Dried fruits, an ancient superfood rediscovered

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Caloric and beneficial, nuts score +10%. But imports are also growing

Consumption of dried fruits is growing. During 2017, sales of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts increased by 10 percent, taking the sector over the billion euro turnover mark. A further indication of the healthy trend driving Italians’ food purchases.

According to Coldiretti (which compiled data on Ismea statistics), dried fruit consumption has doubled over the past decade, reaching 3 kg per capita per year. And marking the overcoming of prejudices that have penalized it for its substantial caloric intake, in spite of its proven health benefits.

Dried fruits, ancient
superfood


A star ingredient in many typical Italian recipes, dried fruits are known to be rich in beneficial substances, even with consumption of 20 grams a day. A true superfood. As Coldiretti recalls, thee walnuts and hazelnuts are rich in antioxidants, fatty acids that are good for cholesterol, minerals, and vitamin E. Almonds are useful for keeping skin, hair, and nails strong and healthy and for strengthening the immune system. Pistachios contain lots of fiber, iron minerals and vitamins (group A and group B), while pine nuts are a source of zinc, potassium and vitamin B12.

Scientific literature since the 1990s has repeatedly established the relationship between theoccurrence of cardiovascular disease and the consumption of nuts customary in the Mediterranean diet.

Competition from imported dried fruits

Italy’s dried fruit production amounts to about 300 thousand tons per year. Much more comes from abroad. Last year, imports exceeded 900 million euros in value, the farmers’ association estimates. Which recalls its own earlier analysis (based on the European Rapid Alert System, RASFF) that foreign nuts – made in the US, Iran, Turkey and China – are often the subject of ‘food hazard alerts due to chemical residues, mycotoxins, heavy metals, microbiological pollutants, dioxins or additives and dyes.’

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".