When I was a kid, I hated raisins – their texture, the painful sweetness, how they looked so wrinkled and dry. It was bad enough having that granola cereal every morning, but my Mom had to throw in a handful of dried grapes to complete the nightmare.
Of course, they surreptitiously ended up in the bin.
Years later, I realized what that was all about, especially with the surge of scientific – and unscientific – research singing the praises of the nutritional value of raisins.
Dozens of studies conducted over the past 20 years or so concluded that the benefits of raisins (sun-dried or dehydrated grapes) range from the fact that they contain classic nutrients like natural sugars and potassium to newly discovered antioxidant factors.
Made up of 60 percent fructose, raisins are a great source of instant energy because fructose is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. Their high potassium levels make them ideal to help maintain normal blood pressure. And combined with other fruits high on fiber, raisins regulate digestion.
Studies have also suggested that raisins, like other fruits and vegetables, give protection against heart disease and cancer because they contain antioxidants and are also used as part of a lower cholesterol diet since they are a natural satisfying snack that prevents over-eating.
A new trend in what some call unscientific evidence, but what many Muslims, especially in Egypt, take very seriously, is proof from the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed [PBUH] that raisins, like other foods, hold special benefits.
Based on a hadith that appeared in the 13th century Islamic scholar Ibn El Qayyim El Jawziyya’h’s book Al Teb Al Nabawy (Natural Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet) which specifies that 21 red raisins a day will rid the body of any harm, some researchers have conducted studies to investigate the truth of these claims.
Some are even looking into the popular belief that eating raisins together with pistachios will improve your memory. But that’s a whole nother story.
By the numbers:1 cup (165g) or raisins is 493 calories, of which 44 percent is carbohydrates; 24 percent fiber; with zero saturated fats and one percent sodium. For a great resource on nutrition facts, visit www.nutritiondata.com