Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Are Dried Apricots Bad For You?



Short answer

Dried apricots, when consumed in moderation, are not bad for you. They are nutritious, offering fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium and iron. However, attention should be paid to portion sizes due to their concentrated sugars and calories. Unsulfured varieties are recommended for individuals with sulfite sensitivities. Watching for added sugars or preservatives in certain brands is also advised, as these can increase calorie and sugar intake, impacting overall health.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are a nutritious snack widely loved for their sweetness and chewy texture. Understanding their nutritional value is key to determining their role in a balanced diet. Below, we dive into the typical nutritional components of dried apricots and discuss what makes them a healthy choice for many individuals.

Before we explore the nutritional specifics, it's important to note that dried apricots can vary in nutritional content based on their preparation process. For example, sulfur-dioxide may be added to some brands to preserve color and extend shelf life, which can affect their nutritional profile. Here, we focus on unsulfured, naturally dried apricots.


  • Calories: A serving of dried apricots (about 40 grams or 1/4 cup) typically contains approximately 78 calories. This makes them a relatively low-calorie option for a nutrient-dense snack.
  • Carbohydrates: In the same serving size, there are about 21 grams of carbohydrates, most of which are from natural sugars (15 grams) providing quick energy. They also contain around 2 grams of dietary fiber, contributing to digestive health and satiety.
  • Proteins: Dried apricots have a small amount of protein, roughly 1 gram per serving, making them not a significant source of protein.
  • Fats: These fruits are naturally low in fat, with less than 0.1 grams per serving, including minimal amounts of saturated fats.


Dried apricots are packed with vitamins and minerals, and they are particularly renowned for their high content of the following:

  • Potassium: Essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function, a serving contains about 400 mg of potassium.
  • Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene): Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A, crucial for healthy vision and immune function. A serving delivers about 35% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin A.
  • Iron: Dried apricots are a good source of iron, which is necessary for oxygen transport in the blood. One serving can have about 0.7 mg of iron.
  • Antioxidants: They also contain other antioxidants like flavonoids, which can help fight free radicals in the body.

It's important to remember that the process of drying can cause some nutrient loss compared to fresh apricots, especially concerning vitamin C. However, the drying process does concentrate other nutrients, making dried apricots richer per weight in calories and certain nutrients than their fresh counterparts.

These nutritional elements make dried apricots a potentially beneficial addition to your diet, especially when consumed in moderation and as part of a varied and balanced diet. Always pay attention to the portion sizes, as the concentrated sugars can quickly add up in calories.

For those watching their intake of sugars, even natural sugars, it's crucial to monitor how many dried apricots you're eating. It's also worth considering that individuals with sulfite sensitivities should seek out unsulfured dried apricots to avoid potential negative reactions.

When referencing studies, such as one conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the health benefits of beta-carotene rich foods, such as dried apricots, are significant. These studies have highlighted the role that these foods can play in reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases when incorporated into a regular diet.

To sum up, dried apricots offer a rich array of nutrients beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. Their convenience as a snack and longevity as a pantry item make them an excellent choice for those seeking a nutritious boost throughout their day.

Sulfur Dioxide in Dried Apricots: What You Need to Know

One crucial aspect that often comes into question when considering the health implications of dried apricots is the presence of sulfur dioxide. Understanding what sulfur dioxide is, why it's used in dried apricots, and how it affects different individuals is pivotal to making informed dietary choices.

What is Sulfur Dioxide?
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a chemical compound that is often used as a preservative in a variety of foods, including dried fruits. Its primary role is to prevent spoilage by inhibiting the growth of molds and bacteria and to preserve the vibrant color of the fruit, making it more appealing to consumers. In the case of dried apricots, it helps maintain the bright orange hue that would otherwise darken due to oxidation during the drying process.

Why Is It Used?
Without sulfur dioxide, dried apricots and other dried fruits would have a greatly reduced shelf life. The use of SO2 ensures that the fruit can be transported and stored for longer periods, keeping it viable in markets where fresh produce may not be consistently available. Additionally, it prevents the loss of certain vitamins during storage, contributing to the nutritional retention of the dried fruit.

Potential Health Implications
While sulfur dioxide is recognized as safe for consumption by many health authorities, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), it can cause problems for certain individuals, particularly those who have a sensitivity to sulfites, which are compounds that include sulfur dioxide. People who are sulfite-sensitive may experience allergic reactions, ranging from mild to severe, including hives, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and in rare cases, anaphylaxis.

It is estimated that about 1% of the general population has some degree of sulfite sensitivity, with asthmatics being at a particularly higher risk. Regular intake of sulfur dioxide in individuals who are sensitive can lead to chronic respiratory problems and other allergic reactions.

