Before you dig into that slice of gluten-free raisin bread, you may want to reconsider. Sure, the gluten-free part is FODMAP friendly, but what about the raisins? Unfortunately, the news here isn’t great.
Despite what you may read elsewhere, raisins aren’t low FODMAP, even at small serving sizes. Raisins contain both excess fructose and fructans. A one tablespoon serving of raisins contains .33 to .38 grams of excess fructose, which far exceeds published low FODMAP guidelines.
We’re doing a deep dive on raisins in this post. We’ll look at the different types of raisins and dispel a common myth (heads up: black raisins aren’t made from purple grapes). We’ll also go over recommended serving sizes for raisins, which are all over the map. Then, finally, we’ll look at the FODMAP content in raisins.
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Types of Raisins
There are three common types of raisins: dark seedless raisins, golden seedless raisins and currants. In the United States, most raisins are made from Thompson seedless grapes. Thompson seedless is a popular grape, light green in color, that is often sold fresh in grocery stores.
Surprisingly, dark seedless grapes, which range in color from deep purple to black, are actually made from green Thompson grapes. Dark grapes are typically sun-dried and, during that process, end up changing color.1
Golden raisins, sometimes referred to as sultanas, are also made from Thompson grapes. To keep them from changing color during the drying process, the grapes are dried in dehydrators rather than naturally via the sun. The grapes are also treated with sulfur dioxide to give them a bright, golden color.1
Grapes are also used to make currants. These are typically called Zante currants, to distinguish them from other currants, which are berries.2 Zante currants are generally made from Black Corinth grapes and are much smaller in size than other raisins.3
Here we’ll focus mostly on dark and golden raisins, as those are the most popular varieties. Nutritionally, there’s not much difference between the two, though golden raisins have a bit more sugar. Let’s start, though, with a discussion of raisin serving size. This is normally a straight-forward matter, but not so much with raisins.
Raisin Serving Size
If you’ve read much of this site, you know that I focus on normal serving sizes when evaluating foods. Half a cup for fresh fruits and vegetables, 8 ounces for beverages and so forth. The typical serving size for dried fruit, like raisins, is a fourth of a cup. But when I started researching, I found the suggested serving size for raisins is all over the place.
To be sure, some reputable sources, like WebMD,4 stick with the commonly recommended serving size of a quarter cup. Others, like Healthline,5 seem to recommend a raisin serving size of half a cup, which is the suggested amount to achieve the full nutritional benefits of raisins.6
Other sources suggest a raisin serving size of either one ounce7 or one and a half ounces.8 And MSN consulted two “experts” who suggested raisin serving sizes of either 20-30 raisins or one and a half cup of raisins per day.9 However, given the laxative effect of raisins,10 eating one and a half a cups a day is probably a bad idea. Unless you don’t plan to leave your house. Like, ever.
The point here is that there doesn’t seem to be an agreed upon serving size for raisins. Or an agreed upon way of measuring the different serving sizes, since some use standard dry measurements (like tablespoon or cup) and others use ounces.
In this post, I’ve included data for several common serving sizes. In the tables here you’ll find information for raisins at serving sizes of one tablespoon, one ounce, one-fourth cup and one cup.
Now that we’ve looked at common serving sizes of raisins, let’s turn our attention to FODMAPs in raisins. The headline here is that raisins aren’t low FODMAP, even at fairly small serving sizes.
FODMAPs in Raisins
The best documented FODMAP in raisins is excess fructose. Even small servings of raisins exceed low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose. This isn’t a surprise since, as I discuss in this post, grapes are very high in fructose.
Raisins also contain fructans, though there’s less documentation on this. Finally, I ran across some mentions online of raisins containing sorbitol, but wasn’t able to find much evidence to support this.
