Tanya's Tasty Tips: How Healthy Is Dried Fruit?

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Q:Is it OK to eat dried fruit if you are trying to watch your weight?

A:When you want something sweet, dried fruit is a great option because its sweetness rivals candy and doesn't contain any fat.And unlike fresh fruit that spoils if you don't eat it within a few days, dried fruit can be kept in your desk drawer or kitchen cabinets for weeks.But be careful with portion size - although dried fruit is chockfull of vitamins and fiber, it also packs as much as four times the sugar and calories per ounce as its fresh counterparts.

Choose dried fruits that are 100 percent natural with no sugars added and limit dried fruits that are sweetened with fruit juice and other sugars, which add excess calories. Dried apples, figs, raisins, apricots and prunes often contain no added sugar. Dried cranberries, dried pineapple and dried mango are among the dried fruit that are often processed with sugar or fruit juice to increase sweetness.

The best way to determine if sugar has been added is to look at the label and ingredient list. Avoid words like "naturally sweetened," and any fruits where sugar or fruit juice are among the first three ingredients listed on the ingredient list.

If you are watching your waistline, stay away from banana chips, even those that are labeled "natural." Most banana chips are fried in coconut oil and contain enough fat to sink a battleship.