Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing.
Since ancient times, raisins have been valued as a form of preserving grapes so they would last through the winter months and could be more easily stored and transported. 28 Grapes were considered to be a nutritious and healthful food and raisins a good source of energy because of their high sugar content. Sun drying was seen as a natural way to produce raisins that not only gave them a particular intense flavor, but also maintained the delicate balance of nutrients of the original fruit. Some saw this age old process as an extension of the natural ripening cycle of the grape. Indeed, it is almost certain that raisins and grapes occurred naturally before men intended to cultivate them.
The term “raisin” dates back to its use in Middle English, having been borrowed from Old French. In French, the word raisin actually refers to fresh grapes, whereas raisin sec, literally Translating to “dry grape” refers to the raisin. The French word itself comes from the Latin term Racemes, meaning a bunch of grapes.
Raisins range from about 67% to 72% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose and glucose. They also contain about 3% protein and 3.5% dietary fiber. Raisins, like prunes and apricots, are also high in certain antioxidants. As with all dried fruits, raisins have a very low vitamin C content. Raisins are low in sodium and contain no cholesterol.  New research has shown, despite having a high concentration of sugars, raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.
Sugars Raisins are sweet due to their high concentration of sugars (about 30 g of fructose and 28 g of glucose in 100 g of raisins). The sugars can crystallize inside the fruit when stored after a long period, making the dry raisins gritty, but that does not affect their usability. These sugar grains can be dissolved by blanching the fruit in hot water or other liquids.
The health and nutritional benefits of sun-dried raisins range from the classic nutrients - such as natural sugars and potassium - to newly discovered antioxidant factors, factors which have found an important place in medicine and nutrition only in the last twenty years.
The natural sugar of raisins are a great source of energy and comes packaged together with fiber and other nutrients.
Many studies have shown the importance of diets with an adequate intake of potassium to help maintain normal blood pressure. Since raisins are high in potassium and low in sodium this makes them an ideal part of a heart healthy diet.
The fiber in raisins, combined with other food from plants high in fiber, helps to regulate intestinal function and proper elimination. Raisins like grapes are one of the few fruits that contain a reasonable level of tartaric acid that works together with fiber to help proper elimination and help keep the colon healthy.
The phenolic compounds in raisins are powerful, protective antioxidants. These compounds are one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables are considered protective against heart disease and cancer, including quercetin, a powerful antioxidant.
When hungry for a snack reach for a handy packet of raisins for a natural satisfying snack. In a recent weight loss class people found that a few raisins would satisfy their hunger and prevent overeating.
Raisins have been successfully used as part of diets to lower blood cholesterol and prevent its damaging oxidation.
Raisins are made by dehydrating grapes in a process using the heat of the sun or a mechanical process of oven drying. Among the most popular types of raisins are Sultana, Malaga, Monukka, Zante Currant, Muscat and Thompson seedless. The size of small pebbles, raisins have wrinkled skins surrounding chewy flesh that tastes like a burst of sugary sweetness. While the colors of raisins vary, they are generally a deep brown color, oftentimes with hints of a purple hue.
Raisins have been the object of phytonutrient research primarily for their unique phenol content, but these delicious dried grapes are also one of the top sources of the trace mineral, boron, in the U.S. diet.
Antioxidant Protection from Phenols
The phenols found in fruit have repeatedly been show to have antioxidant activity and to help prevent oxygen - based damage to cells in the body. The total antioxidant activity of many fruits and vegetables has been found to be exactly parallel to their total phenol content, and raisins take their place in this list right alongside prunes and apricots as an antioxidant - rich fruit. The flavonols (one type of phenol belonging to the flavonoid family) in raisins appear to be least affected by the grape-drying process, but raisins do contain fewer phenols than grapes since many of grape’s phenols are largely lost in the conversion of grapes to raisins. These phenols include the hydroxycinnamics (caftaric and coutaric acids), procyanidins, and flavan - 3 - ols.
Boron for Better Bone Health
Although not often spotlighted in public health recommendations, boron is a mineral that is critical to our health, and has been of special interest in women in relationship to bone health and osteoporosis (bone softening). Boron is a trace mineral required to convert estrogen and vitamin D to their most active forms (17-beta-estradiol and 1,25 - (OH) 2D3 respectively). Estrogen levels drop after menopause causing osteoclasts to become more sensitive to parathyroid hormone, which signals them to break down bone. Studies have shown that boron provides protection against osteoporosis and reproduces many of the positive effects of estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women. Raisins are among the top 50 contributors to total dietary boron in the U.S. diet.