Raisins: Benefits, Side Effects & How To Eat

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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They may appear unappealing with their aged appearance and shriveled texture, but raisins are whole, nutrient-dense, and minimally processed foods that are extremely versatile in the kitchen. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, energy, and electrolytes. Known to be healthier substitutes of sugared candies, raisins can be added to your regular yogurt, cereal, granola, trail mix, or baked dishes to not only enhance their taste but also add a nutritional element to them.

They have a plethora of health benefits, which include improved digestion, bone health, iron levels, blood flow, fertility, and sleep. They have also been known for boosting energy, as well as for their positive impact on eyes, teeth, and hair. Let us look at them in detail.

What are Raisins?

Raisins are created by drying grapes, either in the sun or in driers, which turns the grapes into golden, green, or black dried fruit. They are naturally sweet in flavor and are widely used in cuisines around the world, especially in desserts.

Nutrition Facts

Raisins, seeded
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]16.57
Energy [kcal]296
Energy [kJ]1238
Protein [g]2.52
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.54
Ash [g]1.89
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]78.47
Fiber, total dietary [g]6.8
Calcium, Ca [mg]28
Iron, Fe [mg]2.59
Magnesium, Mg [mg]30
Phosphorus, P [mg]75
Potassium, K [mg]825
Sodium, Na [mg]28
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.18
Copper, Cu [mg]0.3
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.27
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]5.4
Thiamin [mg]0.11
Riboflavin [mg]0.18
Niacin [mg]1.11
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.05
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.19
Folate, total [µg]3
Folate, food [µg]3
Folate, DFE [µg]3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.18
14:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.15
18:0 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
18:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.16
18:2 [g]0.12
18:3 [g]0.04
Sources include : USDA

Raisins Nutrition

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, raisins are a good source of energy, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. They are high in sugar and calories, but still, have a low glycemic index. Raisins contain zero cholesterol and are rich in various nutrients that include:

Calories in Raisins

Raisins are high in sugar and calories but are beneficial for health if consumed in moderation. Half a cup of raisins has about 217 calories and 47 grams of sugar. Since they are high in calories, it is recommended that in a day, you should eat a ¼ cup of raisins or 1 small snack box (one and a half oz.). These small snack boxes are available in most grocery stores.

Are Raisins Healthy?

Raisins may be tiny in size, but they pack a nutritional punch! These dried fruits are added to health tonics, snacks, and compact, high-energy food supplements for mountaineers, backpackers, and campers, who need a high calorific-diet to better their performance. A 2011 study published in the Randomized Control Trial Journal shows how raisins are as potent as a brand of sports jelly beans in enhancing the stamina and performance of athletes engaged in high-intensity exercises. Here is our article, ‘Are Raisins Good For You?‘, that will explain the nutritional value of raisins in detail.

A small bowl of raisins on a wooden table

Add raisins to your granola instead of sugar. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits of Raisins

Let’s take a look at the powerful health benefits of raisins below.

Fiber-Rich & Act as a Laxative

Raisins have an abundant supply of fiber in them, which helps to absorb the natural fluids present in the body. This type of fiber is considered insoluble fiber because it takes in water to gain volume. This adds bulk to the food moving through the intestinal tract, making for more regular bowel movements, and ultimately helps get relief from constipation. The fiber in raisins also helps remove toxins and harmful materials from the digestive tract. A healthy digestive tract can prevent intestinal diseases, bacterial growth, and discomfort from bloating. A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, also confirms that adding just two servings of raisins per day – a relatively small dietary change, as they mention can improve colon function and may even decrease the risk of colon cancer.

Prevent Acidity

Raisins are rich in potassium and magnesium, which are a natural remedy for acidosis. According to a 2015 study published in Integrative Medicine Journal, a diet that’s low in these minerals, which are two of the most common components of antacids and basic on the pH scale, can cause acute acidity. Thus, consuming a moderate amount of raisins in your diet may reduce the risk of acidity.

