Nutrition experts often disagree on many topics, but there are things that almost everyone agrees. Dried fruit, for example, is one of the foods unanimously recognized as healthy. But is it also useful in sports?
The Mediterranean diet has many supporters and even in the scientific world, hardly anyone refutes its validity. An essential characteristic of the Mediterranean diet is the fat content, equal to about 40-45% of the total energy, therefore well above the recommended intake, which is about 30%, but this does not seem to bother even the more radical enemies of fats. The high-fat content comes mainly from olive oil, but dried fruit also contributes to it. Medical research became interested in the Mediterranean diet about 30 years ago. In the same period, research on the importance of dried fruit in the context of health also intensified.
The results obtained so far are very positive, excluding allergic reactions to dried fruit, which affect between 1% and 10% of the population. There are currently a good dozen long-term studies with around 350,000 participants on the relationship between regular dried fruit consumption and health and the result is clear: those who eat a handful of dried fruit a day have a 40% lower risk of suffering from fatal cardiovascular disease. Such a large reduction in risk is considered significant.
SMALL NUTRIENT BOMBS
Simply put, dried fruit is a real energy and fat bomb (the fat content varies from 50 to 75 grams per 100 grams, depending on the type of dried fruit). Those who think only of calories will prefer not to include it in their diet for fear that it will make you fat, yet regular consumption of nuts does not normally lead to weight gain. It is believed that this is probably due to the increase in the sense of satiety during the meal and the reduction in appetite after consumption.
Dried fruit is one of many examples that counting only calories is often useless and the fear of fatty foods is also unfounded. Despite the high-fat content, dried fruit carries a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Although the cause is not yet fully understood, it is believed that this is due to the high content of secondary plant substances, other fat-soluble bioactive substances, and dietary fibers. The content of these substances varies according to the type of dried fruit, but it is impossible to draw up a ranking. We simply do not yet know which of these substances acts and what effect it has and whether a certain combination of substances is needed to obtain the desired effect.
ALSO USEFUL FOR ATHLETES
Anyone who is not allergic to nuts can therefore integrate it into their diet and feel comfortable. In principle, this also applies to sport. If you sweat a lot and therefore lose more salt, you can also opt for the salty versions. Those who have difficulty eating enough, and therefore have a lower than average energy intake, are advised not to consume dried fruit as a snack, as eating could be even more difficult due to the satiety effect.
Dried fruit should be consumed in its natural form, whole or chopped if possible just before eating, if the preparation requires it. In dried fruit already cut or even grated, fats can oxidize more quickly making it rancid, and even vegetable substances can be damaged. Whole dried fruit has an excellent shelf life, even better if kept cool. Using the refrigerator to store it is therefore not a bad idea. The recommended amount is a handful per day, which is approximately 25 grams. Dried fruit is extremely versatile, you can add it to muesli, dress salads, or eat it as a snack when you are away from home: it adapts to almost anything!