Raisin Health Profiles
Raisins have been a long-standing snack for many generations, but most consumers are unaware of the health benefits that come with consuming raisins on a regular basis. Hundreds of research studies in just the past few years alone have confirmed and expanded on the myriad health benefits of consuming raisins.
In fact, the entire issue of The Journal of Food Science (June 2013) is dedicated to raisin and health research.
One recent study compared the diet quality of regular consumers of raisins and dried fruit to those who do not consume such items on a regular basis. Compounds in raisins contributing to this positive health profile include: iron, oleanolic acid (a powerful cellular anti-inflammatory compound), fiber, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. The raisins/dried fruit consumers had better diets overall, including intake of fiber (averaging 6g more per day), vitamin A (by 173mcg more daily), vitamin C (20mg more) vitamin E (1.5mg), potassium (432mg), calcium (103mg) and magnesium (72mg).
Another benefit consumers of raisins and dried fruit enjoy is that as the quality of diet increases, waist circumference decreases.
A second study on raisins, conducted at Mt. St. Vincent University, Nova Scotia, Canada, focused on after-school snacking in children and how foods they ate influenced caloric intake. Cookies, potato chips, grapes and raisins were used as after-school snacks in this study. When the children were given potato chips or cookies, caloric intake increased 81% and 121%, respectively. Cumulative caloric intake for the day was 17-25% lower when the children consumed either raisins or grapes, compared to the consumption of chips or cookies.
A similar study at the University of Toronto, Canada, compared the effects of drinking water vs. consuming raisins as a pre-meal snack before pizza. The study found that having children consume raisins 30 minutes before a meal reduced the amount of pizza consumed by 12%, as compared to drinking water.
A third study, conducted at the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center in Kentucky found that raisins might help reduce blood pressure. The participants of this study ate either 1oz of raisins or 1oz of a traditional snack food, three times a day for 12 weeks. The group that consumed raisins saw a significant drop in blood pressure. It’s thought that this was secondary to the high potassium content of raisins. The same study also looked at blood glucose levels and found a significant reduction in blood glucose when raisins are consumed regularly. This is probably due do the fact that raisins have a low glycemic index of only 49.
Some consumers have been misinformed that raisins can cause dental caries. However, research has shown that dental caries form at a pH of 5.5, and raisins do not lower the pH below 6.0. Thus, raisins are not likely to contribute to the formation of cavities and, in fact, could even help prevent them by balancing oral pH.
An interesting recent study looked at consuming raisins while running. The results showed that raisins consumed while running work just as well as the popular gel shots at maintaining energy levels.
There’s no doubt raisins contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle. The more often they are consumed, the more they help a person’s health in almost all aspects. Incorporating raisins as a key ingredient in foods and formulations, from baked goods and confection to cereals to sauces gives consumers multiple daily opportunities to take advantage of those benefits.
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