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Friday, August 26, 2011

What's This About Raisins?

A few years back, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Poison Control Center posted an alert for pet owners that raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.

It was never determined what the toxic element in raisins was that was responsible for these dog deaths. However, it raises the question as to whether or not raisins are good or bad for humans.

Some say that raisins are too high in sugar to be considered healthy for human consumption. About a half a cup of raisins has 59 grams of sugar. The sugar in raisins is fructose, an organic sugar that is present in all fruits.

If you are a backpacker, you understand the value of having a natural, energy boost handy like raisins. A Snicker bar will do the same thing, but the sugar in candy will give you a quick boost of energy, only to drop even lower after an hour or so. The natural fructose in raisins and other fruits burn slower in your body and last much longer.

In that same half a cup of raisins, there are 4 grams of fiber. We all know the benefit of fiber in our diets as an aid in proper digestion and elimination. Fiber rich diets also improve cholesterol levels and help control weight. The recommended amount of fiber for adults according to most experts is between 25 and 35 grams of fiber per day.

So, that little half a cup of raisins contributes about one sixth of all the fiber you need in a day. Raisins also contain tartaric acid, which works with your liver and colon to strengthen them and aid in digestion, partly due to its mild laxative effect. It has also been discovered that tartaric acid is good for asthma as it causes the lungs to dialate inducing a cough response.

Raisins are one of the few fruits that contain tartaric acid besides apples and grapes and it is also present in wine. Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad. 500 grams of tartaric acid is considered a lethal dose for the average person. That half of cup of raisins has about 3 grams of tartaric acid.

Raisins also contain 750 mg. of Potassium and only 11 mg. of Sodium. This is a very healthy equation for heart health. Experts agree that diets rich in Potassium and low in Sodium help maintain normal blood pressure. In addition, the phenolic compounds in raisins are powerful antioxidants towards preventing heart disease and cancer.

Over the years, raisins have been referred to as "nature's candy" and for good reason as you can see.

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