The paleo diet has grown in popularity over recent years. It typically includes fish, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. In other words, foods that could be found through hunting and gathering.
This diet limits foods that became common after farming emerged around 10,000 years ago. Such foods include dairy products, legumes, and grains.
As with any diet, sticking to paleo can be a little tricky. But, perhaps the most difficult aspect of this diet is finding goods that are right.
For instance, we know grapes and fruits are paleo but are raisins considered paleo as well? Because they are dried, does this mean raisins can not be part of a paleo diet? Other questions arise too like, can I eat just a few raisins or should they be avoided completely?
Then there is the sweetness that raisins possess. This sweet flavor comes from sugar but surely paleo and sugar don’t mix, right? Well, we wanted to find out!!
Continue reading to discover whether raisins are paleo-friendly or if they should be avoided completely.
What are raisins?
Raisins are simply dried grapes. These grapes are typically left in the sun to dry or dehydrated. This helps the water in the fruit evaporate. The remaining grape contains sugar and fiber but without any water.
In the United States, raisins without seeds are referred to as Thompson Seeds but they are also known as sultana raisins in other regions throughout the world.
Some countries use the term sultana to refer to golden raisins. These are raisins that have been treated with sulfur dioxide to produce a golden color.
This sulfite is regularly used as a preservative in dried apricots and prunes. It is also an allergen that has been known to cause asthma as well as other potential health problems in people.
Is it okay to eat raisins on a paleo diet?
Whether you’re on the paleo diet or not, you need to get your sweet fix from somewhere. However, this can be pretty hard when you start paleo. But, the good news is that, in general, raisins are considered paleo-friendly.
However, just because they can be included in a paleo diet doesn’t mean they can be eaten regularly. Due to their high sugar content, you should only eat raisins in moderation.
Raisins are effectively dehydrated or sun-dried grapes. Therefore, they carry the same sugar content as a grape but tend to be much easier to overeat. Sugar actually makes up approximately 72% of a raisin’s weight but, unlike other dried fruits, they are not generally loaded with added sugars.
These little fruits also have a healthy blend of vitamins and minerals including manganese, potassium, thiamin, copper, and B6.
While raisins are generally a healthy snack, just one binge of a packet or box may contain the same level of sugar content that you need for an entire day. Therefore, you will be loading on extra calories throughout the day without even knowing it.
Nonetheless, some of us are more tolerant of carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose than others. The best way to find out if you are intolerant to carbs is to simply listen to your body. This is especially important if you have cut sugar from your diet completely.
Paleo expert Mark Sisson states that “a few servings a week of dried fruits is not a big deal at all – fruit is a natural fiber-rich, vitamin-loaded food source.” So, in moderation, raisins can be that sugary goodness that you will undoubtedly crave at times on the paleo diet.
Fruit naturally contains sugar but these amounts are relatively small. When a fruit is dried, all of the water which concentrates the sugar within a smaller package is taken out.
Therefore, it becomes much easier to consume a large amount of sugar without even noticing it. This is especially frustrating when you believe you are eating something that is healthy.
Dried Fruits And Paleo
When it comes to the paleo diet, fruits should not be avoided. While they all contain small amounts of natural sugars, some more than others (apples), in moderation, this shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. But, natural sugar is still sugar so you must be careful.
When it comes to dried fruits, the issue is that you can consume a lot of sugar without intending to due to their decreased sizes. Take a small box of raisins for example. These boxes tend to hold dozens of raisins and it is almost impossible to just eat one (we dare you to try).
An average serving of raisins could see you eat up to 60 at a time. Now, imagine eating 60 grapes in one sitting. Because grapes contain water, they help prevent people from overeating. Raisins, on the other hand, do not.
1 cup of dried apples can contain up to 49 grams of sugar. That is the equivalent of 2 raw apples. 1 normal-sized box of raisins can contain 25 grams of sugar, the same as 90 grapes. Just because they are smaller doesn’t mean they are less sugary.
You must also be careful when eating store-bought fruits. While raisins are generally okay, other dried fruits are often jam-packed with additives and added sugars. Dried fruits also lose a great deal of fiber content meaning you will miss out on the majority of the fruit’s digestive benefits.
But, let’s get things clear. Dried fruits are not bad in the same way that honey and other paleo sweeteners are not “bad.” In small amounts, it can be good for your health but when you’re craving sweetness, over-snacking on dried fruits can lead to too much sugar intake.
All in all, raisins are considered paleo but only in small quantities. You should avoid using dried fruits as the basis of any meal. Just think of them as a small snack on occasions. A couple here and there will cause no harm but overeating, which is easy with raisins, should always be avoided to prevent too much sugar intake.