Raise your hand if you’ve ever guzzled handfuls of dried cranberries in the middle of the afternoon. You think you’ve made a good decision--c'mon, fruit is so much better for you than, like, a candy bar. But are you terribly misguided? Well, yes…and no.
Why it’s not great: Dried fruit is essentially fresh fruit with all the water sucked out. Removing fruit’s water content shrinks the size of each piece considerably, meaning it takes much more dried fruit to equal the volume of its fresh fruit counterpart. (Think about it: You can fit more raisins into one cup than you can grapes.) So it’s not that dried fruit develops more sugar when it’s dehydrated; it’s just that one cup of raisins will have more sugar than one cup of grapes because there are more raisins in the cup. Ditto for calories and carbs.
Why it’s not terrible: Look, it’s still a healthy option compared with potato chips and chocolate cookies. Plus, the added calories and fiber can give you an energy boost, if that’s what your body needs. (There’s a reason athletes often grab it on the go.) In short, as long as you modify your portions--the recommended serving size is about a quarter cup--and go for options with no added sugars, you’ll be in pretty good shape.