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Raisins are one of the most famous traditional dry fruits of India. Raisins are grapes which are dried naturally under the sun. There are two major varieties of raisins - seeded and seedless. Depending upon the type of grape used, the colour of raisins could vary from green to purple to black.  

Raisins are produced in many parts of the world. The USA is the largest producer of raisins, followed by Turkey and South Africa.

Raisins can be eaten raw or can be added to other food items and desserts. In India, one can find raisins in puddings, desserts and certain varieties of rice items. A ¼th cup of raisins or 60-70 raisins contain a high content of fibre and potassium. Raisins do not contain any fat.  Raisins are packed with several essential vitamins and minerals which are necessary for the healthy functioning of the body. They are also known for their antioxidant property and low content of sodium. All of these make raisins a perfect snack.

Some basic facts about Raisins:

  • Botanical name: Vitis Vinifera
  • Family: Grapevine family (Vitaceae)
  • Common Name: Kishmish, Sultanas, and Currants
  • Sanskrit name: Draksa
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Grapes are cultivated in Italy, Turkey, Spain, China, France, Argentina and the USA. USA and Turkey account for about 80% of the world’s total raisins production. In India, it is cultivated on over 34,000 hectares of land with an annual production of 1,000,000 tonnes. Maharashtra is the largest raisin producing state of India, followed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
  1. Raisins nutrition facts
  2. Raisins health benefits
  3. Raisins side effects
  4. Takeaway

Raisins have high levels of antioxidants in them which are considered to be beneficial for fighting against various diseases. Raisins have about 3% protein and about 3.8 to 6.7% of fibre content. Raisins have a low Glycemic Index (GI). 

The nutritional values of (seedless) raisins per 100 grams as per the USDA Nutritional Database is as follows:                                                                                  

Nutrients Value per 100 g
Water 15.46 g
Energy 299 kcal
Protein 3.30 g
Carbohydrates 79.32 g
Fibre 4.5 g
Sugars 65.18 g
Minerals  
Calcium 62 mg
Iron 1.79 mg
Magnesium 36 mg
Potassium 744 mg
Sodium 26 mg
Zinc 0.36 mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin B1 0.106 mg
Vitamin B2 0.125 mg
Vitamin B3 0.766 mg
Vitamin B6 0.174 mg
Vitamin B9 5 µg
Vitamin C 2.3 mg
Vitamin E 0.12 mg
Vitamin K 3.5 µg
Fats/ Fatty Acids  
Saturated 0.094 g
Monounsaturated 0.024 g
Polyunsaturated 0.053 g
Trans 0.001 g
  • For energy: Raisins are loaded with carbohydrates and natural sugars and eating a handful of them has an energy-boosting action.
  • For weight loss: It has been found that individuals who regularly consume raisins have a lower BMI and waist circumference as they promote satiety. It thereby prevents obesity.
  • For anaemia: Raisins are rich in iron, which makes it ideal for consumption by anaemics, as it assists in the formation of RBCs and thereby prevents iron deficiency anaemia. Thus, raisins are commonly recommended for women and children.
  • For the skin: Raisins are rich in antioxidants, which helps to reduce oxidative stress and damage thereby preventing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It may also assist to prevent skin cancer.
  • For digestion: Raisins are a good source of fibres and thus aid in preventing constipation and other digestive issues.
  • For diabetes: Raisins assist in the lowering of blood sugar levels as they have a low glycaemic index and are suitable for diabetics making a healthy snack.
  • For the heart: Raisins help in lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
  • For the teeth: Although raisins are sweet, they contain fructose and glucose, which do not incur harm to the teeth.
  1. Raisins for energy
  2. Raisins for weight loss
  3. Raisins for anaemia
  4. Raisins for healthy skin
  5. Raisins for diabetes
  6. Raisins as a fibre source
  7. Raisins for dental health
  8. Raisins for high blood pressure
  9. Raisins for cancer

Raisins for energy

Raisins are an excellent source of carbohydrates which makes them a natural energy booster. A handful of raisins can be helpful in maintaining the energy levels thus making you feel refreshed. A study was done on athletes to evaluate the energy-boosting effects of the carbohydrates present in raisins. It was observed that raisins helped maintain the blood glucose level during the exercise, thereby being a cost-effective and natural alternative to artificial energy boosters.

