Dehydrated foods are healthier than most food products available at the supermarket. That’s because they are devoid of artificial preservatives, too much sodium, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and others that you do not want to end up in your body.
However, some of them are simply healthier than the rest of their dehydrated counterparts.
Just about any food that you can think of can be dehydrated. But if your goal is to be a healthier and happier version of you, it’s a wonderful idea to dehydrate more of those that are better for you.
Fortunately, there are many healthy dehydrated foods to choose from.
It’s because of this exactly why opting for the dehydrated food diet, which we will talk about in a few, should not leave you feeling discouraged.
With so many options, there is no need to miss having an unhealthy diet that’s packed with junk and fast foods.
If you want to learn not one, not two, but the top 12 healthiest dehydrated foods that you can welcome into your life, don’t stop reading now. But first, this very important matter.
Getting to Know the Dehydrated Food Diet
First things first: refrain from assuming that the dehydrated food diet is one of those craze or fad diets that a lot of people who wish to lose excess pounds without much effort turn to.
The dehydrated food diet may help you get rid of unwanted weight alright. However, it is more focused on making you a fitter and healthier individual.
Especially if you are a health-conscious person who is looking to live a long and happy life, then you may give the dehydrated food diet a try.
Just like what the name suggests, the dehydrated food diet is a diet that consists of dehydrated foods.
According to health experts, you get around 20% of the water your body needs to function from the food you eat. Worry not that you will end up dehydrated if you switch to the dehydrated food diet.
That’s because there are a couple of reasons why it is unlikely for your body’s cells to become parched:
- Dehydrated foods are not completely devoid of moisture. For instance, dehydrated leafy vegetables have about 5% residual moisture. On the other hand, juicy types of fruits have about 25% residual moisture.
- Dehydrated foods can be rehydrated beforehand. They can also be used as alternatives to fresh ingredients. If they are added to soups or stews, they become rehydrated by absorbing available water.
Besides, whether you are on the dehydrated food diet or any other type of diet, the importance of drinking eight glasses (eight-ounce size each) per day cannot be stressed enough!
But if you live where the climate is hot, or you sweat a lot because of your active lifestyle, you should drink more than eight glasses of water per day.
For as long as you drink enough water daily and you rehydrate the majority of the dried foods that you eat, ending up dehydrated should be the least of your worries.
Who can benefit from the dehydrated food diet?
People who want to stay healthy by avoiding artificial preservatives and additives can benefit from the dehydrated diet. It’s also beneficial for those who wish to save money and ensure that there is something to eat during a crisis. People who want to drop excess pounds can benefit from it, too.
Most fruits and vegetables are seasonal. Despite this, many of them are available at supermarkets all year round. It doesn’t take a genius to know that this is made possible by artificial preservatives.
There are many unfavorable things that artificial preservatives can bring.
If you want to ensure that no questionable chemicals will make it past your lips, consider opting to the dehydrated diet where your meals are completely free of anything that can harm your health.
Is dehydrated food safe?
Provided that foods are dehydrated the right way, they are safe to eat. This is especially true for meat that can harbor deadly bacteria. Dried foods should be stored properly, too. They may have an impressive shelf life, but they can still harbor bacteria and mold if incorrectly stored.
Fruits and vegetables can be sliced and put straight into the food dehydrator. Exposure to temperatures of 125°F to 140°F is enough to kill any bacteria present on them.
However, it is a completely different story when it comes to meat.
Before drying it, meat should be first exposed to temperatures of 160°F to 165°F.
This is important in order to kill any deadly bacteria in them. To be safe, it is a good idea to dehydrate meat that is pre-cooked.
Some people use pink curing salt instead to rid meat of harmful bacteria before drying them.
The Healthiest Dehydrated Foods to Add to the Diet
One of the nicest things about food dehydration is that it allows you to dehydrate seasonal fruits and vegetables, thus enabling you to add them to your diet no matter the time of year.
Health experts say that fruits and veggies that are in season are some of the tastiest as well as healthiest.
Whether you are into food dehydration for some time now or you are planning on trying your hands at it, here are 12 of the healthiest dehydrated foods to enjoy:
It only takes 24 to 48 hours for bananas to ripen.
Because of this, it can be easy to end up with overripe bananas on your countertop, which are no longer delightful to look at and eat, too.
Fortunately, overripe bananas make for some of the best ingredients for banana bread.
Worry not if you are not into baking. That’s because you can also dehydrate bananas, including overripe ones.
The nicest thing about dehydrating overripe bananas is that they end up chewy instead of hard.
Especially if you are into exploring the great outdoors and staying healthy at the same time, your backpack should never be without some dried bananas.
Snacking on them will boost and replenish your energy. Thanks to the high fiber content of dried bananas, you can stay regular while hopping from one tourist hotspot to the next.
