The most common dried fruits include raisins, apricots, dates, apples, plums and figs. They can be bought at almost any grocery store. According to the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios and some pine nuts have the highest nutrient value. The nuts are rich in oils, but do not exceed five grams of fat per 50 oz. serving. Various nuts can be bought fresh from farmers markets. Buy raw and unsalted nuts for optimal health benefits.
Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. This can reduce the risk of Type II diabetes and blood lipid disorders. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E, which can reduce risk of Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Peanuts and other legumes have niacin, folate and vitamin B, which reduce the risk of heart disease and birth defects. Pine nuts, peanuts and almonds have between 6 and 7 grams of protein per 1 oz. serving. Dried fruits have high amounts of fiber, vitamin E, vitamin A and niacin.
Recommended Daily Intake
The United States Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults and teenagers get three and a half to six and a half servings of fruits or vegetables per day. Children age five to 12 need 2.5 to 5 cups per day. These ranges are based on sedentary to active lifestyles. Dried fruit contain fiber, and the USDA recommends adults consume at least 25 g per day. One ounce of walnuts meets the RDI for omega-3 fatty acids. According to “The Wall Street Journal: Health,” eating 1.5 oz. of nuts per day reduces risk of heart disease, but 2.5 oz. significantly lowers triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
Dried fruit and nuts make a delicious snack between meals. Their combination of protein and carbohydrates will satisfy body fuel needs and help you stay full. They are very portable, so pack a baggie full of them and keep it in your purse or car so they are always available. Add nuts and dried fruit to a salad for extra flavor. They can even be a topping on ice cream, or for a better option, frozen yogurt. It’s a healthy alternative for satisfying that sweet craving.
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