Prevent Anemia and Insomnia

Raisins contain a considerable amount of iron, which directly helps against anemia. Half a cup of raisins contains almost 1.3 milligrams of iron, which is about 16 percent of the daily recommended amount for men and 7 percent of the same for women, as per a report by the Department of Health and Human Services. Raisins are also a rich source of the vitamin B complex that is essential for the production of red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia can be a cause for your insomnia, and therefore, intake of iron-rich raisins can help ensure a good night’s sleep.

Health benefits of raisins infographic

Raisins are made by drying grapes, either in the sun or in driers, which turns the grapes into golden, green, or black dried fruit.

Promote Dental & Oral Health

Raisins are rich in calcium, which strengthens and helps to remineralize tooth enamel. Further, boron present in these dried fruits helps curb the growth of oral germs. Oleanolic acid, one of the phytochemicals present in raisins, plays a crucial role in protecting your teeth against decay, cavities, and brittleness.

According to a report published in Elsevier’s Phytochemistry Letters journal, oleanolic acid has antimicrobial properties. This antioxidant that is prevalent in raisins helps to inhibit bacterias that are a primary cause of dental caries and cavities. Another research states that raisins, despite their stickiness, are swiftly cleared from the mouth and are relatively less retentive on tooth surfaces compared to other foods. This means they do not erode the tooth enamel causing it to decay, discolor, or turn sensitive. However, further research is required in this area.

Rich in Antioxidants

Raisins have high levels of antioxidants that include catechins and polyphenolic phytonutrients. These antioxidants protect against the damage caused by free radicals, one of the primary underlying factors linked to the growth of cancer cells and other conditions such as macular degeneration. However, more scientific evidence is required to confirm these findings.

Promote Bone Health

Calcium, the main element of our bones, is present in raisins. These dried fruits are one of the best sources of boron, a micronutrient (a nutrient required by the body in a very small amount). Boron is vital for the proper bone formation and maintenance, and efficient absorption of calcium, says a report published by a team of American researchers in the Integrative Medicine Journal.

It is particularly helpful in preventing menopause induced osteoporosis in women and very beneficial for bones and joints. Potassium is another essential nutrient found in high levels, which can help strengthen bones and promote bone growth, thereby reducing the chances of osteoporosis.

Gin-soaked golden raisins are a popular folk remedy that helps relieve chronic pain and especially arthritic pain. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people show improvement in arthritic symptoms between 1-8 weeks of consuming 10 of these raisins daily. Having said that, there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting this claim and hence more research is needed.

Increase Fertility

Raisins have long been known to stimulate the libido and induce arousal, primarily due to the presence of an amino acid called L-arginine. The presence of this amino acid helps reduce the symptoms of reduced sperm motility. This is confirmed in research published by a team of Mexican researchers by closely studying patients with diabetes mellitus and asthenozoospermic idiopathy. Arginine is a natural aphrodisiac that increases the levels of sperm motility, thereby increasing the chances of conception when engaging in sexual intercourse.

Improve Skin Health

Antioxidants and vitamin C in raisins help keep the skin radiant, taut, and youthful. Eating them can help prevent conditions like psoriasis and acne as they have strong germicidal properties.

Promote Hair Health

Daily consumption of raisins helps promote shiny and thick hair as the vitamin C content prevents cell damage. Their anti-inflammatory properties help prevent scalp irritation, dandruff, and flakiness. That said, more scientific evidence is required supporting this claim.

Reduce Hypertension

Studies show a connection between lower hypertension and the consumption of raisins. Many of the nutrients packed into them are beneficial. According to a paper presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 61st Annual Scientific Session in 2012, those suffering from hypertension or mild spikes in blood pressure are recommended to consume raisins at least three times a day for 12 weeks.

The report further stated that daily consumption of raisins is likely to lower the blood pressure when compared to the intake of other snacks. However, experts believe that it is the high level of the heart-healthy electrolyte, potassium that helps to reduce the tension of blood vessels and decrease high blood pressure. Those who have a potassium-rich diet have a lower risk of having a stroke, states the report.