Speaking of fiber content, it’s for this reason why adding dehydrated bananas to your diet is good for the heart. Fiber helps to lower bad cholesterol levels, cardiologists say.
Dried bananas contain good amounts of potassium, too. Someone who is diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure can benefit so much from the mineral.
There are numerous varieties of apples available. However, a lot of people prefer Red Delicious apples due to their qualities that their name pretty much suggests.
While Red Delicious apples are available all year round, they are at peak season in the early fall, which is when they tend to be the most delicious and nutritious.
Are you one of the many who love Red Delicious apples? Then consider drying them. The perfect time to dehydrate Red Delicious apples is when they are in full season.
Drying Red Delicious apples while they are at peak season allows you to save a lot of money. It’s all about the law of supply and demand — when the supply increases, the price decreases.
What’s more, placing slices of Red Delicious apples in the food dehydrator allows you to snack on them even when they are no longer available in abundance.
By the way, it’s no secret that sliced apples, whether Red Delicious or another variant, turn brown when exposed to the air.
To keep this from happening when dehydrating them, soak them first in lemon juice diluted with equal amounts of cold water.
Allow them to stay there for 10 minutes before placing them in the food dehydrator.
Related Post: Best Dehydrators For Fruits And Vegetables
Later in this article, we will talk about the pros and cons of dehydrating food.
One of the disadvantages that you will come across in a few is that drying can remove some of the nutrients in food. And vitamin C is one of them.
It doesn’t mean, however, that you should no longer dry vitamin C-containing foods, such as oranges. Studies say that up to 80% of vitamin C gets damaged in the food dehydrator.
Needless to say, there’s still some vitamin C left in dried oranges. The amount of vitamin C that you can get from dried oranges increases the more you eat them.
Vitamin C loss can be blamed on exposure to heat and air in the food dehydrator. This is why it is a good idea to keep the drying time to a minimum.
Fortunately, oranges can get dried in as short as 5 hours. To keep the time spent by oranges inside the food dehydrator and the amount of vitamin C damaged minimized, slice them thinly.
Dried oranges usually have a slightly bitter taste. But they still taste great when added to juices, teas and cocktails. They make for excellent garnishes, too. Dried oranges may also be added to potpourri.
All kinds of nutrients make tomatoes some of the healthiest fresh produce on the face of the planet. Some of them are potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A, C and K.
However, there is something in tomatoes that makes the heads of health-conscious people turn toward them.
It’s none other than lycopene. A bright red plant pigment, lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties. Studies say that it can help lower one’s risk of heart disease and cancer, both of which can be deadly.
Are you a beauty-conscious individual?
Then you should add tomatoes to your diet, including dried tomatoes. That’s because its lycopene content can help shield the skin from the sun’s UV rays. It can also protect the skin cells from harmful free radicals, thus slowing down the aging process.
Eating tomatoes raw won’t allow you to enjoy their lycopene content. For the body to absorb lycopene well, tomatoes need to be heated beforehand.
It’s a good thing that placing slices of tomatoes in a food dehydrator exposes them to temperatures high enough to make the lycopene in them easier to absorb by your body.
What makes carrots look bright orange is a pigment called beta carotene. It’s also the one responsible for the beautiful colors of many red and yellow vegetables.
Aside from making carrots appear colorful, beta carotene also makes them healthy. That’s because it has antioxidant properties. What’s more, the body converts it into vitamin A.
There are many health benefits vitamin A offers.
For instance, it can keep the skin healthy and young-looking. The nutrient also helps make the immune system strong, which is of utmost importance these days.
However, no other health perk of vitamin A is as revered as its ability to keep the eye healthy and the vision sharp.
Do you find it hard to see things clearly after the sun has gone down?
Then make it a habit to eat carrots. Its vitamin A is a component of a special type of protein in the eye that allows you to see in low light conditions.
Dehydrated carrots are more versatile than fresh carrots.
That’s because they go really well with all kinds of soups and stews, as well as many side dishes that can be paired with rice.
Dried carrots can also be stir-fried with other vegetables, and used as toppings for omelets, casseroles, and pizza.
According to health experts, having one to seven servings of onions per week may help lower your risk of various cancer types.
Some of them include laryngeal, colorectal, and ovarian cancer. A serving is a medium-sized onion.
Drying onions allows you to extend the shelf life of these very popular culinary and medicinal herbs for 10 to 15 long years!
If you store them the right way, there is no need to fear running out of onions, especially if you love creating culinary masterpieces that call for some onions.
What’s so amazing about dried onions is that you can use them as replacements for fresh onions. But before doing so, they need to be soaked in hot water first for about 15 minutes to rehydrate them.
