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Drying various foods through dehydration is an ancient practice. And you can find really old recipes containing sundried tomatoes, dates, or raisins.
Preserving food through dehydration is quite effective, and luckily, there are home appliances that we can use to that end. A food dehydrator keeps fruits, vegetables, and herbs edible for decades, and the taste of these foods is pretty amazing as well.
It’s like all of the goodness in the fresh fruits is concentrated in the dried form. The question is then; are they also nutritious? And is a food dehydrator healthy? Let’s take a look…
Are Dehydrated Foods Healthy?
Dehydrated foods are almost identical to the fresh form minus the water content. Various studies showed that effective drying keeps almost all of the proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers, fats, and carbohydrates as the fresh form.
Furthermore, it was found that leaving fruits and vegetables in the fridge for a few days reduces their nutritional content drastically. Thus, dehydrating fresh produce is a great way to preserve them in the best possible form.
And speaking of preserving foods, there are several traditional methods of prolonging the shelf life of edible materials. Pickling, freezing, sugaring, or vacuum packing are all nice, but they all lose important nutrients while being processed, and they don’t last as long as dehydrated foods.
Possible Health Benefits of Using a Food Dehydrator
Using a dehydrator can be quite beneficial to you, especially, if you consume dried food in the right amount. Here’s how.
- It’s a healthy snack that’s easy to prepare and carry, instead of binging on sweets or salty chips.
- It’s a good source of dietary fiber, which is essential for digestion and general biological system functionality.
- It provides an energy boost that’s perfect for the energy slump one often feels around midday.
- An easy and economic way to stock up the pantry with highly nutritious foods. The extended expiry date helps a lot.
- The high content of antioxidants improves immunity and speeds up the recovery time from various illnesses.
- Dried foods have a low risk of contamination with bacteria or mold, as they don’t contain the humidity necessary for their growth. This is a big plus, especially for the young ones.
A Few Concerns
Too much of a good thing is often not so good. And here’s the catch; dried foods are much smaller in their dehydrated form than in their original fresh form. That’s why it’s quite easy to binge a little bit more on dehydrated snacks.
Here are some points that you might want to bear in mind, so you can keep your consumption within healthy and optimal limits.
- The sugar content of a handful of dehydrated snacks can be pretty high. Care should be taken to avoid consuming too many calories.
- Vitamins A, C, and B often remain intact after drying, however, some processes could reduce or eliminate them entirely. It’s best then to include alternative fresh sources in your diet.
- Some dehydrated foods have a higher than usual vitamin K content, which might affect the efficacy of some medications.
- Dried fruits and vegetables have almost no water at all, so you need to make sure that you’re getting sufficient hydration from other foods and beverages.
The Best Ways to Eat Dehydrated Foods
Snacks and Salads
Dehydrated foods are quite versatile, and you can just grab a handful of dried apple chips, raisins, dates, or berries and enjoy them as a snack. They can also be sprinkled over a salad, a nice bowl of oats, or on various desserts.
Cooking and Soups
You can use dried produce in making delicious soups. Dried potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and various other herbs, are perfect additions to a hot soup or broth. They’re fabulous in terms of taste, texture, and of course, nutritional content.
Trail Mixes and Quick Lunches
Trail mixes are another popular way to use your dried goodies. Throw in some dried fruits together with a generous serving of nuts, and you’ve got yourself an energy boost in a little packet. This compact meal is perfect for work, college, hikes, and traveling. We don’t always have the luxury of packing a big lunch, so these mixes can be a nice alternative.
Special Cuisines and Recipes
Some cuisines rehydrate dried foods before using them. For example, Moroccan recipes often require leaving raisins in water overnight or soaking them in hot water for a couple of hours. The fruits then become plump again, and they give a different flavor to the food.
A food dehydrator is clearly a healthy choice. Fruits, vegetables, and other greens that spoil within a week can be preserved for months or even decades. And the best part is that they retain almost all of their initial nutrients.
This method is also quite economic if you compare the price of dried fruits in commercial venues to homemade ones. This increased accessibility to better foods is highly recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle.