What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Raisins Every Day

They're sweet, they're filling and they're good for your heart. Here's why you may want to bring raisins back as a go-to snack.

Raisins are famous for being sweet little additions to bran cereal, oatmeal and trail mix. That said, they don't always have the best reputation, being painted as super-sugary pieces of fruit. Like other dried fruits, raisins contain sugar, which is often natural (not added) sugar. Raisins also offer other nutritional benefits such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here's why raisins can fit within a healthy diet.

What Are Raisins?

Raisins are dried grapes. In the United States (mainly in California), Thompson grapes are the most common variety used to make raisins. After harvesting, mature grapes are placed in the sun to dry, according to Britannica. The dehydration process turns the green grapes to a dark brown color and concentrates all of the natural sugars within. Alternatively, grapes can be dehydrated through a more controlled indoor process which involves being treated with lye and sulfur dioxide. This keeps the grape skins from turning brown as they dry, keeping them bright yellow, hence why they are often referred to as golden raisins or sultana raisins.

Raisins are a historically significant food. According to Britannica, references to them can be found in the Bible and Greek and Roman literature. They also play a significant role in cuisines worldwide, including dishes that hail from Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Spain.

Raisins Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, a ¼-cup serving of raisins contains:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 32 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugars: 26 g
  • Potassium: 298 mg
  • Calcium: 25 mg

Health Benefits of Raisins

Provide Gut-Healthy Fiber

There's a reason cereal and oatmeal makers add raisins to their products. That added natural sweetness boost and an array of nutritional properties make them a great choice. Raisins offer 2 grams of fiber per ¼-cup serving. Consuming adequate fiber supports both your gut and heart health. Raisins can be a helpful way to reach the daily requirement of 28 to 34 grams of total fiber each day recommended in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Boost Your Potassium Intake

Raisins are also a great way to get more potassium into your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, potassium is an important electrolyte involved with muscle contraction, heartbeat regulation and fluid balance within your body.

Help Meet Your Daily Fruit Requirement

Raisins can also be a great way to help you meet your daily fruit requirement, especially if fresh fruit isn't available, says Maggie Moon, M.S., RD, a Los Angeles-based nutrition expert and author of The MIND Diet. There's also evidence that raisins may benefit health in other ways. "Research suggests snacking on raisins helps with long-term blood sugar control and may even lower blood pressure," Moon says. In addition, people who eat raisins tend to have healthier diets: raisins contain antioxidants that may help bolster cardiovascular function, have antibacterial properties that can improve oral health, and are prebiotics, which can promote gut health, per a 2020 review in Nutrients.

Bowl of oatmeal on blue table

Pictured Recipe: Quinoa & Chia Oatmeal Mix

Potential Risks

Too much of anything isn't good. The same is true for raisins. Luckily you'd have to consume a large amount before you'd run into trouble. Moon confirms that It's hard to over-consume natural foods to the point of a meaningfully negative outcome. She notes that, most likely, the worst thing to happen would be some stomach upset, possibly due to excessive fiber, potassium or sugars. Stick with the recommended ¼-cup serving, and you should be fine. And if you have diabetes, consult your physician and registered dietitian for their recommendations, since even a small amount of raisins can be high in carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association recommends being cautious of portion sizes when you consume dried fruit.

How to Eat Raisins

Raisins can be enjoyed in several ways. A small handful can be tossed in your morning bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Or you can combine them with nuts, seeds and popcorn to create a homemade trail mix. Be sure to purchase raisins labeled "unsweetened" to avoid any added sugars.

Moon enjoys raisins in warm couscous or rice pilaf dishes to add a bit of contrasting sweetness to the dish. She also recommends trying raisins as a substitution for dried cranberries.

Looking for a few recipes to try? Why not turn your raisins into a delicious salad dressing with this recipe for Greens & Mango Salad with Ginger-Raisin Vinaigrette? If you're looking for a hearty breakfast recipe, try this Quinoa & Chia Oatmeal Mix, which features raisins.

How to Make Your Own

If you're up for it, you can absolutely make your own raisins at home. Buy fresh grapes and avoid any that look old, have mushy spots or show evidence of mold. Wash and dry the grapes thoroughly, and remove any stems. Spread them out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake at 225°F, until browned and dry, for 4 to 6 hours. Let cool before transferring to a jar and sealing. Store in the refrigerator for best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are raisins the same as sultanas?

Sultanas are also called "golden" raisins. They maintain their golden color after the dehydration process thanks to the addition of sulfur dioxide.

2. Are raisins and currants the same?

Raisins and currants are both made from grapes, but the variety is different. So similar but different.

3. Is it healthy to snack on raisins?

A quarter-cup of raisins can be a healthy snack, especially if you include various other foods in your diet.

4. Do raisins help you lose weight?

No food is a one-hit wonder for weight loss. However, raisins contain fiber, which can help with satiety and curb hunger, according to research in Nutrients in 2020. They can be high in calories, depending on your portion size. A quarter-cup of raisins has 120 calories. If you are looking to lose weight, make sure the amount you eat fits your nutrition goals.

The Bottom Line

Raisins are a delicious way to add flavor and nutrition to your meals and snacks. They are rich in fiber that helps support your gut and heart health. Just keep an eye on the portion size and choose varieties labeled "unsweetened" or with "no added sugar."

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