The health benefits of raisins include good source of essential minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, etc. reduction in acidosis, relieves from constipation, nutrient food or tonic during fevers, heals injuries to brain and is also a potential anti-microbial.
Raisins are one of the popular forms of dried fruits that we can find. These raisins are the dried form of grapes. And they are extensively used in cooking, baking and brewing. Here we must understand that not types or grades of grapes are used for making raisins. Instead, the best quality grapes which are very sweet are only used to make raisins.
It is believed that raisins were first prepared in the Mediterranean region. Eventually it spread to other parts of Asia and Europe such as Iran, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Turkey, Italy, France and Spain. It was later introduced in the Americas, South Africa and Australia as well.
One of the major processes for making raisins is by dehydrating grapes. The classic process of dehydration was done using sun drying method. Sun drying method is often a slow process resulting in low quality raisins. On the other hand, after the industrial revolution, machines have been made to take over the dehydrating process. Under the machine process, giant dryers are employed which sweep in hot air through grapes, resulting in evaporation of moisture. Though, this process is costly, the process takes very less time compared to sun drying method and also ensures quality of raisins, thanks to the controllable atmosphere within the dryers.
Nutrition in raisins
The Nutrient Database from the US Department of Agriculture cites the nutrition of raisins as follows.
|Nutrient||Value per 100 g||Nutrient||Value per 100 g|
|Water||15.43 g||Energy||299 kcal|
|Protein||3.07 g||Total Lipid||0.46 g|
|Carbohydrates||79.18 g||Fiber||3.7 g|
|Sugars||59.19 g||Calcium||50 mg|
|Iron||1.88 mg||Magnesium||32 mg|
|Phosphorous||101 mg||Potassium||749 mg|
|Sodium||11 mg||Zinc||0.22 mg|
|Vitamin C||2.3 mg||Thiamin||0.106 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.125 mg||Niacin||0.766 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.174 mg||Folate||5 ug|
|Vitamin E||0.12 mg||Vitamin K||3.5 ug|
Can I give raisins to my child?
Yes, you can give raisins to your child, of course with some precautions and care. The ideal time to start feeding your child with raisins can mostly be around 8-10 months of age. By this time, their jaws become strong enough to chew raisins. But, it is advisable to give raisins along with meal so that there is no risk of cavities forming in your baby’s newly growing teeth. Another area of risk that is felt by many parents is about choking. In 2010, the AAP removed raisins from the list of foods that can cause choking in babies, due to lack of cases.
Health benefits of raisins for babies
Here are some of the health benefits of raisins for babies.
Good source of useful minerals: As we know, minerals are very important for a baby’s development which includes calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and potassium. Each of these minerals has a great role to play in physical as well as mental development of your baby.
Reduces acidosis: The bodies of babies are extremely vulnerable to acid alkaline imbalance. Increase in the acidic levels in the body contributes to acidosis. Giving raisins reduces the acidic levels in your baby as raisins are alkaline in nature. Thus, by giving raisins to your baby, you can help in maintaining the acid alkaline level for good health. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Natural laxative: The amount of dietary fiber contained in raisins is high and it is ideally suited for removing constipation. Giving raisins is particularly useful for babies as the fiber helps in regulating the bowel movement for a smooth and healthy digestive system in babies. You can give raisins by boiling them in water and crushing them when cold and giving the puree to your babies. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Nutrient food during fevers: Raisins, just like dates, can act as tonic when your baby has fever. Soak or boil skinless and crushed raisins in water and give this mixture under febrile conditions. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Heals injuries to brain: Recent studies indicate that raisins and grapes are highly beneficial in healing brain injuries in infants and they are also useful in protecting the central nervous system. Protection of central nervous system is enables healthy brain development in babies. Apart from these, raisins or grapes are also useful for enhancing memory, according to the study. (Nassiri-Asl, Hosseinzadeh, 2009).
Potential antimicrobial: The biochemicals such as gallic acid, hydroxycinamic acids, flavanols, trans-resveratrol and tannins found in grapes and raisins have been noted to contain antimicrobial properties. The skin of raisins particularly contains these biochemicals which possess these antimicrobial properties. (Nassiri-Asl, Hosseinzadeh, 2009).
Measures to be taken while giving raisins to your baby
Here are some of the measures that can be taken while giving raisins to your baby.
Rinse raisins: You need to wash raisins every time, before giving it your baby. One of the major reasons is that the first stage of drying grapes could have dips in chemicals. There is a chance that raisins might still contain traces of those chemicals. So, rinse them thoroughly before processing it. Rinsing also removes any foreign objects that are stuck to raisins due to the sticky outer surface.
Crushed or mashed raisins: Though the risk of choking is hardly present in raisins, still your baby without teeth might have hard time chewing raisins. One of the best ways to do it is by crushing them into very small pieces. Mix these pieces in another food so it becomes easy for your baby to eat raisins.
No juice of raisins: Regularly giving your baby, raisin juice doubles the chance of developing cavities. So, do not give your baby, raisin juice regularly. Limit it only under certain circumstances such as fevers.