This article is being written on the premise that fruit is healthy. Yes, it is! Very healthy in fact. What is so healthy about fruit, you ask?
Fresh, whole fruit contains many nutrients. The most basic, yet prominent, nutrient that fruit features is carbohydrates – both simple sugars (short sugar chains), as well as the carbohydrate that is fiber. Most fruits don’t contain starch, those long sugar chains found in many other carbohydrate sources. The carbohydrates found in fruits are in a super nutritious and colorful package of hydration, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Amazingly, the beautiful, varying colors of natural produce signify that they contain a powerful pack of nutrients, and each color is correlated with different benefits. Though the varied health benefits of these nutrients are beyond the scope of this article, the bottom line is that substituting fruit for other foods in a person’s diet has been proven to improve heart health, gut health, and reduce inflammation. In addition, enjoying the sweetness of a brightly colored, crisp, fruit can really improve one’s mood!
However, does fruit still provide health benefits once it’s processed? Think canned, dried, frozen, or juiced fruit products.
In order to accurately determine the benefit of choosing to consume a food product, we have to look at the nutrient content, which lets us know the health benefits of the food. Of course, how much a person actually likes a food is important as well as accessibility and price point.
<h2>Health Benefits of Frozen Fruit:</h2>
When a fruit is destined to be frozen, it’s picked at the peak of its ripeness (when they are most nutritionally dense), and flash frozen right away, which retains nutrients. Thus, frozen fruit will generally have at least as much nutrient content as fresh fruit, as long as it’s unsweetened with no additives.
<h2>Health Benefits of Canned Fruit:</h2>
Canned fruit, on the other hand, will lose some nutrient content in the canning process, though most nutrients are retained. In addition, it can be challenging to find canned fruit products that don’t have a whole lot of sugar added in the form of juice or syrup. You can be comfortable buying canned fruits as a healthy choice if it is packed in its own juice and you have scrutinized that nutrition facts label for added sugar.
<h2>Health Benefits of Dried Fruit:</h2>
Dried fruit is dried. Thus, the nutrients that dried fruit contain are condensed in volume. There are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, the high fiber and nutrient content of even a small amount of dried fruit is considerable. However, when eating dried fruit it’s very easy to eat a tremendous amount of calories without even noticing because of how densely packaged it is.
Frozen, canned, and dried fruit all have the added bonus of being non-perishable and easy to have on hand with little prep necessary to enjoy them. Their nutritional profiles are slightly different, though each can be a healthy choice.
<h2>Health Benefits of Fruit Juice:</h2>
Fruit juice is another story altogether. Commercial fruit juices contain only the sugar and water extracted from the fruit, while the rest of the nutrients are disposed of. Juices that contain vitamin C generally have the vitamin added to the juice just as a preservative – and perhaps as a marketing gimmick. In essence, fruit juice is not much better than any other sugar-sweetened beverage.
To sum up, different forms of fruit can indeed be that healthy, sweet snack that you are craving this Tu Bishvat!