The heat and warmth of the sun produce deliciously dried grapes - succulent raisins, full of concentrated flavor and rich in vitamins and nutrients. Although they are fairly high in natural sugars and calories, they are an excellent source of energy for long hikes, as well as rich in antioxidants and fiber. Raisins have all of the potent benefits of grapes - bone strength, digestive aids, and the sweetness of candy. Raisins are a versatile addition to any healthy diet. Baked into bread or muffins, tossed in a salad or oatmeal, and eaten alone as a portable snack, there are many health benefits to raisins.
The fiber in raisins - roughly 3 grams per serving - is around 6 to 12 percent of your recommended daily allowance. If your gut isn't moving as smoothly as you'd like, this dried fruit may help with bowel movements. They add bulk to your undigested food, helping it move through your digestive tract smoothly In addition to the necessary dietary fiber, raisins are relatively high in natural fruit sugars, which can have a laxative effect on some people. Not only do raisins help regulate your digestion, studies show that they help reduce toxic bile fluids in your gut, which contribute to the risk of colon cancer.
Although all raisins have antioxidants - compounds that improve your health at the cellular level - those made from red grapes, especially, have significant antioxidant levels. Free radicals in your body - smaller molecules that harm and prevent healthy regeneration of new cells - can cause unhealthy cells to multiply into cancerous growths. Antioxidants help reduce the presence of free radicals and balance your body's system to reduce the growth of malignant cells. Although eating foods rich in antioxidants isn't a guarantee against cancer, studies have shown that the phenolic compounds found in raisins can retard and eliminate the growth of gastric cancer cells.
The health of your blood dictates the heath of the rest of your body. Anemia is a result of low iron levels in the blood, causing fatigue and sluggishness. A diet low in iron and Vitamin B12 inhibits the ability of your blood to carry oxygen to the muscle cells and organs in your body. Eating iron-rich foods, such as raisins, can increase your B12 levels and iron levels safely, without the risk of over-consumption that iron supplements can have. Raisins contain B Vitamin compounds responsible for the formation of new blood. They're also part of the recommended diet for anemia prevention by the Heart, Blood, and Lung Association.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects millions of people. In fact, it can lead to stroke and is referred to as the "silent killer" due to the lack of symptoms. Although only a blood pressure test can determine if have hypertension, eating foods like raisins can lower your blood pressure. The iron and potassium in raisins relax your blood vessels and allow more oxygen to be carried by your blood cells, both of which have an effect on lowering blood pressure. In addition, B vitamins, especially B12, reduce the impact of free radical molecules that damage cells. Eliminating free radicals has an especially beneficial effect on lowering systolic blood pressure.
Everyone knows that proper amounts of calcium help strengthen your bones and lower the risk of osteoporosis. However, even if you have a diet rich in calcium, if you aren't able to absorb it, then it won't have the health effects you'd like. Raisins have a high level of boron, which helps your body absorb the calcium you ingest. In addition to helping build stronger bones, raisins are also linked to a higher bone density in postmenopausal women, helping prevent calcium loss and bone demineralization.
The calcium in raisins that helps your bones grow stronger, and the boron that helps your body absorb the calcium, help keep your teeth strong and healthy. A raisin also contains oleanolic acid - it's a phytochemical that has antibacterial properties. This reduces that amount of harmful, tooth-decaying bacteria in your mouth and saliva. Oleanolic acid also prevents common bacteria from growing in your mouth - so instead of switching with mouthwash, or chewing gum, consider slowly chewing raisins instead.
Raisins can help you gain, lose, or maintain weight, depending on your goals and how much of them you eat! The high fiber content of raisins enables you to stay fuller longer and may be a good way to prevent overeating between meals. With plenty of vitamins and minerals, they can be a good part of a low-calorie balanced plate. If you're trying to put on weight, eating raisins can help. They're small, yet calorie dense, especially in natural fruit sugars. If you increase your serving from one to several, you'll help boost your calorie count while bringing vital nutrients to the muscles you're gaining. Just remember their fiber content, and increase your serving gradually, to prevent unwelcome side effects.
Decreasing LDL cholesterol in your blood is important for heart health. Raisins can lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood, thus reducing your risk of heart attack. Triglycerides are also a contributor to poor cardiovascular health - eating more raisins will help drop those levels, as well. Not only are they important to preventing high cholesterol, raisins are also a great low sodium source of potassium. This is necessary to improve overall heart health.
Free radicals aren't just damaging to your internal organs and cells. They also impact the health of your skin, from the deepest layers out. Anti-oxidant properties that decrease your risk of cancer also helps improve the health and appearance of your skin. Antioxidants increase healthy regeneration of cells and prevent damaged cells from growing. These properties help your skin show fewer effects of aging and break-outs due to bacteria.
Raisins are very flexible and can be a part of every meal of the day. Adding them to oatmeal makes a balanced breakfast, with extra fiber to help keep your gut regular. If you enjoy baking, a cup of raisins can spice up muffins, sweet bread, and even cookies. Toss them in salads with fresh greens for lunch or dinner. Or mixed into compound dishes, like chicken salad or ham salad. If you enjoy couscous or quinoa, add half a cup of raisins to the mix. For a snack, mix raisins with nuts for a healthy trail mix - or just eat them alone. A children's favorite is "ants on a log" - celery topped with peanut butter and raisin.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.