You’ve heard about how dried fruits are great for your health and how they can prevent you from landing up at the hospital. But is everything really that hunky dory? As it turns out, the ingredient added to dried fruits to make them last longer could actually be dangerous, especially for asthma patients.
To prevent dried fruits from decay and oxidation, they are added with high levels of sulfite during processing and drying. Here’s how the sulfite in dried fruits could prove dangerous.1
Sulfites In Dried Fruits Can Trigger Asthma
The sulfite ingested when you eat dried fruits can block the respiratory tract, causing a series of allergic reactions. If you or your child is affected by asthma, it’s wise to keep the bowl of dried fruits away. Asthma patients are at a high risk of developing an allergic reaction to sulfite. In fact, 3–10% of asthma patients are sensitive to sulfite. The severity of the reaction varies from one person to another, with asthmatic children and those with marked airway hyperresponsiveness (thickening of the airway walls) being at the highest risk.2
To Sulfite Could Cause Severe Allergic Reactions
If you eat dried fruits containing sulfite, your allergic reaction could range from mild to life-threatening. Although highly rare, sulfites are known to cause death due to suffocation or asphyxiation. On the milder side, the exposure to sulfites can cause dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), urticaria (red welts on the skin), flushing, hypotension (low blood pressure), abdominal pain, and diarrhea.3
All Dried Fruits Contain Sulfites
Knowing they are such an important part of processed dried fruits, you’d think that sulfites are irreplaceable. But that is not true. You can always go organic. Organic dried fruits often use Vitamin C as a substitute for sulfite. And as we already know, vitamin C acts a natural preservative. To ensure that your dried fruit box does not contain sulfite, always check the label. But remember that organic dried fruit won’t last as long as the processed ones, even if they contain natural preservatives.
Removal Of Sulfite From Dried Fruits
If you don’t have access to organic dried fruits, there’s a way to remove the sulfite from processed dried fruits. However, this method might reduce the taste, flavor, and texture of the dried fruits.
- Add 1 spoon of lemon juice to half a cup of of water
- Soak the dried fruits in the lemon water solution for an hour.
- Remove the dried fruits from the solution and rinse thoroughly.
- Let the dried fruits “breathe” for another hour before they’re ready to eat.
There isn’t any scientific backing to this method, but several people have observed that they didn’t develop their usual allergic reactions after eating the lemon-juice-soaked dried fruits. If you find that allergic symptoms persist even after removing the sulfite, it’s best to stay from dried fruits entirely.
Other Foods That Contain Sulfite
Now that you know the pitfalls of sulfite in dried fruits, you’ll be surprised to know that sulfites are more common a preservative than you would like. Dried fruits indeed have the highest concentration, but sulfites are also present in other foods, such as jams, juices, and purees. Apricot puree is a common ingredient in baby food, so the exposure to sulfites through dried fruits begins rather early in life. Indeed, sulfites may be responsible for the unexplained symptoms of allergy you have once in a while.
|↑1||Lou, Tiantian, Weisu Huang, Xiaodan Wu, Mengmeng Wang, Liying Zhou, Baiyi Lu, Lufei Zheng, and Yinzhou Hu. “Monitoring, exposure and risk assessment of sulfur dioxide residues in fresh or dried fruits and vegetables in China.” Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A (2017): 1-10.|
|↑2, ↑3||Vally, Hassan, and Neil LA Misso. “Adverse reactions to the sulphite additives.” Gastroenterology and hepatology from bed to bench 5, no. 1 (2012): 16.|