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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Fantastically Freeze Dried

Do the words “freeze dried foods” conjure up images of astronauts or treks to remote camp grounds? Well, according to studies supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research, it’s time for at least one category, freeze dried fruits, to get an image overhaul (pay attention Tom Cruise –– just kidding!). Scientists say these crunchy, light weight goodies retain almost all of the disease fighting phytochemicals found in their fresh state.

In case you haven’t heard, phytochemicals are the celebs of the nutrition world these days. They’re the substances that give gorgeous fruits and veggies their color (lycopene makes tomatoes red, lutein makes corn yellow, carotene makes carrots orange, and anthocyanin makes blueberries blue), but they don’t stop there. Once inside our bodies, these powerhouses are major protectors, keeping healthy cells healthy and less prone to disease (I like to think of them as little body guards for our cells).

Ok, so, you may be thinking, “How the heck do you freeze dry a fruit anyway?” Well, let’s take berries for example - first they’re frozen, then a special vacuum completely dries them out by removing all of the water, but the other good stuff stays right there, including that amazing anthocyanin. So, if you can’t always eat fresh produce, freeze dried can be a good option, particularly if you’re on-the-go.

These days you can find freeze dried fruits at grocery stores and specialty markets, or online. Look for varieties with no sugar added and keep in mind that a quarter cup (size of a golf ball) is equivalent to 1 cup (baseball) of fresh fruit. I’ve seen freeze dried strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, mangoes, apples, and fruit blends. They make great snacks because they’re so light and portable, but you can also add them to cereal, or toss them into garden salads.

P.S. Freeze dried fruits are a little different from dried fruits but they’re both great options – check out this fab link to the 5 a Day site about the benefits of dried fruit. I just polished off a few yummy dried plums myself (no longer called prunes – yet another image overhaul!).
http://www.5aday.gov/month/dried_fruit.html
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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