Raisins for weight loss

There are several reasons why someone is obese. But one of the most important reasons for obesity is overeating and insufficient physical activity. Both these factors increase the fat buildup in the tissues. Being a rich source of dietary fibre, regular Intake of raisins promotes a feeling of fullness thereby preventing overeating. A study done on raisins to assess the diet quality and body weight showed that people who consumed raisins had lower body weight, waist circumference and lower body mass index (BMI). The research concluded that regular consumption of raisins leads to a better diet quality and prevents obesity.

(Read more: Weight loss diet chart)

Raisins for anaemia

The lack of red blood cells (RBCs) or haemoglobin leads to anaemia. The RBCs are responsible for carrying oxygen to body cells. With the lack of enough RBC the body tissues might not get enough oxygen and this would lead to symptoms like weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Iron plays an important role in maintaining haemoglobin levels in the blood. Deficiency of iron can thus lead to anaemia. Raisins are rich in iron which makes it an ideal food to compensate for the level of iron in anaemic people.

Women need extra iron, especially when they are menstruating and are pregnant. Lack of enough iron in a woman's body reflects as an iron-deficiency in the children. Furthermore, iron is important for the normal growth of the child and his/her brain development. As per a recent study, regular consumption of raisins has been reported to increase the haemoglobin levels in women.

Raisins for healthy skin

Skin is the largest organ in the body and it is important to have a healthy skin. The good news is that raisins can help in maintaining a clean and glowing skin. Antioxidants are known to prevent symptoms of ultraviolet light-induced ageing of the skin. Raisins are highly rich in antioxidants, especially resveratrol which can help prevent skin cancer. Antioxidants also fight the free radical damage done to the skin, thereby preventing wrinkles and inflammation of the skin.

(Read more: Antioxidant rich foods)

Raisins for diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when there is too much sugar (glucose) in the blood. Although there is no cure for diabetes, it can always be kept under control by making certain dietary changes. The Glycemic Index (GI) of raisins is low. GI is a measure of increase in blood sugar levels after consumption of a particular food. Because the GI of raisins is low, it takes longer for raisins to cause a spike in the blood glucose levels, making it an ideal snack diabetic people.

A clinical study showed that raisins are a better alternative to processed snacks for people with type 2 diabetes. These results were deduced after seeing a 23% reduction in the blood glucose levels (postprandial glucose levels) in diabetic people. 

Raisins as a fibre source

Raisins are a very good source of dietary fibre. 100 g of raisins contain about 4.5 g of fibre content. Dietary fibre is a type of carbohydrate that adds bulk to the food and helps you feel fuller. Dietary fibres reegulate bowel movements and help to prevent constipation. They also keep the digestive system healthy by aiding in the growth of helpful gut flora.  Raisins also contain soluble fibres which help lower cholesterol levels in the body.

Raisins for dental health

Dental care is important for the prevention of oral problems such as dry mouth and bad breath and for keeping the teeth and gums healthy. According to a researcher, raisins have antimicrobial compounds that can fight the harmful bacteria in the mouth. The compounds such as oleanolic acid, linoleic acid and betulin present in raisins were effective against certain bacteria such as S.mutans and P.gingivalis.

Sucrose (a type of sugar) present in the food particles get stuck to the surface of the teeth and lead to bacterial growth in the mouth. This, in turn, releases acids that are harmful to the teeth. The sugars present in raisins comprises of glucose and fructose and do not contain sucrose. So, they do not possess such harm to the teeth.

(Read more: Dental caries treatment)

Raisins for high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure remains constantly above normal. Hypertension is a major risk factor which can lead to various heart diseases. Raisins can help in alleviating the symptoms of high blood pressure especially in those who suffer from prehypertension. This is a healthier snack choice for people with hypertension as compared to other processed snacks.

Studies suggest that regular consumption of dried fruits such as raisins help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

One clinical study showed that regular raisin intake for a period of 12 weeks was accompanied by a significant reduction in blood pressure. Another clinical study reported that consumption of 4 or more servings of raisins per week was associated with a lower risk of hypertension.

Raisins for cancer

Cancer is a disease marked by an abnormal growth in the body cells. It could be caused by numerous factors like smoking, radiations etc. DNA damage caused by free radicals could be one of the factors responsible for cancer. The best way to deal with these free radicals is antioxidant-rich foods. Raisins are packed with antioxidants and other phytochemicals such as phenols and polyphenols. Research shows that consumption of foods rich in these phytochemicals can prevent many types of cancer.