Regulations and Labeling
Due to the potential health concerns, there are strict regulations regarding the use of sulfur dioxide in foods. In the United States and other countries, foods containing this preservative must clearly state so on the label. Individuals with sulfite sensitivity or those looking to avoid SO2 for personal health reasons should look for labels that indicate "sulfite-free" or "unsulfured" when selecting dried apricots and other dried fruits.

Natural Alternatives
For health-conscious consumers looking for natural alternatives, there are unsulfured dried apricots available on the market. These apricots are typically darker in color and have a slightly different flavor profile. While they may not have the vibrant orange color preserved by sulfur dioxide, they offer a good option for those who wish to avoid sulfites or prefer a product closer to its natural state.

In conclusion, while sulfur dioxide plays a beneficial role in preserving the shelf life and appearance of dried apricots, it may not be suitable for everyone. Considering current scientific understanding and consumer health, it's important to be aware of your individual dietary needs and sensitivities when choosing dried fruits. For those with concerns about sulfur dioxide, seeking out unsulfured dried apricots can be a practical choice that aligns with dietary preferences and restrictions.

Natural vs. Artificially Sweetened Dried Apricots

When contemplating the health impact of dried apricots, it's imperative to distinguish between naturally dried and artificially sweetened varieties. Understanding this distinction is pivotal in making informed dietary choices.

Naturally Dried Apricots

Naturally dried apricots are usually sun-dried or may be dried using dehydrators without added sugars or preservatives. This method retains most of the fruit's original nutrients without introducing additives. They are known for their darker color and are not as bright orange as sulfured apricots because they haven't been treated with sulfur dioxide, which preserves color and extends shelf life.

Nutrient-wise, naturally dried apricots are a powerhouse. They provide dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, vitamins A and C for immune support, and potassium for maintaining electrolyte balance. Here’s a quick nutritional comparison:

  • Fiber: Helps regulate bowel movements and maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin A: Essential for healthy vision and skin.
  • Potassium: Necessary for heart function and muscle contractions.
  • Iron: Important for oxygen transport in the blood.
  • Antioxidants: The drying process can increase the concentration of certain antioxidants, such as polyphenols.

Artificially Sweetened Dried Apricots

Conversely, artificially sweetened dried apricots are often infused with added sugars and preservatives to enhance flavor and appearance. These additives can significantly increase the calorie content and decrease the healthfulness of the fruit. For individuals monitoring their sugar intake, such as those with diabetes, it's particularly essential to be cautious of these varieties.

Artificial sweeteners and preservatives may affect the body differently than natural sugars found in fruit. Consumption of excessive added sugars has been linked to various negative health outcomes, including increased risk for obesity, heart disease, and tooth decay. It is recommended by health guidelines to limit added sugars in the diet.

Key differences between natural and artificially sweetened dried apricots include:

Nutritional Aspect Naturally Dried Apricots Artificially Sweetened Dried Apricots
Calories Typically lower Higher due to added sugars
Sugar Content Contains natural fructose High in added sugars
Fiber Retains much of the original fiber Content may be the same, but overshadowed by added sugars
Additives No artificial additives May contain sulfites or other preservatives
Nutrient Density High in nutrients per calorie Reduced nutrient density

In conclusion, when choosing between natural and artificially sweetened dried apricots, the natural variety typically offers more nutritional benefits and fewer health risks. It is essential to scrutinize product labels to discern which type of dried apricot you're consuming. If managing added sugar intake is a concern, opt for the naturally dried version to leverage the health benefits that apricots can provide.

As always, moderation is key, and consulting with healthcare providers is advised for personalized dietary guidance, particularly for those with health conditions impacted by sugar and preservative intake.

Dried Apricots and Glycemic Index: Blood Sugar Concerns

When it comes to managing blood sugar, understanding the glycemic index (GI) of foods is essential. The GI is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and cause a more immediate spike in blood sugar levels, while foods with a low GI have a slower digestion and absorption rate, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar.

Dried apricots have a favorable glycemic index, typically ranging from 30 to 40, which is considered low. This means that when consumed in moderation, dried apricots should not cause significant spikes in blood sugar levels, making them a safer option for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their glycemic load.

However, glycemic response can vary from person to person, and even within the same individual, based on several factors such as the ripeness of the fruit when dried, the processing method, and what other foods are consumed at the same time. To put it simply, if dried apricots are eaten alongside foods that are high in fiber, protein, or fat, the overall glycemic response can be minimized.

