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Are Raisins Healthy?

Whether you're looking for an easy-to-pack school snack or a healthy addition to your family's morning oatmeal, raisins are a suitable place to start. Because they're just dried fruit – and, unlike many other dried fruits, don't generally have added sweeteners – they're a nutritious addition to your diet. Raisins also supply a few essential nutrients that will benefit you and your kids.

The Nutrition Basics

While raisins are healthy, they're also moderately high in calories. Each quarter-cup serving of raisins has between 110 and 125 calories, depending on the variety you get. Most of those calories come from the raisins' natural sugars, which supply you (and your little ones) with energy to get through the day. You'll also get a very small amount of protein, about 1 gram per serving, but virtually no fat.

Iron for Energy

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The main health benefit of eating raisins is their iron content. Your body uses iron to make a compound called hemoglobin, a protein found in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your cells and tissues. Iron is important for keeping your energy levels up – since your tissues need oxygen to make energy – and it's also beneficial for your immune system. A serving of raisins has about 0.7 milligrams of iron. That's between 7 and 10 percent of the daily iron needs for children, and about 4 percent of the daily needs for women.

Other Nutrients in Raisins

While iron is the most abundant essential nutrients in raisins, your kids will also get small amounts of other nutrients. Raisins are a moderate source of potassium, a mineral important for strong muscles and healthy nerve function. Your kids will also get numerous B-complex vitamins – including niacin for healthy nerves – to support their metabolism. Raisins also supply a small amount of calcium for healthy bones.

Serving Raisins the Healthy Way

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When you're shopping for raisins, ensure you're getting a plain unsweetened variety – most raisins are unsweetened, but it never hurts to make sure. Add them to your child's hot or cold cereal, add raisins to chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, or use them – along with celery and all-natural peanut butter – to make "ants on a log." If your child has a more adventurous palate, try introducing them to more complex dishes featuring raisins, like a spiced Moroccan raisin couscous.