Nutritional/Dietary Considerations of Dehydrated Food

~Learn how dehydration affects nutrition in your foods~

Nutrients: Although the drying process is a good way to keep many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A and iron, some nutrients can be stripped from dehydrated foods. Vitamin C is almost completely destroyed in the process. In addition, the B-vitamin and mineral content of vegetables is greatly reduced by drying and blanching. To avoid losing these nutrients, simply use the water from the blanching process in other dishes.

During the dehydration process, some nutrients such as vitamin C, the B vitamins thiamine and folate and vitamin A become unstable, resulting in decreased amounts. For example, a cup of fresh apple provides 5.8 milligrams of vitamin C and 4 micrograms of folate, while 1/4 cup of dried apple (30 grams) has only .8 milligrams of vitamin C and no folate. Sometimes commercial food processors add sulfur to dried fruit to keep it from turning brown, which also helps to keep up more of the vitamin C and vitamin A contents. However, adding sulfur almost completely destroys thiamine.

Fiber: The fiber content of fruits remains the same after dehydration. Take this into consideration when choosing what to preserve and make sure you drink plenty of water or other liquids when snacking on dehydrated foods..

Calories: Dehydrated fruits and vegetables have the same calories after dehydration as they do fresh. One plum, dried into a prune, will have the same calories and carbs. When comparing dried and fresh fruit, it’s best to use standard serving sizes, which are a 1/4 cup (30 grams) of dried fruit and 1 cup (120 grams) of fresh fruit.

Dried fruit and fresh fruit contain almost the same amount of calories and sugar per serving. For example, in one serving of dried apple, which is 1/4 cup (30 grams), there are 52 calories and 12 grams of sugar, and in a serving of fresh apple, which is 1 cup (120 grams), there are 65 calories and 13 grams of sugar. However, if you are trying to lose weight, a serving of fresh fruit offers more volume and has more water than dried fruit, which will help you to feel full sooner and longer.

Raw Food Diets: The raw food diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These four main food groups are great because they are essentially the revitalizers and immune system builders of the body. And anyone can benefit from more fruits vegetables in their diet. Most dehydrators come with a temperature setting, and as long as you are dehydrating at temperatures below 112-118°F (44-47°C) you’ll be keeping your ingredients “raw”.

Pretreatment can help. Blanching will decrease the loss of thiamine and vitamins A and C due to dehydration, as blanching inactivates the enzymes that increase their loss. Steam-blanching reduces nutrient losses more than blanching in water. Dipping fruits or vegetables in pineapple, orange or lemon juice before dehydrating can help them support higher levels of vitamin C throughout the dehydration process, and helps prevent them from turning brown. To learn how to pretreat your produce, click here.

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