Improve digestion, Lower blood pressure, Keep blood healthy

Raisins may not be much to look at, but they do have quite a history. Prehistoric cave dwellers attributed religious powers to them. They made raisin necklaces and decorations and drew pictures of raisins on cave walls. As early as 1000 B.C., the Israelites used them to pay taxes!

These days raisins occupy a much humbler place in society, but they just as useful as ever. Backpackers and hikers appreciate raisins for being high-energy, low-fat, very convenient snack. They fit easily in a lunch box, they almost never go bad, even if they’re in a pantry for a long time.

Raisins offer more than just convenience. Recent studies suggest that they can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and even play a role in keeping digestion and blood healthy.

If you have high blood pressure – or even if you don’t, but you want to make sure your pressure stays in a healthy range- raisins are one of the best snacks you can buy. They are good source of potassium, a mineral that has been shown to lower high blood pressure.

In one study, researchers at John Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore gave men either potassium supplements or blank pills. Those who were given potassium saw their systolic pressure (the higher number) drop 7 points, while their diastolic pressure went down 3 points. Just ¼ cup of raisins contains 272 milligrams of potassium, 10% of the Daily Value. The researchers concluded that people, especially over the age of 40, ought to be consuming a fair amount of foods, such as raisins that contain high levels of potassium.

When we think of iron-rich foods, things such as red meat and liver usually come to mind. But raisins may be a better source of iron, particularly for people who eat little or no meat. Iron is essential for the creation of hemoglobin in red blood cells, which the body uses to transport oxygen. A quarter-cup of raisins has 0.8 milligram of iron, which is more than 8% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men and 5% of the RDA for women.

Like other dried fruits, raisins also a good source of dietary fiber, with nearly 2 grams of fiber in ¼ cup. Not only does fiber play role in helping to prevent everyday problems such as constipation but its also lowers cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Few years ago, researchers at the Health Research and Studies Centre in Los Altos, California, asked people with high cholesterol levels to eat 3 ounces of raisins (a little more than a half-cup) a day as part of a high-fiber, low-fat diet. After a month, the participant’s total cholesterol dropped an average of more than 8 percent, while their harmful low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels dropped 15%.

There is very little nutritional difference between black and golden raisins. The black variety has more thiamin, while the golden seedless type has a bit more vitamin B6. The main difference between them is the way they are dried.

Black, or sun-dried raisins are actually dried in the sun. This is what gives them their dark, shriveled look.

Golden seedless raisins are dried by exposing them to the fumes of burning sulfur in a closed chamber, which gives them their golden hue. In mid-1980’s researchers discovered that some people are sensitive to sulfites compounds and can get an allergic-type reactions when exposed to them If you are sulfite-sensitive, you should stay clear of golden seedless raisins and favor sun-dried varieties.

Raisins contain a type of iron called nonheme iron, which is harder for the body to absorb than the heme iron found in meats. Eating raisins along with foods high in vitamin C, however, will help improve absorption of nonheme iron.

To get the most raisins in your diet, it is often recommended buying snack-size packs. Due to their small size and the fact that raisins almost never go bad, they’re perfect for keeping them in your purse, glove compartment, or desk drawer and eating whenever you are in the mood for a quick snack.


cindy kelly said...

Hi there,
Great post....I never knew there was so much to know about raisins!
I just started a nutrition based community blog over at www.foodspark.com
I really like your blog and would love you to come by and check mine out. Feel free to post there as well!

Gale said...

Very useful site! Keep up the good work!

Sen said...

This is a lot of information. Great article.
I knew that raisins are useful for arthritis(

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