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How healthy are decaf green tea and dried fruits?

Asked by Mathew Sampson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Is decaffeinated green tea as healthy as regular green tea? Are plums as healthy as prunes? Are fresh cranberries as healthy as dried cranberries? The "buzz" in the media is that green tea, prunes and cranberries are all extremely healthy foods. But, what if the caffeinated green tea keeps you up all night and you're not a fan of dried fruits?

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Diet and Fitness Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis Physician Nutrition Specialist

Expert answer:

Hi Matthew -- This is an excellent question and brings up an important point. While it seems like every week there is a new "must eat" food or drink, there are lots of nutrient rich foods that can be incorporated into a healthy diet based on your food and drink preferences. In addition, getting a variety of healthy foods is even more important than consuming the latest products generating media "buzz."

In general, I'm not a big fan of dried fruit either as dried fruit is much more calorically dense than fresh fruit because of its significantly lower water content. And with the obesity epidemic in this country, keeping calories under control is just as important as choosing healthier foods. Fresh fruit is just as healthy as dried fruit and you don't have to worry about added sugar, fat or portion sizes, which must be more closely controlled when it comes to dried fruit. And if you don't like cranberries, my colleague, Wendy Bazilian, who has a doctorate in Public Health and Nutrition, is a registered dietitian, and author of "The SuperFoods Rx Diet," is quick to point out that for urinary tract health, blueberries may work just as well as cranberries. For heart health, all deeply colored berries, cherries and even grapes are rich in disease fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants.

When it comes to green tea, which is an excellent source of disease-fighting phytonutrients known as catechins, the decaffeinating process may reduce some, but not all of the health benefits. However, the negative health impact of sleep deprivation far outweighs the health benefits of green tea so I would certainly recommend sticking to decaffeinated green tea if caffeine impacts your sleep.

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