Fruits are a part of every healthy diet. But sometimes we get too preoccupied that we forget to grab our fruit a day to keep the doctor away. Others on healthy low-carb diets or the ketogenic diet are quite limited in the fruit aisle because of these foods’ high sugar content.
For convenience purposes, people opt for dried fruit as a healthy snack because of their nutritional values. A crowd’s favorite, especially over Thanksgiving and Christmas, cranberries have quite the nutritional profile.
Today, we will discuss their nutritional values in their dried form, the health benefits of including them in your diet, and the side effects of incorporating them into your diet. I’ll also tell you the recommended daily intake of this food. By the end of your reading, you should be able to answer the question, is dried cranberry good for you?
Is Dried Cranberry Good for You?
You will get dried cranberries from dehydrating fresh cranberries. They undergo the same process as making raisins from dehydrated grapes. If you prefer referring to them as craisins, we are on the same page.
You know me and how much I advocate for homemade products over their store-bought counterparts. The same applies to cranberry products whether it is cranberry juice or craisins! Why I am very particular about this, in this case, is because store-bought dried cranberries are usually coated with added sugar and extra vegetable oil. This is done to make them stick together.
But let’s not shun away any cranberry products (especially this one), without knowing their nutritional content.
Dried Cranberries Calories
Are dried cranberries high-calorie foods? Can you add them to your weight loss diet when trying to achieve a calorie deficit? Let’s find out! According to the USDA, a cup serving (160-gram serving) of dried cranberries contains:
- Energy: 493 kcals
- Total carbs: 132 grams of carbs
- Dietary fiber: 8.48 grams of fiber
- Total sugar: 116 grams of sugar
- Net carbs: 123.52 grams of carbs
- Protein: 0.272 grams of protein
- Fat: 1.74 grams of fat
- Sodium: 8 mg
- Vitamin E: 3.36 mg
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: 221 µg
Based on this nutritional information, is dried cranberry good for you? The nutrient density of craisins is low because they contain too much-added sugars.
Do Dried Cranberries Have Any Nutritional Value?
Taking a look at the nutrition facts of this food, what can you say about their nutritional density? In terms of calories, they are low in calories. They are also not high in protein nor high in fat.
For calorie breakdown, 97% of calories in dried cranberries come from carbohydrates. This is the main concern when it comes to the intake of cranberries. Which carbs does this fruit contain?
The tart taste of cranberry products makes manufacturers add sugar for flavor improvement. Compared to fresh cranberries, unsweetened craisins have more calories and sugar content. In 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries, you will get 11.5 kcals, 3 grams of carbs, 0.9 grams of dietary fiber, 1.1 grams of sugar, and 2.1 grams of net carbs.
Most of the carbs in dried cranberries are sugar. This food (unsweetened) has a glycemic index of 62 and a glycemic load of 19. Cranberries with sugar added have a glycemic load of 51 and a glycemic index of 65. Fresh cranberries have a glycemic index of 45 and a glycemic load of 5.5. This means dried cranberry consumption can lead to spikes in blood sugar. Generally, the consumption of dried cranberries may not be a great idea for people with diabetes.
People with diabetes should go for homemade cranberry juice considering it is low carb. However, they need to be careful how much they consume. In a cup of cranberry juice, you will get 30.6 g of net carbs.
They are a good source of fiber. In terms of micronutrients, dried cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants that help curb inflammations that cause chronic diseases. They are also an excellent source of vitamins E, C, and K, and manganese and copper.
To answer the above question, yes, they have some nutritional values. Consuming them will lead to excess sugar intake which is not good for human health.
How Many Dried Cranberries Should I Eat in A Day?
Excessive consumption of cranberries is not advisable considering how much sugar they contain. I wouldn’t advise adding these dried fruits to your daily diet considering what they can do to your blood sugar levels. Opt for other low-carb berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, in their fresh form not dried.
If you must have dried cranberries (definitely not as part of your daily diet), do not exceed 1/4th cup serving of the unsweetened kind. This will provide you with 85 kcals, 20 g of sugar, 23 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of fiber, and 21.5 g of net carbs. Keep off dried cranberries with sugar added.
They should be avoided on low-carb diets and by people struggling to control their blood glucose levels.
Dried Cranberries Benefits
Despite their high carb and sugar count, these fruits have some health benefits that can do your body some good. These potential health benefits are attributed to the food’s high fiber content, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
Dried Cranberry Health Benefits
Excellent Source of Fiber
The non-digestible carbs, and fiber, play a crucial role in human health. If you are looking for good sources of fiber, craisins do make the cut. Fiber assists with keeping your gut in good shape. Soluble fiber dissolves in water in the stomach and intestine to form a viscous gel-like substance that slows down bowel movement, digestion and promotes nutrient absorption.
Increasing fiber intake promotes satiety by slowing down digestion and absorption of food. It also impacts hunger-regulating hormones lowering food intake.
You can also count on fiber to ensure healthy blood lipid levels. It binds with low-density lipoproteins (LDL-cholesterol) lowering their amounts in your body. This alone ensures a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
It may not have high amounts of nutrients but it does compensate in flavor. You can consume craisins as snacks, cereals, baked products, or salads. Whatever floats your boat! Get creative. However, check ingredient labels before using store-bought craisins to make sure they are unsweetened.
