One article from my old website that I chose not to rewrite for this new website was titled “I eat these daily”. It was all about raisins and how good they are for you. So why didn’t I rewrite that article? Are they NOT good for you? That last question came to my mind when I discovered that the resources behind the links in the article were no longer there. In particular, the World’s Healthiest Foods website apparently deleted the article. In fact I discovered that if I did a search for raisins on the World’s Healthiest Foods, absolutely nothing came up. Not a recipe. Not that raisins were bad for you. Just nothing. So I thought maybe dried fruits in general were now considered not to be the healthiest. Doing a search on dried fruits on the Worlds’s Healthiest Foods web site did not present any article specifically on the subject of dried fruits. So why was it removed?
Doing a web search of the pros and cons of raisins brought a consistent but unsatisfying answer. Going through 15 articles I looked for those that were most recent. Surprisingly many articles were not dated. Those that were dated 2015 or later pretty much stated the same thing. Only the number of benefits described varied. And were any cons stated? Some mentioned the negative I had given in my article that (and I quote myself here) 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 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% of asthmatics may suffer a reaction when exposed to sulfites. Federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically grown or produced food. So as I explained in my article, I only eat organic raisins.
One article, written by a doctor, referenced the negative consequences of sugar in raisins, claiming they cause cavities. Hmmm… Guess he had not heard about the research I had referenced in my 2009 article. (I again quote myself) 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 Porphromonas gingivalis, which causes gum disease – and prevented cavity causing bacteria from sticking to surfaces.
Finally, the only other negative I could find in the articles was the fact described in three articles that raisins will help you gain weight – one actually considered this a benefit, the other two did not.
Let’s look closer at that potentially negative attribute of raisins, that of being an aid to gaining weight. Even though both authors of the two articles acknowledged the healthy benefits of raisins (dense source of energy, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and other phytonutrients), the “disadvantage” of aid in gaining weight negated these benefits. In both cases they referred to society’s overweight population, one referenced their own difficulties in controlling their weight and the other – a doctor- emphasized the medical effects of sugar and long term risk of weight gain. Anything that aided weight gain was therefore placed in the same category as unhealthy regardless how nutritious it might be, and therefore it should be avoided. (They didn’t say that explicitly, but it is the only conclusion one can derive from their explanation.)
The one author that considered it a benefit for raisins to aid in gaining weight referenced the “if desperately trying to gain weight”. Makes me think of the sick, malnutritioned children and elderly who desperately need help in gaining HEALTHY weight. And I found one article that was only about how raisins help you LOSE weight!
And I would argue that with all today’s choices of unhealthy snacks so easily available, a nutritious snack of raisins would be the wiser choice for something easily available, relatively inexpensive, and sweet. So why the World’s Healthiest Foods removed raisins from their list is still a mystery to me.