  • Portion Control: It is essential to practice portion control with dried apricots. Because the water is removed during the drying process, dried apricots are a concentrated source of natural sugars and calories. A smaller quantity can lead to overconsumption if one is not careful.
  • Whole Apricots vs. Dried: The drying process does not significantly alter the sugar content of the fruit itself, but it does reduce the fruit's volume. That means that while a single fresh apricot may have a similar amount of sugar as a serving of dried ones, you are likely to eat more pieces when they are dried, inadvertently consuming more sugar and calories.
  • Nutritional Considerations: Despite their sugar content, dried apricots provide a variety of nutrients including dietary fiber, vitamins A and E, and minerals such as potassium and iron. Fiber, in particular, helps mitigate blood sugar spikes by slowing the rate of digestion and absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • Choosing Wisely: When selecting dried apricots, it's advisable to look for brands that do not add any extra sugar or preservatives, as these can increase the glycemic load. Sulphured apricots, treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve color and extend shelf life, may have a different GI than unsulphured, organic varieties.
  • Personal Monitoring: For those concerned about blood sugar levels, it's always prudent to monitor personal responses to consuming dried apricots by checking blood glucose levels before and after consumption.

In summary, while dried apricots have a low glycemic index and can fit into a balanced diet, attention must be given to portion sizes, potential added sugars, and individual glycemic responses. Including them as part of a meal with other macronutrients and opting for natural, unsweetened varieties is a recommendable approach for those monitoring their blood sugar levels.

A Balanced Diet: Incorporating Dried Apricots Moderately

When contemplating the impact of dried apricots on our health, it's vital to recognize their role within the context of a balanced diet. Like many dried fruits, apricots offer a convenient way to increase nutrient intake, but their consumption should be attentive to quantity and frequency.

Nutritional Profile of Dried Apricots:

  • Fiber: A serving of dried apricots provides a good amount of dietary fiber, which aids digestion and can help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Vitamins: Rich in vitamins A and E, dried apricots support vision and skin health and provide antioxidant properties.
  • Minerals: They are a source of important minerals such as potassium and iron. Potassium supports heart health, while iron is crucial for oxygen transport in the blood.

However, consuming dried apricots in moderation is key due to their high sugar content and calorie density compared to their fresh counterparts. Overconsumption can lead to unwanted weight gain and potentially spike blood sugar levels, which is particularly concerning for individuals with insulin resistance or diabetes.

Guidelines for Moderate Consumption:

  1. One should limit their portion to around 30-40 grams (about 4-5 dried apricots) to avoid excessive calorie and sugar intake.
  2. Including dried apricots as part of a meal can help slow the absorption of sugars due to the presence of protein and fats from other foods.
  3. Eating dried apricots with nuts or cheese can provide a balanced snack, pairing the apricots' natural sugars with healthy fats and proteins.

According to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding dried fruit to diets supports health without leading to weight gain when eaten in recommended amounts. Thus, when incorporated into one's diet with mindful portions, dried apricots can contribute to nutritional diversity and health benefits.

Individuals with dietary restrictions or health concerns such as kidney problems should be aware of the higher potassium content in dried apricots. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a dietitian is advisable to tailor their dietary patterns appropriately.

Also noteworthy is the type of dried apricots available in the market. Opting for ones without added sugars or preservatives ensures you're benefiting from the natural qualities of the fruit without unnecessary additives that could detract from its healthfulness.

In sum, dried apricots can be an excellent addition to a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. By being mindful of portion sizes and frequency of consumption, one can enjoy the taste and health benefits of dried apricots without compromising dietary goals.

Frequently asked questions

Dried apricots undergo nutrient loss during the drying process, especially concerning vitamin C. Therefore, they are not a significant source of vitamin C compared to their fresh counterparts.

Both unsulfured and sulfured dried apricots are nutritious, however, unsulfured ones are a better option for individuals with sulfite sensitivities and those who prefer food in its more natural state without chemical preservatives.

Yes, dried apricots are naturally low in fat, with less than 0.1 grams per serving, making them a suitable snack for those on a low-fat diet.

Dried apricots contain antioxidants like flavonoids and beta-carotene, which help fight free radicals in the body, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting immune function.

Ask a question about Dried Apricots and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • possible allergic reactions
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea

Possible long-term side effects

  • chronic respiratory problems
  • weight gain
  • increased risk for obesity, heart disease
  • tooth decay

Ingredients to be aware of

  • sulfur dioxide
  • added sugars


  • nutrient-dense
  • digestive health
  • heart function
  • healthy vision
  • immune support
  • oxygen transport
  • antioxidant properties

Healthier alternatives

  • unsulfured dried apricots
  • naturally dried apricots

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Sun Dried Apricots

  • Unsulfured & unsweetened
  • No added sugar
  • Organic & Non-GMO
  • Convenient resealable pack
  • Ideal for snacking
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-17-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-17-2024

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