Sunday, December 9, 2012

Article # 108. Health Benefits of RAISINS

What happens when you compare two items that are practically identical, like raisins and grapes? Raisins are actually dried grapes--so is there any nutritional difference between these two food items?

Grapes versus Raisins
When a fruit is dried, its components become concentrated. But is this good or bad? According to some researchers, that question is difficult to answer--and it kind of depends on why you are eating grapes or raisins to begin with.

Researchers have found that ounce for ounce, raisins contain almost three times the amount of antioxidants as their original grape counterparts. This means that you can eat one ounce of raisins and get the same amount of antioxidants as if you ate three ounces of grapes. Antioxidants are important in promoting and maintaining good health and optimal growth, and are essential in the treatment and prevention of certain chronic diseases, especially cancers. In addition, if you don't really enjoy the taste of either grapes or raisins, you can eat only a small amount of raisins and still get relatively high health benefits.

Health Benefits of Raisins
The health benefits of raisins include relief from constipation, acidosis, anemia, fever, and sexual weakness. Raisins also help in weight gain, eye care, dental care, and bone health.
Raisins are indispensable when it comes to dry fruits. Those golden, green or black colored delicacies are favorites of almost everybody, especially children. Raisins are widely used worldwide in cuisines (especially in desserts), health tonics, as snacks and also as food for mountaineers, trekkers etc.
Raisins are obtained by drying grapes (green or black), either in sun or in driers, and look like golden, green or black gems. Indeed they are like gems when their nutritional values and health benefits are considered.
Constipation: When ingested, raisins swell as the fiber present in them in dried form absorbs water. This helps giving relief in constipation
Weight Gain: Raisins, like all dry fruits, are very good for gaining weight, as they are full of fructose and glucose and give a lot of energy. Thus, they form an ideal part of the diet for either athletes or body builders who need a lot of energy or those who want to put on weight, without accumulating cholesterol. This is further boosted due to presence of many vitamins, amino acids and minerals (such as selenium, phosphorus etc.) in raisins which facilitate absorption of other nutrients and proteins in the body.
Acidosis: Acidosis is a state of increased acidity of the blood (also known as toxicity of the blood) or of the gases in our respiratory system, the source of acids for both being our stomach. This is very harmful for the body as it may give rise to a number of problems like boils, skin diseases and damage to the internal organs, arthritis, gout, renal calculi, hair loss, heart diseases, tumors and even cancer. Raisins are good source of potassium and magnesium (two of the most popular constituents of antacids, being basic in nature) both of which are very effective in reducing acidity. They neutralize the acids and thus help check acidosis.
Anemia: Raisins contain considerable amount of iron which directly helps treating anemia. It also contains many members of vitamin-B complex which are essential for formation of blood. Copper in them also help formation of red blood cells.
Fever: Phenolic Phytonutrients, well known for their germicidal, anti biotic and anti oxidant properties, are present in abundance in raisins and help cure fever by fighting viral and bacterial infections.
Sexual Weakness: Raisins are known to stimulate libido and induce arousal, primarily due to presence of an amino acid called Arginine, which is beneficial in treating problems in erection. It has been a common practice in India to make the bride and the groom drink a glass of milk each, boiled with raisins and added with a pinch of saffron. It is also recommended for those suffering from sexual weakness, to consume raisins regularly. This effect is aided with the presence of lot of energy in raisins.
Bone Health: While Calcium, which is the main constituent of bones, is present in raisins, it is one of the best sources of Boron, a micro nutrient (a nutrient required by the body in very small amount as compared to other nutrients) which is very necessary for proper bone formation and absorption of calcium. Boron is particularly helpful in preventing osteoporosis induced by menopause in women and is very beneficial for bones and joints.

Eye Care: Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients which have anti oxidant properties which are very good for ocular health, as they protect eyes from damages caused by free radicals (oxidants), such as macular degeneration, age related weakening of vision, cataract etc. In addition, it contains very good amount of vitamin-A, A-Beta Carotene and A-Carotenoid, all of which are essential for a good ocular health.

Dental Care: Oleanolic Acid, one of the phytochemicals present in raisins, plays crucial role in protecting your teeth against tooth decay, cavities, brittleness of teeth etc. It effectively prevents growth of Streptococcus Mutans and Porphyromonas Gingivalis, two of the species of bacteria which are most responsible for cavities and other dental problems. In addition, it is rich in calcium which is very good for promoting dental health, as it prevents breaking or peeling away of teeth and enamel and makes them strong. One more interesting thing about raisins is that the longer they stick to your teeth, the better, as it ensures longer contact of Oleanolic Acid with the teeth preventing growth of bacteria. In addition to above, boron present in raisins plays a very important role in checking growth of germs in the mouth as well promotes health of bones and teeth. 
Other Benefits: Catechin, a phenolic anti oxidant present in raisins, is very effective for prevention of tumor and cancer of colon. The fibers in it help excretion of bile from the body, burning of cholesterol and thereby ensuring good cardiac health.


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