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UK seminar helps clarify role of dried fruit in public health

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      12 Jun 2018      NEWS

     by Julian Gale    @JulianFoodNews     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

A seminar entitled ‘Dried Fruit and Public Health: What does the evidence tell us?’ was recently hosted in London by the UK National Dried Fruit Trade Association (NDFTA), California Prune Board, Raisin Administrative Committee, Whitworths and Sun-Maid. Food To Fit managed the event on behalf of these sponsors.

 

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A key aim was to provide some clari cation on this subject and help redress the balance after earlier misleading media reports on the subject.

 

The event was promoted as: “A workshop for health care professionals, researchers, public health advisors and health media to explore the potential contribution of dried fruit to public health and establish priorities for further research”.

 

The workshop

 

NDFTA chairman Simon Melik (pictured below left) announced that he was “delighted” with the strong interest in the event, which was over-subscribed within one week of its being announced. “Today represents an excellent opportunity for the whole industry to hear from experts what potential research areas exist for furthering the contribution dried fruit could be making to health,” he declared.

 

 Melik explained that the UK accounts for 11% of total world imports and 50% of all European imports of dried fruit. The market value of those products to the UK is about GBP500 million (USD669 mln) and the volume into the UK is around 180,000 tonnes per year.

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“The advice for dried fruit is not necessarily consistent and as Simon (Melik) says, there are some mixed messages out there,” she remarked.

Lovegrove revealed that the NHS Choices website gives the cautionary note that “dried fruit can be high in sugar and can be bad for your teeth”. Moreover, it suggests: “Try to swap dried fruit for fresh fruit, especially between meals. To reduce the risk of tooth decay, dried fruit is best enjoyed as part of a meal, as dessert for example, not as a between meal snack.”

Another area of regular confusion is what constitutes a portion size. A rough rule of thumb is 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit or 30g of dried fruit (e.g: one heaped table

spoon of raisins, currants or sultanas, one tablespoon of mixed fruit, two gs, three prunes or one handful of dried banana chips).

Further details on the issues outlined here were given in various presentations which followed. Many of these will be covered in further articles to follow on the IEG Vu website.

 

 

De ning the categories

 

In the broad category of dried fruit there are various sub-categories and it is important to know the differences, Lovegrove pointed out in her introductory remarks.

 

Under the general term of dried fruit, there is ‘traditional’ or ‘conventional’ dried fruit that has no added sugar. This includes dates, gs, prunes, raisins, apricots, apples and pears.

 

Some dried fruits are infused with sugar solution or fruit juice concentrate, such as blueberries, cranberries, cherries, strawberries and mangos.

 

Some fruits sold as dried fruit are actually ‘candied’ fruit, such as papaya and pineapple.

 

These descriptions were from the 2013 study: Dried fruits. Phytochemicals and health effects by Ed Alasalvar & Shahidi.

 

It is known from Public Health advice that dried fruits can count towards one of the recommended ve a day for fruits and vegetables.

 

There have also been government recommendations to increase daily bre intake to 30 grams and reduce sugar intakes to 5% of total energy consumption.

 

“Dried fruit can contribute to the bre intake,” Lovegrove explained. “Traditional dried fruits would not have contributed to the free sugars, but it would if it was candied or had other sweet infusions, so again there are differences to the way in which these different fruits can contribute to our nutrient intake.”
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In addition to bre content, dried fruits contain minerals, vitamins and phytochemcials, Lovegrove noted.
“The advice for dried fruit is not necessarily consistent and as Simon (Melik) says, there are some mixed messages out there,” she remarked.

Lovegrove revealed that the NHS Choices website gives the cautionary note that “dried fruit can be high in sugar and can be bad for your teeth”. Moreover, it suggests: “Try to swap dried fruit for fresh fruit, especially between meals. To reduce the risk of tooth decay, dried fruit is best enjoyed as part of a meal, as dessert for example, not as a between meal snack.”

Another area of regular confusion is what constitutes a portion size. A rough rule of thumb is 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit or 30g of dried fruit (e.g: one heaped table

spoon of raisins, currants or sultanas, one tablespoon of mixed fruit, two gs, three prunes or one handful of dried banana chips).

Further details on the issues outlined here were given in various presentations which followed. Many of these will be covered in further articles to follow on the IEG Vu website.





 

 


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