Boosts Energy

Raisins are rich in vitamins, amino acids, and minerals such as selenium and phosphorus, which facilitates the absorption of other nutrients and proteins in the body. Including them in your diet helps improve your overall energy and immune system strength. Raisins form an ideal part of a diet for athletes or bodybuilders who need a powerful boost of energy. They also help in healthy weight gain or without accumulating unhealthy amounts of cholesterol.

Manage Diabetes

In several studies, the connection between raisins and blood glucose levels has been researched. Raisins have been linked to lower the postprandial insulin response, which means they can stabilize insulin spikes or plunges after a meal. In a 2015 randomized study, the impact of routine consumption of dark raisins compared to other alternative processed snacks on glucose levels was evaluated. It was thus observed that those who consumed raisins, not only showed lower cardiovascular risk factors but also reduced chances of developing type II diabetes.

This study further showed that those who consumed raisins compared to other snacks had a 23 percent dip in glucose levels after a meal. These very people also experienced a 19 percent fall in fasting glucose and a considerable reduction in systolic blood pressure. Raisins also help regulate the release of leptin and ghrelin, which are the hormones responsible for telling the body when it is hungry or full – another key in thwarting the increase in blood sugar levels. Thus, by keeping a check on these hormones, people who eat raisins can improve their chances of maintaining a healthy diet and prevent overeating.

Promote Kidney Health

Raisins are rich sources of potassium. According to a 2015 research published in the Clinical Nutritional Research potassium can help prevent the formation and reoccurrence of kidney stones. Thus, consuming raisins can reduce the risk of kidney-related diseases. However, more scientific research is required to ascertain that.

Liver Health

Anecdotal evidence suggests that overnight-soaked raisins and raisin water are used as part of the liver cleanse diet as the dried fruits are rich in bioflavonoids that protect you from the free radical activity. Raisin water especially promotes good liver health, which helps purify the blood. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting this claim and hence more research is required.

How to Eat?

Raisins can be included as part of your daily diet in many creative and healthy ways:

  • Sweet crunch: You can sprinkle them on salads, peanut butter-slathered celery sticks, fruit bowls, or make them a part of your homemade trail mix.
  • Salads: Broccoli salad with raisins, as well as carrot raisin salad are popular recipes.
  • Breakfast: Add them to sweeten your oatmeal or smoothie bowl instead of sugar or syrup.
  • Dinner: They make a delightful addition to mashed potatoes, sautéed vegetables, or other side dishes. In the Middle East, they are sprinkled on rice dishes.
  • Natural sweetener: You can use them in muffins and pancakes to sweeten it if you are trying to avoid or cut back on refined sugar.
  • Snack: The dried fruits, in their raw form, are a healthy snack option for people of all ages. Chocolate-covered raisins, as well as yogurt-covered raisins, are also popular for a quick energy burst.

How to Store?

Once opened, raisins should be kept in a cool, dry area. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months. They retain their flavor, color, and nutrition value. You can also keep them refrigerated for a year. In case they dry out, you can make them usable by steaming them over boiling water for a few minutes.

Side Effects

There are a few risk factors in the excessive consumption of raisins.

  • Weight gain: Raisins are undoubtedly a healthier option than sugared candies and help in satiating your sugar pangs but are still quite high in calories and can cause excessive weight gain if not taken in limited amounts. It is advisable to be careful with portion sizes.
  • Diarrhea: Raisins are rich in fiber and are considered an excellent remedy for constipation, bloating, and acidity. Naturally, too much of it can cause severe gastrointestinal problems, especially diarrhea.
  • Diabetes risk: While raisins may be a healthier snack option than most other sugar-laden processed alternatives, consuming too much of it can lead to weight gain and put one at potential risk of developing diabetes. Over-consumption of anything is bad for health. That is why it is always best to consult a nutritionist to determine the exact amount of raisins to consume, particularly if you have insulin resistance, diabetes or simply want to lose weight.
  • Allergy: Some people may have allergic reactions to raisins. They range from wheezing, breathing problems, diarrhea, and even fever, in some cases. It is thus advisable to consult a doctor if you face any of these symptoms.
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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