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Raisins: A healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth

What kind of snack can stay fresh in your cab even during the hot days of summer? Raisins. They don’t need refrigeration and can be easily stored in any air-tight container. They are easy to pack, easy to eat and almost never go bad.

What kind of snack can stay fresh in your cab even during the hot days of summer? Raisins. They don’t need refrigeration and can be easily stored in any air-tight container. They are easy to pack, easy to eat and almost never go bad.

Like other dried fruits, raisins are available everywhere, throughout the year. Certainly, raisins have been around for a long time. They were produced in Persia and Egypt in 2,000 BC. Now the largest commercial producers can be found in California, Australia, Greece, Turkey, Iran and Chile, so there is always a plenteous supply.

When you’re walking through a truck stop, being tempted by all types of sweet treats, why not get some raisins to satisfy your sweet tooth? Raisins are often called nature’s candy. Although they do have a high sugar content, they are also packed full of a variety of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients that will benefit your entire body, not like the empty calories of the other sweet snacks on display.

Raisins are more than wrinkly, old grapes. They are chewy bites of sweet nutrition.

For instance, raisins contain oleanolic acid, which protects your teeth from cavities, tooth decay, and brittleness. Oleanolic acid effectively prevents the growth of streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis, the two worst bacteria for causing cavities, gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. Conveniently, there is no need to brush your teeth after indulging in raisins; the longer oleanolic acid sticks on your teeth, the longer it protects them from the unhealthy oral bacteria.

Your teeth also benefit from the natural fluoride in raisins, which helps harden tooth enamel. Your teeth also appreciate the calcium and phosphorus in raisins and so do your bones, muscles and nervous system.  

Your bones benefit from a micronutrient, boron, which helps you absorb calcium and form bones. One hundred milligrams of raisins contains 2.2 mg of boron. Boron also boosts your brainpower, improving your concentration, hand-eye co-ordination and memory.

Raisins are good also for your blood. Being rich in iron, copper and many members of the Vitamin B complex (thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid) and folate, they help form and repair red blood cells.  

Eating raisins can even help correct an iron deficiency anemia and improve blood clotting. Their Vitamin K helps with clotting and Vitamin C helps to utilize iron efficiently.

Raisins’ potassium and magnesium keep your body balanced by helping reduce acidity and helping remove toxins, which should reduce your chance of being having by boils, arthritis, gout, kidney stones tumors and heart disease. Potassium and magnesium also work together to regulate your heart beat and blood pressure.

Raisin’s polyphenolic phytonutrients act as antioxidants that protect your eyes from harmful free radicals that may cause cataracts, macular degeneration, night blindness and other visual problems.

These polyphenolic phytonutrients also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can lower fevers by killing bacteria from an existing infection. A specific polyphenolic antioxidant, catechin, protects against the development of tumors, especially colon cancer.

Resveratrol, a specific polyphenol anti-oxidant found in both grapes and raisins, has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, blood cholesterol lowering activities.

Resveratrol has been seen to protect against these cancers: melanoma, colon and prostate; and these diseases: coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease; as well as Alzheimer’s and viral/ fungal infections.

Resveratrol also reduces the risk of stroke caused by high blood pressure because it alters the molecular mechanisms in blood vessels in these two ways. It decreases the activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone that triggers blood vessels to constrict) and increases the production of nitric oxide (a compound that relaxes blood vessels).

Raisins, especially from red or purple grapes, are very high in anthocyanins (another type of polyphenolic anti-oxidant).

Anthocyanins have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-microbial and also anti-cancer activities.

Raisins are really high in fiber. As soon as you eat them, their fibers absorb water and swell, creating a laxative effect, relieving constipation. Regularly eating raisins helps maintain regular bowel movements, allowing the fibers to scrub away toxins and waste materials from your gastrointestinal tract. A cup of raisins contains about 10 grams of dietary fiber (30% of your daily requirement).

Studies suggest that moderate fiber in your diet will help lower body weight, cholesterol levels in the blood, and colon and breast cancer.

In addition, raisins also have lots of flavonoid compounds such as tararic acid, tannins, catechins which combine with the fiber to improve the laxative action.

For sure, raisins are good for you and they’re easy to take. They are great alone, or mixed with nuts and other dried fruits.

They can be sprinkled over cereal, salads, or fruit salads. They can be added to muffins, breads or other baked goods.

And, do you know what’s really sweet? You can enjoy this versatile snack in moderation without any guilt. Sweet!

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