It’s no secret that fruits are nutrient-dense, providing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are majorly beneficial in the long run. According to the USDA, it’s a good idea to eat two to two and a half cups of fruit every day to reap maximum benefits. However, not all fruits are created equal. Consumers can choose from varied options at the supermarket, such as fresh fruit, frozen options, freeze-dried fruit, and more.
For those who aren’t familiar, freeze-drying fruit is a two-part process that “involves first freezing a fruit and then placing it in a vacuum under very low pressures,” per The Conversation. The goal is to lower the fruit’s water content without damaging its structure. Freeze-dried fruit is often believed to be a better option when compared with consuming candied fruit and even dried fruit.
So, is freeze-dried fruit as healthy as fresh fruit? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t that simple.
Freeze-dried fruit can be a great option — just be sure to shop wisely. Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN of Bucket List Tummy and owner of Nutrition for Running tells Mashed that it’s crucial to study the nutrition label before buying a product to see if it has added sugar. She advises checking ingredient lists for honey, syrup, cane sugar, and words that end in “-ose.”
“Freeze-drying fruit does dehydrate the fruit (resulting in less moisture) [to] make the natural sugars more concentrated, but it can also result in a more nutrient-dense product since freeze-drying fruit is harvested in season and immediately freeze-dried,” Schlichter explains. “While eating a whole apple will provide ample phytonutrients, fiber, and Vitamin C, freeze-dried fruits will have these nutrients in a smaller, more concentrated serving size.” In short, you’ll still get a nutrient-dense snack — but you might want to eat less of it than you would with fresh fruit.
As Schlichter explains, freeze-dried fruit is also a good alternative for those who lack access to fresh fruit and need to look for other options. “Relying on freeze-dried fruit or frozen fruit is an excellent alternative that will provide similar nutrient benefits and a longer shelf life,” she says.