Health Benefits Of Raisins

Raisins are dried grapes/currants. However, unlike fresh grapes, they are a rich and dense natural source of energy, vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals. In addition, they are packed with many health benefiting poly-phenolics anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, and other phyto-nutrients. Comparing raisins to fresh grapes, 100 grams of dried grapes provide 249 calories, several times more fiber, vitamins, minerals and poly-phenol antioxidants. However, they contain lesser amounts of vitamin-C, folic acid, carotenes, lutein and xanthins than their fresh counterpart.

Just like in grapes, raisins also contain the phyto-chemical compound resveratrol. Resveratrol, a polyphenol anti-oxidant, has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and blood cholesterol lowering activities. Studies suggest that resveratrol has been found to be protective against cancers like melanoma, colon and prostate, coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease and viral and fungal infections.

Resveratrol also reduces stroke risk by altering the molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels. It does this by reducing the susceptibility of blood vessel damage through decreased activity of angiotensin, which is a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure. A second method that resveratrol reduces stroke risk is through the increased production of the vasodilator substance, nitric oxide, which is a beneficial compound that causes the relaxation of blood vessels.

Another similarity to grapes, especially those derived from red/purple grapes, is that raisins are very high in anthocyanins, which is another class of polyphenolic anti-oxidants. Anthocyanins have been found to have anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer activities.

100 grams of raisins provide 10 percent of daily requirements of dietary fiber. Studies suggest moderate fiber in the diet help lower body weight, cholesterol levels in the blood, and colon and breast cancer incidence as well as constipation episodes by decreasing GI transit time of food. Furthermore, they are also abundant in flavonoid compounds such as tararic acid, tannins, and catechins. Along with inulin and fiber, these compounds aid in the laxative action.

Raisins are dense sources of minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium copper, flouride, and zinc. Copper and manganese are an essential co-factor of antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. 100 grams provides 23 percent of the  daily requirement of iron.

In addition, they are rich in heart healthy electrolyte potassium. 100 grams provide 749 milligrams of potassium. Potassium reduces heart rate, blood pressure by countering sodium and thereby helps prevent stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular diseases.

Raisins are also a good source of some B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.

Buy raisins that are full-fleshed, and plump in appearance. It is alright to have fine wrinkles, but avoid old ones as well as those with excess moisture, mold, or affected by sunburn, scars, insect injury, mechanical injury, or other similar means which may seriously affect their appearance, as that will greatly reduce the quality of the raisin.

Being dry fruit, raisins have long shelf life. They keep well when stored in airtight containers and placed away from moisture, humidity, sun light and high temperature. They can also be stored inside the refrigerator.

Happy Lifting!

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