In a study done to evaluate the effectiveness of raisins against human colon cancer cells, it was observed that the high levels of phenolic compounds were responsible for the anti-radical activity and prevention of colon cancer.

Raisins are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All of these nutrients are beneficial for the body. But eating them in excess can be harmful. Although raisins are usually safe for consumption, they do come with a few side effects.

  • Raisin allergy is very uncommon among children and adults. There have been very few reported cases of such allergy after consumption of raisins. However, there was a case where an 8-year-old experienced itching in the mouth and nausea after consumption of raisins. This was seen repeatedly whenever the patient consumed raisins. Therefore, one should immediately seek medical help if they experience uneasiness and allergy-like symptoms after eating raisins

  • Raisins have been found to be excellent hypoglycemics (reduces blood sugar levels) so if you have low blood sugar levels or if you are a diabetic person on medication, it is best that you avoid taking raisins or ask your doctor before taking raisins.

  • Studies suggest that raisins reduce blood pressure. They should be avoided by people who are naturally hypotensive (low blood pressure).

Raisins are a superfood which when taken in moderate and reasonable quantities on a daily basis can prevent many diseases and make the body healthier. The health benefits of consuming raisins in appropriate quantities outweigh the side effects. Raisins help relieve constipation, promotes digestion, boosts the iron level in the body and provide instant energy to the body. However, if one is allergic to grapes and other derivatives of grapes, they should be careful and seek medical help if they show symptoms of allergy.

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References

  1. Amin Esfahani, Joanne Lam, Cyril W. C. Kendall. Acute effects of raisin consumption on glucose and insulin reponses in healthy individuals. J Nutr Sci. 2014; 3: e1. PMID: 25191601
  2. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 09298, Raisins, dark, seedless. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  3. Lea Borgi et al. FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CONSUMPTION AND THE INCIDENCE OF HYPERTENSION IN THREE PROSPECTIVE COHORT STUDIES. Hypertension. 2016 Feb; 67(2): 288–293. PMID: 26644239
  4. Anderson JW et ak, Raisins compared with other snack effects on glycemia and blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial. Postgrad Med. 2014 Jan;126(1):37-43. PMID: 24393750
  5. Anderson JW, Waters AR. Raisin consumption by humans: effects on glycemia and insulinemia and cardiovascular risk factors. J Food Sci. 2013 Jun;78 Suppl 1:A11-7. PMID: 23789931
  6. Christine D. Wu. Grape Products and Oral Health. J Nutr. 2009 Sep; 139(9): 1818S–1823S. PMID: 19640974
  7. Kampa M1, Nifli AP, Notas G, Castanas E. Polyphenolsand cancer cell growth. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol. 2007;159:79-113. PMID: 17551696
  8. Kountouri AM et al. Chemopreventive properties of raisins originating from Greece in colon cancer cells. Food Funct. 2013 Feb 26;4(3):366-72. PMID: 23211994
  9. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Dietary Fiber
  10. Bell SJ. A review of dietary fiber and health: focus on raisins. J Med Food. 2011 Sep;14(9):877-83. PMID: 21476884
  11. Bays H, Weiter K, Anderson J. A randomized study of raisins versus alternative snacks on glycemic control and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Phys Sportsmed. 2015 Feb;43(1):37-43. PMID: 25609549
  12. Health Harvard Publishing. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Why people become overweight. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  13. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Avoiding Anemia.
  14. Masaki H. Role of antioxidants in the skin: anti-aging effects. . J Dermatol Sci. 2010 May;58(2):85-90. PMID: 20399614
  15. Nguyen G, Torres A. Systemic antioxidants and skin health. J Drugs Dermatol. 2012 Sep;11(9):e1-4. PMID: 23135663
  16. Marion Dumoulin, David Gaudout, Benoit Lemaire. Clinical effects of an oral supplement rich in antioxidants on skin radiance in women . Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016; 9: 315–324. PMID: 27799805
  17. Chandra K. Singh, Xiaoqi Liu, Nihal Ahmad. Resveratrol, in its natural combination in whole grape, for health promotion and disease management . Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Aug; 1348(1): 150–160. PMID: 26099945
  18. Kaliora AC, Kountouri AM, Karathanos VT. Antioxidant properties of raisins (Vitis vinifera L.). J Med Food. 2009 Dec;12(6):1302-9. PMID: 20041785
  19. S Chibuluzo,T Pitt. Raisin allergy in an 8 year old patient . Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2014; 10(Suppl 2): A6. PMCID: PMC4304147
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