RAISIN – FAR MORE THAN A DRIED
The word raisin dates back to Middle English and is a loanword from Old French; raisin means “grape,” while, in French, a dried grape is referred to as a raisin sec, or “dry grape.” The Old French word in turn was developed from the Latin word racemus, “a bunch of grapes.”
Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used. Seedless varieties include the Sultana (also known as “Thompson Seedless” in the USA) and Flame. Raisins are typically sun-dried, but may also be “water-dipped,” or dehydrated. “Golden raisins” are made from Sultanas, treated with Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) , and flame dried to give them their characteristic color.
Due to the high sugar content in raisins, they don’t need preservatives to keep them fresh. Also, raisins will keep their flavor, color and nutritional value for up to 15 months when stored between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Store your raisins in an airtight container to keep them fresh, soft and free from humidity that can cause the fruit sugar to crystallize on the raisins’ skin. Also, store your raisins away from brick and concrete walls where they can absorb moisture.
The raisin was discovered accidentally, many years before Christ. People ate grapes but did not know that if they were to dry the grape, it would become this useful and delicious dried fruit called the raisin.
Historians claim that the Phoenicians and Armenians were the first nations to produce raisins. Phoenicians established vineyards in Spain and Greece that were fitting for cultivating raisins and the Armenians established their vineyards in Iran, Turkey and Iraq. The Greeks and Romans had a high demand for raisins and then other countries started to use raisins as well.
Raisins are nature’s original candy – and one of the world’s most nutritious dried fruits.
Constipation: When ingested, raisins swell as the fiber present in them in dried form absorbs water. This helps giving relief in constipation.
Weight Gain: Raisins, like all dry fruits, are very good for gaining weight, as they are full of fructose and glucose and give a lot of energy. This is further boosted due to presence of many vitamins, amino acids and minerals which facilitate absorption of other nutrients and proteins in the body.
Acidosis: Raisins are good source of potassium and magnesium (two of the most popular constituents of antacids, being basic in nature) both of which are very effective in reducing acidity. They neutralize the acids and thus help check acidosis.
Anemia: Raisins contain considerable amount of iron which directly helps treating anemia. It also contains many members of vitamin-B complex which are essential for the formation of blood. Copper in them also help formation of red blood cells.
Bone Health: While calcium, which is the main constituent of bones, is present in raisins, it is one of the best sources of Boron, a micro nutrient (a nutrient required by the body in very small amount as compared to other nutrients) which is very necessary for proper bone formation and absorption of calcium
Eye Care: Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients which have anti oxidant properties which are very good for ocular health, as they protect eyes from damages caused by free radicals (oxidants), such as macular degeneration, age related weakening of vision, cataract etc. In addition, raisins contain very good amount of vitamin-A, beta carotene and carotenoid, all of which are essential for a good ocular health.
Dental Care: Oleanolic Acid, one of the phytochemicals present in raisins, plays a crucial role in protecting teeth against tooth decay, cavities, brittleness of teeth etc. It effectively prevents growth of Streptococcus Mutans and PorphyromonasGingivalis, two of the species of bacteria which are most responsible for cavities and other dental problems.