The world of Tzu Chi Nov-Dec 2022 (Vol.144)

2022 • 12 50 ellness Translated by Lee You Zhuan Are Dried Fruits Real Fruits? Pairing dried fruits with other ingredients, such as nuts, oatmeal or yogurt, not only brings different tastes and textures, and improves the overall nutritional value, but also effectively deters excessive consumption. I prepared dried figs and nut butter as a gift for an old friend whom I have not met in years. I was quietly enjoying every bite of the traditional Chinese Horseshoe Biscuits (Ma Ti Su) that my old friend brought me while listening intently to his life story. He cut open the packet of dried figs and ate one. Moments later, he paused on the wonderful story he was sharing, looked at me and asked, puzzled, “This dried fig is too sweet! It is so sweet, it must be unhealthy, right?” I understood his worry. Sugar content in dried fruits is of a concern to many. Like other dried fruits, the sweetness of dried figs does not come from added sugar; the dehydration process in making dried fruits causes water loss, which concentrates the natural sugars in them. Comparing equal weight of fresh fruit and dried fruit, the content of dietary fibre, minerals (e.g., potassium, magnesium and calcium) and phytochemicals (e.g., flavonoids and carotenes) in dried fruits is higher than that in fresh fruits. The phytochemicals also contribute to the antioxidant properties of dried fruits. Quantity is the focal point Dried fruits are rich in nutrients, but the downside is that they are relatively high in sugar and calories. Therefore, if dried fruits are eaten as snacks without restraint, it will result in excessive calorie intake that the body does not use, and over a period of time, unsurprisingly, there will be weight gain. “As such, fresh fruit is the healthier option! Dried fruits are so sweet and unhealthy,” said my old friend. Not eating (or only eating) certain foods is not necessarily a bonus to health, and it is an unnecessary obsession to equate the two directly. The key is portion control. In the world of nutrition, there is no stipulation that “certain food must be eaten and certain food must be avoided”. Eating should be happy and enjoyable. As long as the food consumed does not cause digestive problems or allergies, when consumed in moderation, there is nothing to worry about. In addition to genetics, we live in different environments and have different working conditions. When we are busy with work and family responsibilities, regular meal times become a luxury. Hence, dried fruit is a good solution to curb hunger, especially when fresh fruit is not readily available. Think about it, how many people would want to stuff a bunch of bulky and heavy grapes in their small belt bags when training for a marathon? Conversely, it is much more feasible to go on outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing, with raisins, dried figs, dried apricots, dried mangoes, and the like, which can be conveniently brought along as snacks to replenish glycogen and energy.