Do not worry if you are in a rush to serve something hearty on the table. That’s because you may simply place dried onions in soups and stews before the water boils.
It will give them plenty of time to soak water, making them tender by the time that they are served in front of you or someone you love.
One of the most hated vegetables is kale.
That’s a bummer because it is one of the healthiest leafy greens around.
One of the reasons why it is regarded as a superfood is that it’s packed with vitamin K. This nutrient is necessary for the proper clotting of blood and the formation of bone cells.
Adding kale to your diet regularly may help fend off heart disease, too. This is especially true since it can help to lower the levels of bad cholesterol — having high bad cholesterol levels is one of the risk factors for heart disease.
Kale is also packed with antioxidants, which is why it may help prevent all kinds of cancer from coming into being.
Do you hate kale but love the amazing health perks it brings? Then you can welcome it into your life as well as benefit from its intake by getting it dehydrated.
Once dry and crispy, you can season kale with a little sea salt or your favorite herbs or spices and then enjoy it as chips. You may also crush it and use it as topping for soups, stews, and chilis. Dried kale can be rehydrated and stir-fried together with other healthy vegetables.
Another leafy green vegetable that a lot of people do not like to eat is spinach.
But just like kale, it is teeming with all sorts of nutrients, thus allowing it to offer an assortment of health benefits. The good news is that spinach can be eaten in many ways after getting it dried.
Most of the time, dried spinach does not need to be rehydrated. All you have to do is crush and turn it into flakes. You can add it to sandwiches, salads, casseroles, pasta, pizza and many others after which.
What makes spinach one of the healthiest foods to dehydrate is that it contains good amounts of iron.
Your body needs iron for making red blood cells. RBCs for short, are blood components that are tasked with carrying oxygen molecules to the cells. A diet rich in iron can help prevent anemia.
Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which can save you from bleeding excessively. The leafy green has vitamin C, too.
This nutrient is important for keeping the teeth and gums healthy, and the immune system strong.
The bright color of bell peppers is a telltale sign that these fruits (yes, they are classified by botanists as berries!) are packed with antioxidants.
These powerful molecules neutralize excess free radicals and keep cancer at bay.
For best results, go for red bell peppers instead of orange, yellow or green bell peppers.
That’s because they have spent more time in the vine, allowing them to absorb more nutrients from the soil.
As a matter of fact, according to experts, red bell peppers have more than 10 times the antioxidant content of green bell peppers.
Unlike some dried fruits and vegetables, dried bell peppers can be challenging to eat without rehydrating them first.
Luckily, rehydrating them to make them trouble-free to chew and digest is as simple as pouring hot water on them. They should be allowed to soak there for 10 to 15 minutes.
Once rehydrated, bell peppers can be some of the most versatile, healthy and colorful toppings imaginable. To save time, cut them into small squares instead of rings or strips before placing them in the food dehydrator.
If you are on a high-protein diet because you are either trying to bulk up or slim down, you should give dehydrating turkey a try.
That’s because it will allow you to have quick access to a protein-packed and low-calorie snack each time your stomach growls no matter the time of year.
Do you find it hard to get to dreamland at night?
Consider snacking on dehydrated turkey before or after hopping into bed as it can help you fall asleep without trouble. Turkey helps beat insomnia because it is rich in tryptophan.
An amino acid, tryptophan is essential for the production of serotonin and melatonin. Both of them are hormones that help you relax and catch some Z’s.
Just make sure that you cook turkey first before placing it in the food dehydrator.
The goal is to expose it to 165°F to kill any harmful bacteria present. By doing this, you can eat dried turkey even without cooking it beforehand.
And also, remove the skin before you attempt to dry turkey. It’s in the skin where the fat is, and fat can keep meat from drying properly.
Besides, if you are trying to stay in shape, consuming the skin of turkey is a no-no.
One of the reasons why many people dehydrate food at home is to save money. If you want a budget-friendly alternative to turkey as dried meat, then opt for chicken.
Since it is popular all year round, its price does not fluctuate that much. Chicken is nothing like turkey which gets popular only once a year.
Despite being cheaper, chicken is one of the healthiest meat types that you can dehydrate. It is loaded with protein necessary for building muscles and regulating hormone levels.
Chicken can also help lift your mood, thanks to its magnesium and B vitamin content.
Just like turkey, however, you should cook chicken first before drying it in your own kitchen in order to keep your health out of harm’s way.
See to it that it is exposed to at least 165°F so that no deadly bacteria will be around by the time that you place chicken in the food dehydrator.
If you prefer to eat dried chicken as jerky, cut it into strips. If you like to eat it by mixing it with other foods or ingredients, shred it. This should be easy if chicken is cooked well beforehand.
Whether you wish to grow a lot of muscles or shrink your waistline, dehydrating beef can help you have the figure of your dreams.