Excess Fructose in Raisins
Low FODMAP guidelines look at the ratio of glucose to fructose in foods. Foods that have more fructose than glucose are said to have “free fructose” or “excess fructose.” Ideally, a food should have less than .40 grams of excess fructose per serving. However, if another FODMAP is also present in the food, the threshold for excess fructose drops to .15 grams or less per serving.11
Since there’s pretty solid evidence that raisins contain fructans, we’ll use the lower excess fructose threshold. As the following tables show, even small servings of raisins exceed low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose.
Table 1: Fructose in Dark Seedless Raisins
Table 2: Fructose in Golden Seedless Raisins
Despite a slightly lower sugar content, dark seedless raisins exceed low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose at a serving size of one tablespoon. So does one tablespoon of golden seedless raisins, even though the ratio of glucose to fructose is more favorable in regard to FODMAPs.
The truth is, most dried fruit is high in excess fructose due to the concentration of sugar during the drying process. This is why dried fruit appears on my list of high fructose fruits.
Fructans in Raisins
Honestly, raisins aren’t a commonly tested food. While it’s fairly easy to get data on fructose in raisins, it’s much more difficult to find data on other FODMAPs in raisins. However, there does seem to be consensus that, while fresh grapes contain no fructans, raisins do.
One source I found indicates raisins have a fairly low fructan content,12 while another cites a much higher fructan content.13 And at least one reputable source specifically lists raisins as a high fructan food.14
The low FODMAP threshold for fructan content in fruits and vegetables is less than .20 grams per serving, which is fairly low.11 So, if you want to experiment with raisins, you should start with a small serving size. And remember, if you’re sensitive to fructose, in addition to fructans, there’s really no normal serving size that allows raisins to fit within a low FODMAP eating plan.
Sorbitol in Raisins
When researching this post, I ran across a few websites stating raisins contain sorbitol. Like fructans, sorbitol (and polyols in general) aren’t commonly tested. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture doesn’t include polyols in its food composition studies.
I did find two large food composition databases that include polyol content in raisins. The French database, Ciqual, reports that raisins have less than .5 grams of polyols per 100 grams of raisins, which is about 3.5 ounces.15 The Australian Food Composition Database lists both brown raisins and golden raisins as having zero sorbitol content.16
So, there’s debate about whether raisins contains sorbitol. However, if raisins do contain sorbitol, it appears to exist in very small amounts. For example, assuming the Ciqual figure of .5 grams or less per 100 grams is correct, that means one ounce of raisins would have about .05 ounces of total polyols, including sorbitol.
Are Currants Low FODMAP?
Currants are not low FODMAP. While I was unable to find data on fructans or sorbitol in currants, the excess fructose alone qualifies this type of raisin as high FODMAP.
The following table shows glucose, fructose and excess fructose values for dried zante currents at different serving sizes.
Excess Fructose in Zante Currants
Conclusion: Raisins are Not Low FODMAP
Raisins contain excess fructose, as well as fructans. The presence of this second FODMAP means a lower standard of .15 grams per serving for excess fructose is used. Based on this standard, raisins aren’t low FODMAP, even at fairly small serving sizes.
There’s less reliable data on the sorbitol content in raisins. At this point, research on sorbitol in raisins indicates that, if sorbitol is present in raisins, the amount is very small. But, this is something to keep in mind if you’re sensitive to sorbitol.
Unfortunately, most dried fruit exceeds excess fructose guidelines. If you want to include raisins, or other dried fruit, in your diet, it’s probably best to use small servings, like a tablespoon or two stirred into oatmeal or used in trail mix.
Posts Related to “Are Raisins Low FODMAP?”
I linked this earlier, but if you’re interested in learning more about grapes commonly used to make raisins, check out this post on FODMAPs in grapes.
I also mentioned that dried fruit like raisins are typically high in fructose. You can find out more in this post on high fructose fruits.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about fructose in commonly eaten foods, this post on high fructose foods is just for you.
About the Author
Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.
Disclaimer: the author is not a certified medical professional. Opinions expressed and content contained on this website are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Exercise caution and due diligence when using this site and the information contained herein and understand your experiences may vary.