Sun-Maid raisins and dried fruits meet the healthy living guidelines for the daily eating of more fruits and vegetables and less processed flour, sugar-added drinks, and meat. A balanced diet and moderate exercise is available and recommended for all, no matter how hectic or how casual their lifestyles. Sun-Maid is proud that its iconic image of a red box of raisins is included in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) new food pyramid to represent raisins and dried fruits.
The development of technologies and more options in transportation have brought convenience, prosperity, and many good things to people’s lives. That same modernization over time has removed physical activity from daily routines sometimes resulting in poorer health and obesity.
Experts encourage people to increase their daily servings of fruit and dried fruit.
Raisins and dried fruits are completely natural foods, the perfect companions to healthier living. Raisins are a high-energy food, providing natural sugars, potassium, and the fiber and tartaric acid necessary to keep digestive systems healthy. Plus, they are the most concentrated, commonly available fruit source for baking, quick additions to other food items, and snacking.
Just ¼ cup of Sun-Maid raisins (1.5 oz) equals one complete fruit serving.
- Adolescent soccer players who ate raisins during game breaks in a study showed significantly higher blood sugar levels at the end of the game.
- Compared to other common snacks, raisins did not trigger the “let down” or low energy response found a few hours later with the other snacks, among people tested.
- Potassium, a key nutrient in raisins, may help reduce the risk of stroke, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart arrhythmias, and prevent some types of kidney disease.
- Adding just 3 ounces of raisins daily to the diet may prevent constipation and protect against some colon diseases.
Research has long proved that damage by oxygen free radicals is behind many of the problems that come with aging, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. There is firm evidence that a high intake of fruits and vegetables reduces risk of cancer and heart disease, and that a low intake raises risk. And recent evidence suggests diminished brain function associated with aging and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases may be due to increased vulnerability to free radicals. Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage by preventing the formation of free radicals.
Antioxidants in foods are measured according to their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC value. In 2007, the USDA Agriculture Research Service published a new database listing antioxidant values for 277 fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices. In this database, raisins and other dried fruits are ranked among the top foods with highest antioxidant capacities. The USDA recommends eating foods containing at least 3,000 ORAC units a day. The best way to ensure adequate intake of antioxidants is to eat a variety of plant foods through a diet consisting of 4 to 10 servings for adults or 7 to 13 servings for children of fruits and vegetables per day.
The chart below shows the antioxidant value of several common fruits and vegetables.
|Dried Apples = 6681||Prunes = 6552||Dates = 3895|
|Raisins = 3037||Oranges = 1819||Spinach = 1515|
|Broccoli = 1362||Grapes = 1118||Bananas = 879|
For more information on the latest USDA data on food antioxidants,
Raisins rank among the top antioxidant foods, according to USDA government tests. Early findings suggest that eating plenty of fruits high in antioxidants, such as raisins, may help slow the processes associated with aging in both body and brain.
Andrew J. Dannenberg, M.D. a cancer researcher at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University reports that the antioxidant catechin, found in raisins and some other fruits and vegetables, in the diet of mice genetically predisposed to intestinal tumors reduced the number of tumors by at least 70 percent compared to the control group. This type of study adds to the body of evidence which shows that components of fruits and vegetables have the potential to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, colorectal adenomas and other gastrointestinal tumors.
Carl L. Keen, Ph.D. from the University of California Davis reports that a significant amount of raisins eaten daily for 4 weeks increased the plasma antioxidant capacity. This in turn decreased the level of circulating oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as the “bad cholesterol.” These data clearly show raisins are an important part of a 5-a-day diet where the benefits of eating raisins are similar to benefits seen when eating other fruits and vegetables with these plant antioxidants.
Christine D. Wu, M.S., Ph.D. of the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Dentistry has found that raisins contain compounds including oleanolic acid that inhibit in vitro growth of the bacteria in the mouth responsible for tooth decay. Oleanic acid and other compounds in raisins also inhibit organisms associated with periodontal disease. Prevention of plaque building up on the tooth surface is critical both for preventing tooth decay and promoting healthy gums.
Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D. of the University of Maine reports that dietary fiber and other components may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer by binding bile acids and causing their elimination from the body. Camire’s study confirms that eating fibrous foods, such as raisins, stimulates the body to replace the bile acids that have been eliminated by making them from its own cholesterol, thus potentially lowering serum cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, bile acids that are bound by fibers such as those in raisins will not be metabolized to a more toxic form and this may potentially reduce cancer risk.
Gene A. Spiller, Ph.D. of the Sphera Foundation and Health Research Studies Center – Los Altos, CA reports feeding of raisins along with peanuts to 10-12 year old children prior to a soccer game resulted in lower increases in blood glucose and insulin than a snack of a white bagel and jam. This is important because it means a more steady fuel supply to the exercising muscle of the young players. Lower insulin levels are advantageous because high levels of circulating insulin can promote the laying down of fat and may lead to insulin resistance, a concern among US children today, where rates of obesity and type 2 Diabetes are increasing.