Carb Counts and Health Benefits of Raisins

Raisins
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Found in a variety of foods, raisins are one of the most popular and most commonly eaten dried fruits. Like all dried fruit, they're high in sugar simply because they're so concentrated. Think of the size of a grape, and then the size of the raisin it becomes when it's dried. It doesn't take many raisins for the sugar to add up fast, though they have quite a bit more fiber than grapes do, as well as other health benefits. If you want to include these little bursts of energy in a low-carb diet, make sure you keep your portions small.

Carbohydrate, Fiber, and Calorie Counts

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the carbohydrates, fiber, and calories in different serving sizes of dark, seedless raisins include:

  • 1/4 cup (41.25 grams) raisins (packed): Nearly 33 grams effective (net) carbohydrates plus almost 2 grams of fiber and 123 calories.
  • 1 small box (43 grams) raisins (1 1/2 ounces): 34 grams effective (net) carbohydrates plus nearly 2 grams of fiber and 129 calories
  • 1 miniature box (14 grams) raisins (1/2 ounce): 11 grams effective (net) carbohydrates plus 0.6 grams of fiber and 42 calories.

Compare raisins with American-type grapes, which have almost 8 carbs, 0.4 grams of fiber, and 31 calories in a similar serving size of 1/2 cup (46 grams). Red and green grapes of the European type like Thompson seedless have nearly 23 carbs per Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) serving (126 grams), with 1.1 grams of fiber and 87 calories.

In case you're wondering about the carb, calorie, and fiber counts in golden, seedless raisins, it's very similar to that of the dark, seedless raisins: Just over 33 grams effective (net) carbohydrates, 1.4 grams of fiber, and 124 calories in 1/4 cup (41.25 grams) of packed raisins.

With seeded raisins, you get a little bit more bang for your buck. They contain 32 grams of effective (net) carbohydrates), 2.8 grams of fiber, and 122 calories in 1/4 cup (41.25 grams) of packed raisins, so you're getting nearly twice the fiber as the seedless kind for around the same amount of carbs and calories.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

While raisins are high in carbohydrates, their sugar is mostly fructose, which has a lower glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking of how much a food would raise your blood sugar compared with pure glucose, which has a ranking of 100. The actual amount any food raises your blood sugar has to do both with how glycemic it is and how much of it you eat. The glycemic load attempts to combine these concepts, and some diets use the glycemic load for this reason.

Here are the glycemic index and glycemic load values for raisins:

Glycemic Index

  • One study of raisins showed an average glycemic index of 64. This would place raisins above the low GI range (0 to 55).
  • Two other studies found an average GI of 49. Sedentary people and those with prediabetes showed this lower response, while aerobically trained individuals showed a GI of 55. These values place raisins in the low to moderate glycemic index range.

Glycemic Load

  • 1/4 cup seedless raisins (packed): 19
  • 1 small box raisins (1 1/2 ounces): 20
  • 1 miniature box raisins (1/2 ounce): 6
  • 60 grams: 10

Health Benefits

Although grapes lose some of their nutrients during the drying process, raisins are a good source of antioxidant chemicals, including polyphenols and phenolic acids. They are high in dietary fiber and prebiotics such as insulin. Eating raisins has also been shown to potentially lower your risk for heart disease and help improve blood glucose control in diabetics.

A small box of raisins provides 9 percent of your daily needs for potassium and has small amounts of iron, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and calcium. They are an inexpensive and shelf-stable way to include fruit and fiber in your diet.

A 2017 study looked at raisin eaters from the 2001-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to see how eating raisins affected diet quality, weight, and the intake of other nutrients. Those who consumed raisins had a higher quality diet overall, eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than those who didn't eat raisins. The raisin eaters also had lower body weight, lower body mass index (BMI), a lower waist circumference, and were 39 percent less likely to be obese or overweight and had 54 percent less of a risk of metabolic syndrome than those who didn't eat raisins.

Low-Carb Raisin Recipes

If you're looking for some low-carb ways to incorporate raisins into your diet, here are a couple recipes to try:

  • Low-carb trail mix recipeSomething to keep in mind is that all trail mixes are high in calories because that's what they're meant for—a quick burst of energy on a backpacking trip or after another physical activity. If you're going to keep this as an emergency snack in your purse or at your desk, bear in mind that a little goes a long way.
  • Low-carb broccoli salad with turkey bacon recipeHere's the same salty-sweet flavor combination of the classic cold broccoli salad without all the sugar, especially if you use currants in place of the raisins.
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