Is there a difference between nuts and dried fruit?

Is there a difference between nuts and dried fruit?

Nuts and dried fruit have completely different origins, characteristics and nutritional values.

Both are easily transportable, easy to store and preserve, and provide useful nutrients for our health. But while dried fruit is nothing other than fresh fruit with water content removed (and therefore is rich in sugars), nuts are the “kernels” of different plants that have similar nutritional characteristics.

In general, a nut is defined as a 'fruit’, but one which is composed of a hard, tough shell to protect the actual kernel, which is usually edible. The most common nuts are walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and pine nuts. These should be added to the more 'exotic' nuts such as cashews, Brazil nuts, pecan nuts and macadamia nuts. Peanuts are also often included under the nuts category, even though they actually belong to the legume family. In general, 'nuts' are good protein sources and have a high-fat content, particularly unsaturated omega-6 and omega-3 fats (the so-called 'good fats'). They are also an excellent source of vitamins (B1, B2, B6, E and A) as well as minerals (phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc and potassium), phytosterols, which together with polyunsaturated fats contribute to the maintenance of normal cholesterol levels in the blood, and a large number of compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action.

The traditional dried fruit or dehydrated fruit or sugar-rich fruit, however, are nothing but fresh fruit (apples, figs, apricots, plums, mango, pineapple, papaya, raisins, red fruits, banana, pitaya, etc.) from which the water has been almost completely removed. Drying is one of the oldest methods of preservation in the world: it was once done by exposing the fruit cut into pieces in the sun while it is now done on an industrial level with more modern techniques in a more precise and standardized way. Despite being a very useful preservation method, drying causes some changes from a nutritional point of view: in addition to the concentration of nutrients which, for the same weight, are much more concentrated than the fresh counterpart (including sugars), some more perishable nutrients like vitamin C tend to degrade during the process. As with fresh fruit, also dried fruit contains different nutrients at different concentrations depending on the type of fruit: in general, all dried fruit is an excellent source of fibre, and for example dried mango is a useful source of fiber, pineapple contains good concentrations of manganese, raisins and apricots provide potassium, bananas in addition to potassium are also a good source of vitamin B6, etc. By contrast, the category ‘sugary dried fruits’ includes goji berries and cranberries that possess a very high concentration of antioxidants such as polyphenols and anthocyanins. The sugary dried fruit category includes ginger even though it's a root. It's usually sold in sweetened form as balsamic candy, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, but also as a digestive and anti-nausea remedy.

Below is a comparison between the nutritional tables of shelled almonds (nuts) and natural apricots (dried fruit) from the Nuturally.

Nutrition facts 100 g Shelled almonds Natural apricots
Energy 2519 kJ / 610 kcal 1234 kJ / 291 kcal
Fats 52.7 g 0.5 g
Of which saturates 4.1 g 0 g
Carbohydrate 2.2 g 65 g
Of which sugars 2.0 g 34 g
Fibre 11.4 g 7.4 g
Protein 25.9 g 3.0 g
Salt 0.09 g 0.01 g

As you can see, the quantity of fats, mainly unsaturated fatty acids, is clearly higher in almonds than in apricots and the higher it is, the higher the energy value (kcal). In fact, fats provide much more energy than carbohydrates - and are used as an alternative source of energy. Conversely, dried fruit have a carbohydrate and sugar content much higher than that of nuts and thus provide the energy that is utilized far more quickly (glucose is our body's main fuel source and complex carbohydrates can be quickly broken down into glucose). Protein content is higher in almonds. Fibre is a fairly important component in both products, although the quantity is higher in shelled almonds and probably depends on the fact that they still have the outer skin. Salt content, on the other hand, is lower in dried fruit; in fact, just like fresh fruit, dried fruit also has a low sodium content.

Obviously, this comparison is only one example. Each type of nuts and dried fruit has its own specific characteristics and nutritional values, but in principle it provides a good indication of what the main differences between the two types of products are.

Both nuts and dried fruit have nutritional characteristics that make them excellent aids in a healthy diet and are important foods to be included in your daily diet.

Nuturally, the online shop of natural nuts and dried fruit, aims to help people follow a healthy lifestyle that's closer to nature through the consumption of traditional nuts and dried fruit and by promoting a culture of physical and spiritual well-being.


Euro Company Analysis Data for Nuturally

Aksoy et al.; Traditional Dried Fruits: Valuable Tools to Meet Dietary Recommendations for Fruit Intake

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