With Tu Bishvat nearing, think twice before eating dried fruit

Science and Health

As Tu Bishvat, the Jewish New Year for trees, approaches, markets are filled with the enticing aroma of dried fruits. Dr. Maya Roseman recently discussed the advantages and disadvantages of dried fruits on the radio station 103FM to help us make an informed choice between dried and fresh fruits.

Although Tu Bishvat has a reputation for being one of the healthier of Jewish holidays, seeing as it does not include indulging in treats such as sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts), hamentashen (triangular cookies), or white flour matzah, Dr. Roseman explained that dried fruits do not contain significant amounts of vitamin C, and often contain harmful preservatives, contrary to popular belief.

Additionally, they do not possess more iron than fresh fruits.

Dried fruits (credit: INGIMAGE)

Dr. Roseman’s insights into dried fruit on Tu Bishvat:

  1. Greater vitamin content: Fresh fruits have much more vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which is virtually nonexistent in dried fruits. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in preventing colds and seasonal illnesses. So, fresh fruits have a significant advantage.
  2. Iron and calcium misconceptions: The notion that dried fruits contain more iron and calcium is a myth. The iron and calcium content in one dried plum or fig is equal to that which can be found in its fresh counterpart. When evaluating the nutrient content per 100 gr., any significant differences occur solely due to the calculation method, which disregards the water loss during the drying process. Therefore, in reality, there is no nutritional discrepancy.
  3. Excess calories: Dried fruits, being concentrated and smaller in size, can lead to a higher consumption of these all at once, which results in an increased calorie and sugar intake. It is easier to consume higher quantities without realizing it. Tu Bishvat, ironically, could thereby turn out to be the holiday most high in calorie consumption.
  4. The crucial consideration: Many dried fruits, excluding organic options, contain chemicals such as sulfites, specifically iron sulfide, and other unnecessary preservatives or color enhancers. These chemicals can negatively impact our health, making it imperative to be cautious while consuming dried fruits.

The preferable choice therefore remains consuming fresh fruits, rather than dried ones. So, even during Tu Bishvat celebrations, it is important not to forget the overwhelming benefits that fresh fruits provide.