Sometimes it doesn't take much to improve our health. A small gesture, such as adding some raisins to the breakfast yogurt or eating a handful of raisins as a mid-morning snack, perhaps together with other dried fruit such as walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews. Yes, because raisins provide valuable properties for health, as evidenced by a review published a few months ago in the Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Spanish team (Olmo Cunillera et al, Nutrients, Dec 2019).
Raisins contain about 60% of sugars, mainly fructose and glucose. This is why it has long been considered more like a gluttony than a healthy food. Instead, the scientific research carried out in recent years has shown that raisins provide valuable substances for health and that they have interesting properties. First of all, raisins are rich in fiber also because the drying process converts part of the sugars of the grapes into fiber. Thanks to these substances, raisins act as a prebiotic for the well-being of the intestinal microbiota. Not only that, raisins also provide potassium and antioxidant substances, such as polyphenols and anthocyanins. Raisins help to reduce LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood and blood pressure, with benefits for the cardiovascular system. The article in question also points out that the intake of raisins lowers the amount of particular proteins, called plasma intercellular adhesion molecules or sICAM-1. A consequence of this is that the risk of atherosclerosis is reduced since low levels of sICAM-1 decrease the adhesion of white blood cells to the wall of blood vessels and therefore decrease chronic inflammation. Those who habitually consume raisins show lower levels of some indicators of inflammation, such as the tumor necrosis factor alpha.
Raisins have also been considered for a long time a food that affects the health of the teeth by promoting dental cavities. Instead, studies have refuted this belief since they have shown that raisins do not decrease the pH of the mouth below 5.5, which, if it occurs, can cause teeth demineralization. In addition to this, raisins do not remain attached to the teeth for long and contain antimicrobial substances useful for preventing dental problems. Finally, raisins have a low to moderate glycemic index and therefore this makes them an excellent choice even for those who need to keep their blood sugar under control. In short, eating some raisins is certainly a sweet but also very healthy note that can only enrich the daily diet!