Put the dried cranberries down and back slowly—no, quickly—away from the trail mix. It turns out that eating chewy, gooey dried fruit isn’t the healthy snack you think it is. (Which is a damn shame considering its availability on road trips, at airports, and in the work vending machine…)
Most dried fruits are double, and sometimes even triple, the sugar content of fresh fruit, say wellness experts and nutritionists, like Ariane Hundt. “We’re talking 70 grams of sugar per serving,” says the founder of Slim and Strong, a fitness and food advice program, and Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp. And sugar, in case you hadn’t heard, is pretty much the devil.
Here are five facts you need to know about dried fruit—and why you should probably just eat an apple (ooh, with peanut butter) instead.
The sugar in fruit makes you fat fast
It’s called fructose and it can create all kinds of havoc on your health, says Hundt. Excess fructose gets quickly converted by the liver into VLDL, a form of cholesterol that’s high in triglycerides, which leads to fat storage. It’s also the type of sugar that creates insulin resistance, heart disease, obesity, and more.
Dried fruit has way more sugar than fresh fruit
“Most people should limit their daily fruit intake to 30 grams of carbs [of sugar] per day, which is about one banana, one apple, or two cups of berries,” Hundt says. And that’s a lot less than what’s in the typical serving of dried fruit. One cup of fresh cranberries contains 4 grams of sugar and one cup of dried cranberries contains a whopping 70 grams.
Your brain doesn’t know how to say no to dried fruit
It’s easy to eat a ton of dried fruit, because fructose doesn’t signal to your brain when you’re full. “It doesn’t suppress ghrelin or stimulate leptin after you eat,” she explains. (Ghrelin makes you hungry and leptin stops hunger.)” Now it might make sense why you still feel hungry after inhaling a bag of trail mix.
It contributes to toxicity
“When the body breaks down fructose [in dried fruit or in any source], it produces a lot more waste products and toxins, and increases blood pressure more so than other carbs,” she explains.
You’re better off eating candy
You’re better off eating candy than dried fruit, if you’re looking at the sugar content—one bag of M&Ms or a Milky Way bar has 30 grams of sugar, which is less than what’s in about a cup of dried papaya or figs. The takeaway: Eat your fruit fresh, and save the dried stuff for special occasions.
Even if you’re eating fresh fruit, it’s good to be aware of the sugar content. Enter: the fruit pyramid. And if you’re now in need of some new snack ideas since trail mix is out, here’s what in-demand fitness trainers eat.