Raisins Naturally Nutritious

Raisins – who would ever guess this humble dried fruit packs quite the nutritional punch.  Now, if you love raisins, you need to know a little bit about their birthplace.  Within a 60 mile radius in the central San Joaquin Valley in California is the heart of raisin country.  This area produces 100% of the raisins for the United States which totals approximately 350,000 tons a year. 

We all know raisins come from grapes but it’s the process of going from a grape to a raisin that may be a little fuzzy for many of us.  What are essentially dried grapes, raisins are typically dried by the sun either on paper trays or on the vine.  After the drying process, they are brought from the vineyards, stored in wooden bins and then processed by having their stems and capstems removed before they are sorted by size, cleaned and washed in water.

This portable, convenient tiny fruit is one of the most economical and nutritious dried fruits you’ll find.  Raisins by nature are naturally good for us.  In a one-quarter cup serving, raisins provide no fat, 6% of the daily value for iron, 9% of the daily value for fiber, and 9% of the daily value for potassium. 

Those important nutrients raisins contain can do a lot to raise our good health status.  Here’s how:

·         Heart health

A study conducted at the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Center (L-MARC) suggests that eating raisins three times a day may significantly lower blood pressure among individuals with slightly higher than normal blood pressure, also known as prehypertension.

The study looked at 46 men and women with prehypertension and randomly assigned participants to snack on raisins or other snacks that did not include raisins.  This was done three times a day for 12 weeks.  What was found was compared to the snacks without raisins the raisins by themselves significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. 

Raisins are a good source of dietary fiber and beneficial nutrients such as potassium and antioxidants associated with cardio-protective benefits like reducing blood pressure. 

·         Positive influence on diabetes

It used to be thought dried fruit such as diabetes would not be a good choice for someone with diabetes because of its more concentrated sugar content.  However, research as suggested that eating raisins may improve glucose levels. 

A 12-week randomized study of 51 participants with type 2 diabetes, found that regular consumption of 1 ounce of raisins three times a day, when compared to other snacks, had the following positive impact on their diabetes:

·         23% reduction in postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels.

·         19% reduction in fasting glucose


·         Increases a feeling of fullness

Raisin may just be that perfect after-school snack.  Canadian researchers found that eating raisins prevented excessive calorie intake while increasing satiety in children who consumed them as an after-school snack. 

Study participants were randomly assigned to eat raisins or other snacks until they felt comfortably full.  The children eating raisins consumed significantly fewer calories when compared to other snacks.  This study suggests that children who come home from school hungry be offered raisins as a healthy and filling snack to prevent excessive calorie intake, increase the sense of fullness which can help contribute to the maintenance of a healthy body weight in school-age children.

·         Provides a workout boost

For athletes who depend on commercially prepared carbohydrate sports chews to provide an athletes performance boost, may want to reconsider going more natural.  Research at the University of California-Davis found that whether it was sports chews or raisins, both resulted in promoting a higher carbohydrate oxidation thereby providing more endurance for runners needing to avoid depleting their glycogen stores.

Not only was there no difference in running performance between raisins and sports chews, but there was also no significant gastrointestinal differences.

·         Benefits dental health

Raisins may be a snack to consider helping improve dental health.  Research published in Phytochemistry Letters showed that raisins may benefit oral health because they contain antimicrobial phytochemicals that may suppress growth of some oral bacteria associated with dental cavities and gum disease.

This research builds upon previous research that has also identified naturally occurring beneficial phytochemicals in raisins that work to prevent bacteria associated with dental caries and gum disease. 

There were eight known compounds form raisins that were isolated and studied for their protective effects against oral pathogens.  Half of the compounds were found to have antimicrobial properties.  One of them called oleanolic acid was not only found to have antimicrobial properties but in addition also anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties, which may suggest this natural compound found in raisins may provide more health benefits beyond oral health. 

Next time you are looking for a nutritious snack, think of raisins – a natural go-to food boosting your health and well-being.