Dried fruits serve as a concentrated form of fresh fruits prepared by different drying techniques. In other words, dried fruits possess much lower moisture content as a large proportion of their original water is removed, either naturally through sun-drying or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators.
In the global production of dried fruit, dates rank first, followed by raisins, prunes, apricots, and figs. Fructose and glucose are the main sugars found in most dried fruits. Trace amounts of maltose and galactose are found in some dried fruits. Levels of sugar may differ according to drying methods and regional and varietal factors.
Dried fruits are excellent sources of phenolic compounds. According to several scientific studies natural phenolic compounds seem to play an important role in cancer prevention and cancer treatment. By virtue of their high phytochemical content, dried fruits are an important source of antioxidants in human nutrition. They are also a convenient step toward healthier eating and a means to bridge the gap between the recommended intake of fruits and its actual consumption. Evidence suggests that individuals who regularly consume amounts of natural dried fruits have a lower rate of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic ailments.
Most fresh fruits contain more than 80% water which makes it more susceptible to deterioration. Therefore, preservation techniques such as the removal of water through dehydration are getting more attention from consumers and producers. The demand for dehydrated fruits has risen sharply over the past several years due to improved quality characteristics such as retention of the natural health-promoting compounds, prevention of the growth of microorganisms, and reduction of storage and transportation costs.
Mangoes are one of the most desired tropical fruits in the world. Most mangoes in the world are consumed uncooked as a fresh fruit. The rest is processed into many products that include juice, canned mango, chutneys, pickles and of course: dried mango!
The vast majority of mango species are indigenous and underutilized, but have the potential to be grown commercially.
Mangoes serve as a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, and selenium.
Mangoes are also a rich source of various phenolic acids. The major polyphenols identified in mango pulp are mangiferin, gallic acids (m-digallic and m-trigallic acids), ellagic acid, and ß-glucogallin derivative. Gallic acid has been identified as the major polyphenol present in mango fruit pulp with the highest amount in ripe mangoes as compared with other fruits.
The dried mango fruits are generally stored for periods between 1 and 24 months. The dietary fibres of mangoes are of interest to the food industry because of their health- promoting properties. Dietary fibre of mangoes has been associated with a number of health benefits. Soluble and insoluble dietary fibres are reported to have positive effects in reducing the incidence and severity of gastrointestinal disease and cancer.
Dried mangoes have valuable nutritional, antioxidant, and health-promoting properties comparable to their fresh counterparts. Dried mangoes are of interest to the food industry as a food supplement, including prospective applications as functional food ingredients in cookies, crackers, confectioneries, and low-calorie products.
Pineapples (Ananas comosus) are another highly desirable tropical and subtropical fruit widely cultivated in many places including Hawaii, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, and China.
This plant is indigenous to South America and is by far the most economically important one in the Bromeliaceae family. Pineapples are well known for their nutritive and health-promoting properties. The fruit can be consumed fresh, but unlike mangoes, most of the production of pineapple is used in processing.
Pineapples contain unique fibre components with specific physiological properties including high levels of dietary fibre, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and pectic substances. In dried pineapples, polysaccharides, phenolic substances, and bromelain are important bioactive constituents. Fruit bromelain can be used in various medical applications including prevention of diarrhea, as digestive aids, as antithrombotic, treatment of edema and osteoarthritis, and promotion of absorption of antibiotic drugs, and it also regulates and activates various immune cells and their cytokine production. Existing evidence indicates that bromelain serves as a promising candidate for the development of future oral enzyme therapies for oncology patients*.
*Sun, J., Li, L., You, X., Li, C., Li, Z. and Liao, F. (2013) Phytochemicals and Health Applications of Dried Passion and Pineapple Fruits, in Dried Fruits: Phytochemicals and Health Effects (eds C. Alasalvar and F. Shahidi), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118464663.ch26
The most common commercial products of dried pineapples include dried fruit pieces (chunks, dices or tidbits), dried fruit rings, dried fruit powders, honey-dipped dried fruit slices, sweetened pineapple titbits, chocolate-covered pineapples, chilli-coated dried pineapple, among many others. The major applications of these dried pineapple products are for healthy snacks, breakfast cereals, trail mixes, beverages, pancakes, breads, cookies as well as ingredients in savoury recipes.