Raisin D’être

My sister and I have disagreed about many important things in life.

  • Peanut butter: creamy or crunchy? (My sister: “Of course creamy. Butter doesn’t come with chunks of cow in it.” Me: “Mmm but it should.”)
  • Empire Records’ emo heart-throb A.J. or lovable goofball Mark? (Let’s just say I married an Ethan Embry lookalike on purpose.)
  • Best ninja turtle to walk down the aisle with: Leonardo or Michelangelo? (Adult realization: We were both wrong. Turns out nerd-boy Donatello and his Silicon Valley-aspirations made him the real catch.)

But this past week, a startling new difference between sisters became shockingly apparent: I think raisins are healthy, and she vehemently disagrees.

The goods.

Raisins — the dried version of grapes and also a California-based musical act — have become my go-to afternoon snack when I need a sweet little pick-me-up. They’re delicious, they’re portion-controlled, they pack a lot of fiber and they’re undoubtedly better for me than the bulk-food candy offerings my company wheels out every day at 2 p.m. to wreak havoc on my blood sugar levels.

I’m only human!

I eat them straight, or I mix them into oatmeal, or I sprinkle them on celery stalks slathered in nut butter — heck, I’ve even carried them as natural fuel on some 15-mile long runs — but no matter how I’m imbibing, I’m probably eating raisins at least 6 out of 7 days a week. And I thought that was a good thing.

After all, they’re nature’s candy!

I told my sister about my increased raisin consumption as I tried to wean myself off my daily chocolate habit, and she — while supportive — was pretty convinced I was just trading one sugar fix for another.

And maybe she has good reason. Dried fruit is notoriously high in calories but low in the hydrating water content that helps give other fruit a reprieve. And raisins don’t start as some super-food produce either — they’re made from grapes, the one fruit Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist who runs a weight management clinic for children and families at the University of California, told the NYTimes he suggests his patients avoid.

“Grapes are just little bags of sugar,” he said in an interview that, let’s be honest, broke my grape-loving heart.

It didn’t, however, break my grape-loving habit, and I’m still eating grapes, raisins and — fine, wine — with abandon.

Because what’s March without soda muffins?!

So who’s right, here? Are raisins essentially sugar bombs in disguise, or did I make a smart swap replacing my afternoon candy binge with that sun-made goodness?


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