Is dried cranberry good for you? Its antioxidant properties are good for you! The skin of cranberries is concentrated with powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects. These are greatly reduced in cranberry juice. These compounds are flavanol polyphenols and other phytochemicals and they include:
- Myricetin: This antioxidant has been shown to have not only anti-inflammatory properties but also antioxidative, anticarcinogenic, and antimutant. It is beneficial in heart disease and diabetes mellitus.
- Quercetin: Cranberries are the main source of this antioxidant polyphenol. Its potential benefits include reducing inflammations, easing allergic reactions, anticarcinogenic properties, and lowering blood pressure.
- Peonidin: This compound plus cyanidin is what gives cranberries their red color. It promotes brain health and can lower the risks of lung and breast cancer.
- Condensed tannins: Also referred to as A-type pro-anthocyanins. This compound has anti-adhesion and anti-oxidative properties. It scavenges free radicals, lowers heart disease risk, and lowers serum uric acid levels.
- Vitamin E: This is a fat-soluble vitamin that doubles as an antioxidant.
Improves Oral Health
Going back to the compound proanthocyanins, which can reduce bacterial activity lowering the risk of developing gum disease and other oral-related issues. Cranberry compounds are considered potential anti-caries agents attributing to the potential benefits of dried cranberry in oral health.
One or two dried cranberries can go a long way in promoting your oral hygiene.
Helicobacter pylori bacterium can cause infections that are considered the major cause of stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. The good news is some compounds in craisins like A-type proanthocyanins prevent attacks of this bacteria to your stomach lining lowering your risk of stomach cancer.
Oral consumption of cranberry juice has been shown to be effective in the treatment of H. pylori. This study showed that consuming cranberry juice daily for 3 weeks suppressed the growth of H. pylori in those infected with the bacteria by 17%. This translates to a 17% lower risk of stomach cancer.
Promotes Heart Health
Cranberries help lower your blood pressure and improve your lipid profile which ensures you are heart healthy. To improve heart health, consume good sources of fiber that’ll lower your bad cholesterol levels.
Good for the Gut
The phytonutrients in cranberries also possess anti-microbial properties which ensures only probiotics survive in your gut.
One of the cranberry benefits is what put it on the map. Research done to assess the benefits of cranberries show it promotes urinary tract health.
Dried Cranberry Benefits Female
People, mostly women, go on and on about the beneficial health effects of dried cranberries. Although, one particular benefit usually stands out for the female gender: reduced risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
UTIs are mainly caused by Escherichia coli which attaches itself to the bladder and urinary tract walls. The beneficial compounds in cranberry make this fruit a good preventive measure against UTIs. Condensed tannins (again) prevent E. coli infection. They stop this bacteria from attaching to the lining of your bladder and urinary tract.
Several studies have been done to investigate the beneficial health effects of cranberry intake on urinary tract health. One review showed that cranberry products were more effective in reducing the incidence of UTIs in women with recurrent UTIs than in elderly men and women.
Another study on young girls showed that the consumption of concentrated cranberry juice can be beneficial in preventing the recurrence of symptomatic UTIs in children.
Besides bladder health, cranberry products can be good for your skin because it is a good source of beneficial vitamins and plant nutrients. One of the beneficial vitamins is vitamin C, which promotes collagen production and improves skin elasticity, further reducing signs of aging.
You know the benefits of craisins, but what are the disadvantages of consuming them?
Side Effects of Dried Raisins
Is dried cranberry good for you? To some point no, because of the following negative effects:
Consuming dried cranberries or other cranberry products can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upsets.
Kidney stones are made of calcium oxalates, so excess levels of oxalate in your urine put you at risk of developing kidney stones. Concentrated cranberry extracts contain high levels of oxalates which means excessive consumption of these products can cause kidney stones.
If you have other risk factors that make you susceptible to nephrolithiasis, it is wise to limit your consumption of dried cranberries.
Speak to your doctor before introducing cranberry juice when on anticoagulant medications. Cranberry has been shown to interact with blood thinners like warfarin. This fruit is a good source of vitamin K which thickens your blood. This will reduce the effectiveness of your medication.
Do Dried Cranberries Affect Blood Sugar?
Is dried cranberry good for you? Not when you struggle with hyperglycemia. Dried cranberries have a high glycemic index and load which means they can cause blood sugar spikes. Some varieties of craisins come with added sugar which means their intake will impact your blood glucose and insulin levels. If you struggle with hyperglycemia, it is best to keep off these and any other dried fruits.
Which is Healthier Raisins or Dried Cranberries?
Each of these has its own nutritional value and health benefits. Raisins are believed to be healthier than craisins because they do not come with added sugar. In addition, raisins are lower in carbs, calories and have more fiber and iron than craisins.
According to the USDA, one cup of raisins contains 478 kcals, 127 g of total carbs, 7.2 grams of fiber, 119.8 grams of net carbs, and 104 grams of sugar. They have a glycemic index of 49-64 and a glycemic load of 51.5. Either way, both dried fruits can spike your insulin and blood glucose levels and are best avoided.
Is dried cranberry good for you? There’s the good and bad to consuming dried cranberries. Although, their being too high in added sugars does not make them the healthiest food choice. Because of this, they are best avoided so you don’t experience sudden rises in your blood sugar levels.
If you must have some, 1/4 cup serving is more than enough. Go for the unsweetened kind. You’re better off making your craisins than buying them at the store. But, if you do purchase them, ensure you read your labels to see which added ingredients they contain.
Which fruits do you use in place of dried cranberries in your recipes? Go ahead and share with us!