By- Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
They may appear unappealing with their aged appearance and shriveled texture, but raisins are whole, nutrient-dense, and minimally processed foods that are extremely versatile in the kitchen. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, energy, and electrolytes. They have a plethora of health benefits, which include improved digestion, bone health, iron levels, blood flow, fertility, and sleep. They have also been known for boosting energy, as well as for their positive impact on eyes, teeth, and hair.
What are Raisins?
Raisins are created by drying grapes, either in the sun or in driers, which turns the grapes into golden, green, or black dried fruit. They are naturally sweet in flavor and are widely used in cuisines around the world, especially in desserts. (1)
Health Benefits of Raisins
Raisins can be a helpful and beneficial addition to the diet.
Aid in digestion: Raisins may be a simple way to help keep the digestive system healthy. Raisins contain helpful soluble fibers, which give body to the stool and help it pass through the intestines easier. This may help improve digestion and promote regularity.
Prevent anemia: Raisins may play a part in preventing anemia. They contain good amounts of iron, copper, and vitamins that are essential for making red blood cells and carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Prevent too much acidity: Raisins contain substantial amounts of beneficial minerals, such as iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. These are alkaline, or basic, minerals on the pH scale and may help balance acidity levels in the stomach.
Lower risk of heart disease risk factors: A study posted to Postgraduate Medicine noted that regularly eating raisins may help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure rate, when compared to other snacks. This is because raisins are a low sodium food that also contains a good source of potassium, which helps the blood vessels relax.
Fight against cancer cells: Raisins are also a good source of antioxidant compounds. Dietary antioxidants are essential, as they may protect the body from oxidative damage and free radicals. Oxidative damage and free radicals are risk factors in many types of cancer, tumor growth, and aging.
Protect eye health: Raisins contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may protect the cells in the eyes from free radical damage. This may in turn help protect the eyes from eye disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Improve skin health: Antioxidants may help keep the skin cells young and prevent damage from aging cells. Raisins also contain valuable nutrients, such as vitamin C, selenium, and zinc. This combination of nutrients and antioxidants may be a helpful addition to a diet that focuses on creating good skin health.
Lower blood sugar: The Postgraduate Medicine study also noted that compared to eating other snacks, regularly eating raisins may help lower a person’s blood sugar. Even though raisins contain a more concentrated amount of sugars than fresh fruit, raisin intake compared to processed snacks decreased hemoglobin A1C, which is a marker of blood sugar management. (2)
Make your own raisins
- Get some grapes.
- Remove the large stems.
- Wash them in cool water.
- Place them on a tray, and set the tray outside on a dry, sunny day (it works best if the tray has holes or cracks for air circulation).
- Rotate the grapes to ensure even sun exposure. In just two or three days, you will have your own raisins.
Raisins contain enough sugar to give you a burst of energy and are a great addition to a healthful diet for most people. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, consider replacing unhealthy, sugary snacks with raisins. (3)
Uses of Raisins:
- Fresh and properly stored raisins do not require any special attention before eating or using them in a recipe.
- Raisins can be enjoyed alone or can be combined with other dry fruits like dates, almonds, apricots and prunes for a healthy snack.
- They taste best when taken with warm milk.
- You can add raisins to your breakfast cereals, homemade granola or sprinkle on a bowl of oatmeal.
- You can also keep them in your purse or bag for a healthy on-the-go snack.
- If the raisins have dried out, place them in a bowl filled with hot water for a few minutes. You can use this raisin-infused liquid for preparing a side dish. Use soaked raisin on top of a chicken dish or layer it with plain yoghurt to make a dessert parfait. Their sweetness and texture makes them a great addition to poultry stuffing.
- Raisins are used extensively in salads and are added to curries in some cuisines.
- They go well with most of the baked foods and are a sought after item in the confectioneries. They are added in muffins, cookies, biscuits, pies, and cakes. They are also used in the preparation of jams, jellies and puddings. (4)