We recently read an article claiming that you should eat six or seven raisins soaked in water every morning. It said it would aid digestion and constipation. That struck us as a little odd. Why would you soak them in water? Was there any real benefit to it?
Proponents of eating soaked raisins claim the practice offers a variety of benefits. Soaking the raisins will wash off any dirt on them. That is completely true. It rehydrates the raisins, making them help you get more water into your day. That’s also true. And they claim it improves the fruit’s bioavailability of nutrients and antioxidants. That isn’t proven.
Articles we read preaching the benefits of soaked raisins didn’t list anything beyond the benefits of regular raisins. Some hinted that the fiber in the raisins benefited from being rehydrated. But your body will use the fiber largely the same way.
“In India there is this belief floating around that soaked raisins are superfoods. It’s a very common nutritional advice to have soaked raisins or raisin water even when fresh grapes are in season,” said nutritionist Bhuvan Rastogi. “I was unable to find proper research on the topic. All articles about the benefits of soaked raisins or raisin water talk about the benefits of raisins, not the added advantage of soaking. If there is, it’s nothing more than the usual better absorption of nutrients.”
It’s safe to say that soaked raisins are no healthier than normal raisins. Just eat raisins with a glass of water, and you’ll save yourself the time it would take to rehydrate them. So, the real question is, should you eat raisins or grapes? Raisins are dried grapes. They have the same danger inherent to all dried fruit — you can eat far too many, far too quickly. Raisins in and of themselves are a healthy snack, but watching your portion size is essential.
As they dry, they change very little in nutrition. A cup of grapes has 104 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrates and 1.4 grams of fiber. A quarter cup of raisins, roughly the same amount, has 108 calories, 29 grams of carbohydrates and one gram of fiber. Both grapes and raisins have a GI of 49-49, depending on the variety. That makes them low to medium GI foods. However, their vitamin levels change substantially. That’s because many vitamins are impacted by the heat, light and air used to dehydrate them.
Per calorie, grapes have 18 times more vitamin K than raisins. They have almost seven times more vitamin E. They contain six times more vitamin C. They have nearly three times for thiamine. And they have two and a half times more riboflavin. Additionally, the vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin initially present in grapes appear to be completely lost when they are turned into raisins. However, ounce to ounce, raisins have almost three times more antioxidants than grapes. Depending on what you are looking for, they offer different benefits.
The fiber in grapes or raisins can aid blood sugar. And, as it keeps you feeling full, it may help you reach your weight management goals. When choosing between the two, generally speaking, we recommend fresh fruit whenever possible. As for soaking, if you want squishy raisins, go for it! Otherwise, skip the unnecessary step.