Dried Fruit vs Fruit Chips: Which Snack Wins?

Fact: Dried fruits are a good source of dietary fiber and helps to promote bowel regularity

A study published in the National Institues of Health claims that dried fruit (specifically dried prunes/plums), can contribute to normal bowel function. The research suggests that the natural sugars, sorbitol, and fiber found in dried prunes have a mild laxative effect, helping to prevent constipation and promote digestive health. This finding highlights the potential benefits of incorporating dried fruits into your diet, but how do they compare to fruit chips in terms of overall healthiness and nutritional value?

Dried fruits and fruit chips may seem similar, but there are distinctive differences between the two in terms of preparation methods, nutritional value, and uses. Whether you’re a health enthusiast or just looking for a tasty snack, understanding these differences can help you make better dietary choices.

What are Dried Fruits?

Dried fruit is fruit from which almost all the original water content has been removed either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators. The result is a shriveled fruit that retains the sugars and nutrients of the original fruit, but in a highly concentrated form. Common varieties of dried fruits include raisins, dates, prunes, figs, and apricots.

What are Fruit Chips?

Fruit chips, on the other hand, are typically fruits that are sliced and then dried or baked until they achieve a crispy texture. Popular fruits used for chips include apples, bananas, and pineapples. Unlike dried fruits, chips are often aimed at achieving a crunchy texture and may include added ingredients such as sugars, spices, or preservatives to enhance flavor and crunchiness.

Nutritional Comparison

  1. Caloric Content and Sugar

Both dried fruits and fruit chips are higher in sugar and calories than their fresh counterparts due to the concentration of natural sugars during the drying process. However, fruit chips can sometimes contain added sugars, making them potentially higher in calories.

  1. Vitamins and Minerals

Drying fruits preserves most of the vitamins and minerals. However, the vitamin C content is significantly reduced due to its sensitivity to heat and air. Depending on the drying process, fruit chips might retain less of the original nutrients compared to traditional dried fruits.

  1. Fiber

Both dried fruits and fruit chips retain high levels of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health. The fiber content can help in feeling full, which is beneficial for those managing their weight.

Health Impacts

Dried fruits have been associated with numerous health benefits. According to the study by Alasalvar et al. (2023) dried fruits are packed with bioactive compounds like phenolic compounds that help fight free radicals, reducing oxidative stress that can lead to tissue damage, aging, and chronic diseases.

Studies suggest that they can improve diet quality and increase nutrient intake without significant weight gain, if consumed in moderation [source: Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism]. However, due to their high sugar content, it is advisable for those with diabetes or those watching their calorie intake to consume them in moderation.

Fruit chips, while offering the convenience and appeal of a crispy snack, often come with added sugars or salts, which can diminish their nutritional value. It’s important to read labels carefully to choose options with no added sugars or preservatives.