Something is needed more than water, time and sun to transform juicy and plump grapes into sweet and chewy raisins. That does not mean that there could be people from ancient Rome taking them by handfuls, where dried fruits were used to pay taxes, to reward the best athletes and to "cure" old age. Although raisins are much cheaper and easier to obtain today, you must still be wise to enjoy them as the Romans did, in moderation.
It takes more than 4 pounds of fresh grapes to produce one pound of raisins, according to the book "Wellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers." Fresh fruit loses approximately 80 percent of its water during the drying process, which is why the raisins are much smaller and much more nutritious than grapes. One cup of grapes equals more than 100 calories, which is the standard size of the individual portion of most fresh fruits. Since the grapes are almost four times larger than the raisins, it is normal that 1/4 cup of raisins, the amount of a dry fruit serving, equals more than 100 calories as well.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, a package of a 1/4 cup serving of seedless raisins or approximately 70 raisins has about 108 calories, 1 gram of protein, 29 grams of carbohydrates and very little fat. It also provides 1, 4 grams of fiber or 6 percent of the recommended daily value. Since raisins contain proportional amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, they help stabilize normal cholesterol levels and intestinal function. A serving of raisins also provides 8 and 4 percent of the recommended daily values of potassium and iron, respectively. Potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium and iron keeps your cells oxygenated, both minerals are necessary for the normal contraction of muscles.
No bitter raisins
Raisins are the perfect example of why dry fruit is often called "natural candy," almost 80 percent of its calories come from simple sugars, according to the USDA. Even though this makes them a good source of quick energy, this also means that they are delicious and very tempting enough. It is easy to eat two or more servings of raisins in one sitting, especially if you do not know how much is in a 1/4 cup serving. With 1/2 cup of packaged raisins you get almost 3 grams of fiber and 16 percent of the daily potassium values and also around 215 calories, almost 60 grams of carbohydrates, which are simple sugars.
Eating lots of raisins affects your blood sugar levels in two ways. Although fiber slows the process in some way, simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels in general faster than complex carbohydrates, which are found in vegetables and whole grains. What determines how high your blood sugar levels are is the amount you consume in total, which is why in a large portion there is a greater effect of the sugar in your blood than in a small portion. People with diabetes lower their high sugar levels by consuming fruits in portions that do not contain more than 15 grams of carbohydrates. If you have diabetes or are resistant to insulin, then the portion of raisins you consume should be about half of a normal serving or only 2 teaspoons.