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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Raisins nutrition facts

Raisins nutrition facts

Raisins are dried grapes/currants. However, unlike fresh grapes, they indeed are rich and concentrated natural sources of energy, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals. In addition, they are packed with several health benefiting poly phenolics anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, and other phyto-nutrients.

raisinsRed grapes
Dried Thompson seedless.
Photo courtesy: dottiemae
Red/purple variety grapes.

In general, fresh grapes either seedless or seed types of the Vinifera species, such as Thompson Seedless (Sultana), Sugarone, Calmeria, Corinth... etc., are subjected to sundry or in mechanical drying techniques. In some cases, the whole bunch of grapes may be allowed to dry in the vine itself (vine-dried). The moisture content should not exceed 16% of dry weight. Thoroughly dried raisins are further stemmed, cap-stemmed, sorted, and cleaned in order to obtain right quality, dried berries. At the commercial level, the berries are processed and graded further before sold in the markets.
Types (varieties) of processed raisins:
  • Type I - Seedless.
  • Type II - Golden seedless.
  • Type III - Raisins with seeds.
  • Type IV - Sultana.
  • Type V - Zante currant.
  • Type VI - Mixed types or varieties.

Health benefits of raisins

  • Raisins, like dried apricotsfigs, and prunes, are dense sources of energy, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. On weight per weight comparison basis, 100 g of dried grapes provide 249 calories, several times more fiber, vitamins, minerals and poly-phenol antioxidants than the fresh grapes. Raisins, however, contain fewer amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, carotenes, lutein and xanthins than in the fresh grapes.
  • The total measured anti-oxidant strength (ORAC value) of 100 g raisin is 3037 �mol Trolex Equivalents (TE), while that of fresh grapes 1118 �mol TE/100 g.
  • As in grapes, raisins also contain phytochemical compound resveratrol. Resveratrol, a polyphenol anti-oxidant, has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, blood cholesterol lowering activities. Studies suggest that resveratrol has been found to have protective action against cancers like melanoma, colon and prostate, and diseases such as coronary heart disease (CHD), degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease and viral/ fungal infections.
  • In addition, resveratrol reduces stroke risk by altering the molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels. It does so firstly by reducing susceptibility of blood vessels damage through decreased activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) and secondly, through increased production of the vasodilator substance, nitric oxide (a beneficial compound that causes relaxation of blood vessels).
  • Like in grapes they, especially those derived from red/purple grapes, are very high in anthocyanins, another class of polyphenolic anti-oxidants. Anthocyanins have been found to have anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer activities.
  • 100 g raisins provide 3.7 g or 10% of daily-required levels of dietary fiber. Studies suggest moderate fiber in the diet help lower body weight, cholesterol levels in the blood, and colon and breast cancer incidence as well as constipation episodes by decreasing GI transit time of food. Furthermore, they are also abundant in flavonoid compounds such as tartaric acid, tannins, catechins...etc. Together with inulin and fiber; these compounds aid in smooth bowel movements through their laxative function.
  • They are free of gluten toxin and can be consumed by people who do not tolerate gluten as an alternative healthy food.
  • Raisins are dense sources minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium copper, fluoride, and zinc. Copper and manganese are an essential co-factor of antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. 100 g provides 23% daily requirement levels of iron. 
  • In addition, they are rich in heart-healthy electrolyte potassium. 100 g provide 749 mg of potassium. Potassium reduces heart rate, blood pressure by countering sodium and thereby helps prevent stroke, CHD, and peripheral vascular diseases. 
  • Furthermore, they are also good source of some B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.

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