foods
for civilizations across the Middle East,
the Mediterranean and Asia. As such it
is no surprise that dried fruits occupy
a place in religious and other holiday
menus across the world.
Education on the nutritional and health
attributes of dried fruits is needed
to overcome the perceived disparity
between dried and fresh fruits, and to
increase consumption of dried fruits
on health grounds. Communicating the
need for increased fruit and vegetable
consumption can simultaneously increase
awareness of the many benefits of eating
dried fruits.
In Conclusion
Despite campaigns and educational
efforts, a significant gap still remains
between the recommended amount of
fruits and vegetables and the quantities
actually consumed by populations
around the world. Because they are
naturally resistant to spoilage, easy to
store and transport, available year round,
readily incorporated into other foods,
and relatively low in cost, dried fruits
represent an important means to increase
overall consumption of fruit, to bridge
the gap between recommended intake
of fruits and the amount populations
actually consume.
A complete text of Traditional Dried Fruits: Valuable Tools to Meet Dietary Recommendations for Fruit Intake
is available online at with biographical summaries of the
contributors, along with supporting charts, statistics, and references.
Jennette Higgs — BSc (Hons) Nutrition
RD RPHNutr, Registered Public Health
Nutritionist & Dietitian,,
Member of the INC Scientific &
Government Affairs Committee
[email protected]
+44(0) 1327 354632
Arianna Carughi — PhD, CNS Health &
Nutrition Research Coordinator,
Sun-Maid Growers of California &
California Dried Fruit Coalition
[email protected]
+1 650 799-4420