It doesn’t come as a surprise since it is loaded with protein. This nutrient is vital for building and maintaining muscle mass. Protein also helps speed up the metabolism.
Another thing that makes beef worthy of being placed in your food dehydrator is the fact that it’s a phenomenal source of iron.
If you are told by your doctor that you have anemia or you are at risk of developing it, then including beef in your diet is good for you.
Beef is also a good source of glutathione. It is known as the master antioxidant because it can be found in almost all the cells in your body.
Your body can make its own supply of glutathione. Still, it is a good idea to eat food sources of this powerful antioxidant. Beef, including the dehydrated type, can give you lots of glutathione.
Since it can harbor bad bacteria that can endanger your health, you should cook beef before drying it. Also, remove the fat or opt for lean beef cuts.
Pros of Dehydrated Food
There is no denying that adding dehydrated food to your diet comes with perks.
Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages around, which is why some people are discouraged from welcoming dehydrated food into their lives. If you are currently sitting on the fence, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of dehydrated food.
Let us take a look at some of the top advantages of drying food:
- Makes food available all year round. When properly dehydrated, many foods can last for up to five years. Some of them can last longer, especially if they are stored properly. The extremely long shelf life of dried foods is what makes food dehydration easy on the pocket. It can get rid of the need to take frequent trips to the supermarket as well as throwing away perishable food.
- Frees up precious storage space. Do you live in a small apartment or condominium? Then the importance of using available space wisely is a must. Dehydrated foods are much smaller than their fresh counterparts. Because of this, they do not take up lots of space. Especially if you have a vacuum sealer, running out of storage space should be the least of your concerns.
- Enables packing lightly. Aside from being smaller than usual, dehydrated foods are also lightweight. They won’t weigh you down when hiking, camping out or exploring a foreign city. What’s more, they are not messy and smelly like most snacks that you can pack and take with you. This is why you can stash some of them in your backpack or purse and still have utmost confidence and peace of mind.
- Allows for a healthier diet. Suppose you want to lower your risk of serious health-related problems such as obesity, heart disease and cancer. In that case, it’s a wonderful idea to start dehydrating foods and eating them, too. Especially if you opt for organic fresh produce and meat, you can rest assured that your diet will be free of chemicals that can wreak havoc on your health, such as artificial pesticides.
Cons of Dehydrated Food
Let us now check out some of the disadvantages that dehydrating food comes with:
- Takes up precious time. Earlier, it was mentioned that dehydrated foods take up less space. Unfortunately, they can take up a lot of your time while they are being dried. Some foods can be dehydrated in just four hours. Others require 30 hours or more to dry. It’s a good thing that many food dehydrators these days come with a timer or an auto shut off feature, thus allowing you to engage in other activities.
- Destroys some of the nutrients. Many health-conscious people prefer to eat fruits and vegetables raw. That’s because cooking removes some of the nutrients. Unfortunately, dehydrating can also destroy some nutrients in food, especially vitamins A and C. But the good news is that low temperatures inside a food dehydrator help keep many nutrients intact, including especially those that stovetop and oven cooking damages.
- Requires some adjustment. Dried foods do not look like their fresh counterparts. They don’t taste the same, either. It’s because of this why you may experience some sort of a shock the first time you include dehydrated foods in your diet. Worry not as rehydrating them can help bring them back as close as possible to their previous appearance and taste. But still, you will be able to tell the difference.
- Needs investing at the outset. Before you begin drying foods, you need to get your hands on a food dehydrator first. The cost can range anywhere from $30 to $2,000. It all depends on the size and features. Luckily, after buying a food dehydrator, you can start to enjoy the money-saving perk that comes with drying food in your own kitchen.
If you don’t mind the few disadvantages and you absolutely love the advantages, then you should have no trouble going on the dehydrated food diet or adding dried foods to your diet more often.
After weighing the pros and cons, I hope that you have a better idea of whether or not dehydrating food is for you.
Practically any fruit, vegetable, grain, herbs, spices, and meat can be dehydrated.
With the help of a food dehydrator, you can have a steady supply of them all year round, ready to be enjoyed by you in case you don’t have the time to visit the supermarket or there’s an emergency and stepping foot outside the home isn’t possible.
Dehydrating food is also great if you want to be healthier, lose excess pounds or travel lightly.
It’s true that there are some disadvantages that come with eating dehydrated food. However, there are also advantages that easily outshine the few cons, and anyone can be hard-pressed to overlook them.
Especially if your reason for jumping on the bandwagon of dehydrating food at home is to live a long and happy life, consider adding to your diet some of the healthiest dehydrated foods on the face of the planet, such as the ones that we talked about above.
They are good for you when fresh, and they are better for you when dehydrated.
Related Post: A Beginner’s Guide to Dehydrating Food