Are Raisins a Nutritious Snack Option?

Boy pouring raisins into bowl of muesli mixture, 4 years

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Raisins are a very common snack for children. There is good reason for this—they are easy to pack and do not require refrigeration. They are also easy for little hands to feed themselves. They do not require refrigeration or preparation and they are sweet, chewy and loved by many kids.

Remember, though, that deciding what snacks to offer children is really a personal decision. A child's taste and texture preferences, developmental needs, and food access are among some of the things that factor in when deciding what snacks might be regulars around your house. Here is what you need to know about raisins.

The Facts About Cavities

When it comes to raisins, it is not uncommon to hear that frequent snacking on these little morsels is associated with cavities. But is this actually true? According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, by the time children reach age 11, over 40% already have one or more cavities in their primary (baby) teeth. Eating raisins isn't the only or main cause of these cavities. More significant risk factors include:

  • Drinking milk, juice, or other sweet beverages from a bottle or cup for long periods of time
  • Not brushing thoroughly
  • Not visiting a dentist regularly

There is no actual research that shows that cavities are more common in kids who eat raisins. Instead, brushing and visiting the dentist consistently are key.

Pros

When it comes to reviewing the nutrients in raisins, it is important to remember that nutrients are not the only aspect of a food that makes it a good choice.

Enjoyment of the food is so important. Even the most nutrient-packed food out there wouldn't be a healthful choice for a child if they do not enjoy the experience of eating it. As for the nutrition facts about raisins, a few key nutrients stand out. These include:

  • A good source of iron and have some calcium
  • A good source of potassium
  • Fairly high in fiber (2 g per serving), which is good if your child has constipation

Interestingly, regarding tooth health, some research has concluded that raisins have antibacterial properties that actually prevent cavities. A review of the literature in a 2013 issue of the Journal of Food Science suggests that raisins may not be as cariogenic (causing cavities) as once thought, and may contain antibacterial properties that can reduce oral bacteria that contribute to dental diseases.

Although raisins are sweet and sticky, research implies that they do not stick to the teeth long enough to promote the formation of cavities. More studies are needed to validate these theories.

Cons

Since raisins have so many things going for them, why would you avoid offering them to your children? If your child does not like them, there are other dried fruit options that provide similar nutrient profiles. Otherwise, there are not not many cons to raisins.

It is important to note that according to the American Dental Association (ADA), sticky foods like dried fruit, including raisins, can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If your children eat raisins and other dried fruits frequently, the ADA advises rinsing their mouths with water after eating them and to brush and floss carefully to remove any raisin residue.

A Word From Verywell

Raisins are a child- and parent-friendly option that is delicious and nutritious. And because they taste so good and are easy to eat, they make a great snack. Raisins are a sticky food, so it is important to err on the side of caution and take care of your child's teeth when they eat raisins.

In addition to your regular routine of dental care each morning and at bedtime, you might want brush and floss your child's teeth or have them rinse with water after eating raisins, especially if you often find small pieces of raisins leftover in between their teeth.

If you are concerned, talk to your child's dentist for their advice. Certain children are more prone to cavities than others, and in some cases, they may have additional advice for these children.

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3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dental caries (tooth decay) in children age 2 to 11. Updated July 2018.

  2. Painter J, Waters, A. A review of the health benefits of raisins. Journal of Food Science. 21 June 2013. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.12139

  3. American Dental Association. Mouth healthy: Top 9 foods that damage your teeth.

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