- Created on Friday, 13 November 2009 13:23
I don't really have raisins in every meal, but I do include them in many. Why? Not only are they very nutritious - providing vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and iron, phytochemicals (antioxidants), tartaric acid, and dietary fiber, both insoluble and soluble- but they also help your teeth. Yes, those sticky sweet gems actually help protect your teeth and gums! Christine Wu, of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, said in a press release, that the "Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease." Laboratory tests showed that phytochemicals slowed or stopped the growth of two different types of bacteria commonly found in the mouth -- Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes gum disease -- and prevented cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to surfaces.
Raisins are rich in potassium while low in sodium (3 oz contains 646 mg potassium and 10 mg sodium). This is a perfect food for those of you with high blood pressure.
Raisins are also one of the top sources of the trace mineral, boron, in the U.S. diet. Boron is a mineral that is critical to our health, and has been of special interest in women like me who are dealing with bone health and osteoporosis. Boron is a trace mineral required to convert estrogen and vitamin D to their most active forms (17-beta-estradiol and 1,25-(OH)2D3 respectively). Estrogen levels drop after menopause causing osteoclasts to become more sensitive to parathyroid hormone, which signals them to break down bone. Studies have shown that boron provides protection against osteoporosis and reproduces many of the positive effects of estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women.
One study suggests that the addition of a reasonable quantity of sun-dried raisins, 3 ounces per day, helps prevent constipation and possibly protect against some colonic diseases. Another interesting finding was that sun-dried raisins altered the concentration and ratios of bile acids in the colon in a way that, according to some research, could help prevent colorectal cancer.
Another study suggests that foods rich in antioxidants, such as sun-dried raisins, when used as a source of energy before and during intense athletic activity, can protect the body from DNA damage due to oxidative stress.
Only negative I can find about raisins is that sulfur-containing compounds are often added as preservatives to help prevent oxidation and bleaching of colors. The sulfites used to help preserve dried raisins cause adverse reactions in an estimated one out of every 100 people, who turn out to be sulfite sensitive. Sulfite reactions can be particularly acute in people who suffer from asthma. The Federal Food and Drug Administration estimates that 5 percent of asthmatics may suffer a reaction when exposed to sulfites. Federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically grown or produced foods.
So now you know why I include raisins in many of my meals AND only buy organic raisins.
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