Raisins are indispensable when it comes to dry fruits. Those golden or black colored delicacies are favorites of almost everybody, especially children. Raisins are used worldwide in cuisines (especially in desserts), health tonics, as snacks and also as food for mountaineers, trekkers etc. But, you don't have to be a backpacker or hiker to appreciate raisins as a convenient, high energy low fat snack; they are easy to pack, easy to eat and almost never go bad. Plus, they are available throughout the year.
Raisins are obtained by drying grapes (green or black), either in sun or in driers, and look like golden or black gems. Indeed they are like gems when their nutritional values and health benefits are considered. Some benefits include:
- Constipation: When ingested, raisins swell as the fiber present in them in dried form absorbs water. This gives relief when dealing with constipation.
- Weight Gain: Raisins, like all dry fruits, are very good for gaining weight, as they are full of fructose and glucose and give a lot of energy. Thus, they form an ideal part of the diet for either athletes or body builders who need a lot of energy or those who want to put on weight, without accumulating cholesterol. This is further boosted due to presence of many vitamins, amino acids and minerals (such as selenium, phosphorus etc.) in raisins which facilitate absorption of other nutrients and proteins in the body.
- Acidosis: Acidosis is a state of increased acidity of the blood (also known as toxicity of the blood) or of the gases in our respiratory system, the source of acids for both being our stomach. This is very harmful for the body as it may give rise to a number of problems like boils, skin diseases and damage to the internal organs, arthritis, gout, renal calculi, hair loss, heart diseases, tumors and even cancer. Raisins are good source of potassium and magnesium (two of the most popular constituents of antacids, being basic in nature) both of which are very effective in reducing acidity. They neutralize the acids and thus help check acidosis.
- Anemia: Raisins contain considerable amount of iron which directly helps treating anemia. It also contains many members of vitamin-B complex which are essential for formation of blood. The copper in them also helps in the formation of red blood cells.
- Bone Health: While Calcium, which is the main constituent of bones, is present in raisins, it is one of the best sources of Boron, a micro nutrient (a nutrient required by the body in very small amount as compared to other nutrients) which is very necessary for proper bone formation and absorption of calcium. Boron is particularly helpful in preventing osteoporosis induced by menopause in women and is very beneficial for bones and joints.
- Eye Care: Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients which have anti oxidant properties which are very good for ocular health, as they protect eyes from damages caused by free radicals (oxidants), such as macular degeneration, age related weakening of vision, cataract etc. In addition, it contains very good amount of vitamin-A, A-Beta Carotene and A-Carotenoid, all of which are essential for a good ocular health.
- Dental Care: Oleanolic Acid, one of the phytochemicals present in raisins, plays crucial role in protecting your teeth against tooth decay, cavities, brittleness of teeth etc. It effectively prevents two of the species of bacteria which are most responsible for cavities and other dental problems. In addition, it is rich in calcium which is very good for promoting dental health, as it prevents breaking or peeling away of teeth and enamel and makes them strong. One more interesting thing about raisins is that the longer they stick to your teeth, the better, as it ensures longer contact of Oleanolic Acid with the teeth preventing growth of bacteria. In addition to above, boron present in raisins plays a very important role in checking growth of germs in the mouth as well promotes healthy bones and teeth.
- Another health benefit of raisins is that they are an antioxidant. These help keep the blood clean and flowing. They get rid of all unclean impurities in the blood.
Storing raisins in the refrigerator in an airtight container will extend their freshness and prevent them from becoming dried out. If you purchase raisins in single serving boxes and do not want to transfer them to another container, store the boxes in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life. Raisins will be the most fresh if consumed within six months.