I like raisins. I like to snack on them when I can’t find anything to munch on, and I like them on bread, pancakes, and salads.
I know that raisins have nutritional value because they are dried grapes but imagine my surprise when I found so many health benefits of raisins.
What are Raisins?
Raisins are dried grapes. When harvested, grapes are laid on brown craft paper trays between the vineyard rows to dry in the sun. This is the traditional and natural sun-drying process which turns grapes into raisins.
The dark brown or black exterior of the raisins is caused by the oxidation and caramelization of the sugars during this drying process.
Golden seedless raisins undergo mechanical drying process. When the grapes are harvested, they are washed in clean water and in hot water to soften the skin. Then the grapes are laid on wooden racks and sent through gas-heated tunnel dryers where hot air is forced in and around the racks.
In this process, the grapes are exposed to sulfur dioxide to prevent caramelization and oxidation so that the raisins can dry in their characteristic golden color.
Raisins have a significant concentration of phenolic compounds which helps in cancer prevention and treatment. There are those who would avoid sulfur dioxide, especially those who have an allergy, but there are more of the health-promoting compounds in golden raisins because the antioxidant effect of the sulfite inhibits the loss of these compounds.
Health Benefits of Raisins
Raisins Help Prevent Cancer
Raisins have high levels of polyphenolic antioxidants called catechins. Antioxidants are very important to our health because they seek out the free radicals in our body to prevent them from causing cellular damage.
Free radicals are one of the factors that cause the spontaneous growth of cancer cells and can speed up metastasis.
Include raisins in your diet so you can increase the antioxidants in your system and decrease your risk of developing cancer but if you already have developed cancer, raisins may help slow down its progress.
Raisins Help Manage Diabetes
A study conducted in 2015 evaluated the effect of routine consumption of dark raisins versus processed snacks on glucose levels and other cardiovascular risk factors of Type 2 diabetes patients.
The study showed that those who consumed raisins had 23% reduction in glucose levels after a meal, a 19% reduction in fasting glucose, and significant reduction in systolic blood pressure.
The research supports raisins as a healthy snack for Type 2 Diabetes patients.
But excessive consumption of raisins may pose a few risk factors. Raisins have high levels of triglycerides because of its high fructose content. High levels of triglycerides can increase the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. If you have other risk factors, limit the raisins in your diet.
While it is safe to have raisins as a dessert option for diabetics, it is best to talk to your doctor about the right portion size.
Raisins Help Protect the Eyes
Raisins are good sources of polyphenolic phytonutrients which are antioxidants which are very good for ocular health. These antioxidants protect the eyes from damage caused by free radicals in the form of age-related weakening of vision, macular degeneration, and cataracts.
Raisins also contain Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and A-Carotenoid which are all essential for good eye health.
Raisins Promote Healthy Weight Gain
Like all dried fruits, raisins are a good way to gain weight in a healthy way since raisins contain fructose and glucose and have lots of potential energy. Raisins are good addition to the diet of athletes or bodybuilders who need a boost of energy, or even those who wish to gain weight without accumulating unhealthy amounts of cholesterol.
They are a good addition to the diet because of the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, such as phosphorus, and selenium. Raisins promote the efficient absorption of other proteins, vitamins, and nutrients from food, which leads to the improvement of your overall energy and boosting of the immune system.
Raisins Help Treat Anemia
Raisins contain a good amount of iron which helps in the treatment of anemia. It also contains most of vitamin B complex that are essential for the formation of new blood, and has a high copper content that helps the formation of red blood cells.