Dehydrating food is a great way to preserve your food longer. It enhances nutritional diversity since this food preparation method enables you to do so much more with your food.
Is dehydrated food healthy, though? Does this preservative method affect the nutritional value of your meals? Does food dehydration somehow affect the composition of the product and is it always healthy to consume these foods?
In this guide, we will answer these questions. Keep reading to see how we address other concerns when you start experimenting with food dehydration.
Is Dehydrated Food Healthy?
Consuming dehydrated food isn't quite as healthy as eating fresh foods. This is because food does lose a little bit of its nutritional value while they are dehydrated. Over time, they will only gradually lose more nutrients.
Despite the slight nutrient loss, it’s still a very healthy food source. This is especially the case in times of need when fresh fruits and vegetables might be hard to come by.
There are a few occasions when this food source might not be quite as good for your body.
When is Dehydrated Food Unhealthy?
Dehydrated foods are unhealthy if the food products become spoiled or if you over-indulge. Spoiled dehydrated foods can make you feel sick. Overeating can cause an increase in weight.
Spoiled Dehydrated Foods
Dried foods can become spoiled if they are not prepared and stored properly. At the end of the day, this can affect your health. Dehydrated food products can become infested with bacteria, mold, or microorganisms if the food is exposed to
- Too much direct light
- Too much direct heat
When this happens, the food can become discolored and the taste will be altered. You might even notice mold growing inside the packages.
The chances of eating spoiled dried food are much lower than the chances of consuming spoiled fresh food. Dried food has an incredible shelf life and will stay fresh for much longer compared to undehydrated food items.
Eating Excessively Large Portions of Dry Food
When you are eating dehydrated foods, you should also be mindful of your portions. Dehydrated foods are a lot more compact. A slice of dehydrated banana is much smaller than a fresh banana slice, yet both of these foods might contain the same nutritional value.
Dehydrated food items like dried fruits and meats can also be very tasty. It’s very tempting to consume large portions of these foods, which can affect your total daily calorie intake.
What are the Health Benefits of Consuming Dehydrated Food
Dehydrated food products can be very healthy when the food is still in good condition, and you are mindful of portion control. Eating these foods can offer you many benefits because the foods are packed with minerals, and concentrated nutrients. They are high in fiber, packed with energy, and easy to consume.
Let's take a closer look at the top benefits that this type of food preparation method can offer your body.
When you make your own dehydrated foods, you are guaranteed that you will only be consuming healthy ingredients. Your food isn't contaminated with unhealthy ingredients or artificial preservatives and colorants.
These foods are much healthier than average snack items like potato chips that contain excessive amounts of oils.
Dry foods are 100% natural and are made from real food products. The nutritional value of each piece of dehydrated food is very similar to the nutritional value of food in a moist form. This is especially true if a food dehydrator is used instead of using the oven-drying technique.
The only difference is that the dehydration process removes the water contents which reduces the size of the product. This means you will get a lot more nutrients for every gram of food you consume.
This high nutritional content is great for those who want to get plenty of nutrients so they can maintain high energy levels.
Plenty of Fiber and Antioxidants
Food items like apples, cranberries, and strawberries retain antioxidants after the drying process. These foods are rich in fiber, which is great for maintaining a healthy digestive system. The abundance of antioxidants found in these foods can boost your overall health and reduce inflammation.
No Added Sugar or Calories
Dehydrated foods are made from raw products like raw meat, raw fruit, and raw vegetables. No sugars, trans fats, or additives are included in these foods.
This isn’t the case with other snack food items like bread, muffins, or energy bars. With these snack items, an abundance of additional ingredients is added to enhance the taste of the food. This increases your sugar and calorie intake dramatically.
With dehydrated foods, you get nutrients without taking in extra calories and sugar.
With that said, it is important to realize that these dried foods do naturally contain sugar, calories, and other ingredients. Consuming lots of dried fruits at a time can also contribute to weight gain or a spike in glucose levels.
Eating large portions of food will make your stomach stretch and make you hungrier more often. If you maintain small portions, your stomach will shrink and you will start to feel full after eating smaller meals.
Despite eating smaller portions of dried food, you will still get plenty of nutrients and energy. These foods are concentrated and have a higher nutritional content than fresh fruit and vegetables.
What is the Overall Best Dehydration Method?
The REV (Radiant Energy Vacuum Dehydration) method is currently the best drying method. It offers the best retention results regarding nutrients, color, and flavor in food throughout the drying process.
Food dehydrators use this technology to extract moisture from food in a safe and controlled environment. These devices are not just helpful for preserving nutrients and flavor. They also significantly reduce food drying times.
What Dehydration Method Preserves Food in its Freshest Form?
If you want to preserve as many nutrients in your food, the best drying method you can incorporate is the freeze-drying method. Compared to REV drying and air drying, freeze drying preserves most of the flavor, taste, and nutrients.
In fact, foods that are preserved with this method are almost an exact match to fresh foods in terms of nutritional levels. This method is impractical for the average consumer because it is costly and time-consuming.
How to Maintain The Nutritional Value of Dehydrated Foods
If you want to keep the nutritional value of foods as they dry out, then you need to be careful about your drying technique and storage methods. For commercial use, freeze-drying is a superior method for preserving nutrients. For home purposes, a food dehydrator is the best option.
The storage methods you use can also affect the nutritional value, color, and flavor of dried food over time. It is also very important to keep food safety in mind while you are dehydrating your products.
Many dehydration techniques take a lot of time. If you are not careful about your methods, the food can easily become contaminated by microbes. Be watchful of wind, airflow, and the environment. After too much exposure to these elements, they will be unsuitable for consumption.
Let's take a look at the most important factors of keeping dried foods as healthy and nutritious as possible as you store them.
Use Proper Drying Technique
All sorts of methods can be used to remove moisture from foods. Some of these methods include oven drying, sun drying, air drying, dehumidifier drying, and microwave drying. These can damage the nutritional value. Furthermore, they expose clean food to contaminants (dust and germs in sun-drying baskets) and alter the taste of your dried foods.
A food dehydrator is the safest and best method for drying foods because it is affordable and speeds up the drying process. Moreover, it prevents contamination during the drying process and offers the best nutrient-maintaining results.
Use Proper Storage Methods
In average pantry conditions, dehydrated foods will only stay healthy for 3 - 6 months. The right storage containers and methods can extend this shelf life up to 15 years.
Different storage methods are all good for keeping foods healthy for longer. These methods include using airtight containers, oxygen absorbers, cool temperatures, and storing them away from direct light.
These techniques help prevent food contamination and expiry. They keep your food fresh and healthy for many months or even years.
So, is dehydrated food healthy? Dried foods can be very healthy as long as they are processed and stored properly. Apply good portion control when consuming these nutrient-rich foods.
We hope that our guide offered some helpful insights on the best way to prepare your foods so they will retain as many nutrients as possible. If you want to learn even more about food dehydration or the health benefits of these foods, have a look at some of our other guides on Healthy Meals Hub.
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