Raisins and Blood Pressure?

Those shriveled grapes otherwise known as raisins don’t usually get much attention from nutritionists giving dietary advice to patients with high blood pressure.  But that might change one day.  A recent study of 46, mildly hypertensive adults reported that eating a 90 kcal pack of raisins 3 times each day significantly lowered systolic blood pressure compared to snacking on cookies or crackers.  Although raisins contain fruit sugars, they are also rich in antioxidants and fiber, which may explain some of their possible health benefits.  Interestingly, researchers at the University of Illinois have also reported that some of the compounds in raisins may actually slow bacteria that cause tooth decay.  Click here to learn more.

Want an easy-t0-make snack for picnics and parades this weekend? Here is a yummy treat bursting with raisins and fruit.  I make granola bars a lot and sometimes switch to trail mix in the summer when I don’t feel like heating up the oven.  This is the best of both worlds – a no-bake, granola-bar version of trail mix.  It keeps well in the fridge or in my bag as an on-the-go snack.  It is also really good for breakfast 🙂  For a patriotic theme, add some dried blueberries and dried apple slices to the raisins and cranberries.

Fruit and Sunflower No-Bake Bars

9 Servings


1 Cup Crisp Rice Cereal

1 Cup Grape Nuts or Other Nut-Like Cereal (e.g. Enjoy Life’s nut-free Crunchy Rice)

1/8 Cup Slivered Almonds

1/8 Cup Sunflower Seeds, Unsalted

1/8 Cup Shredded Coconut

1/8 Cup Raisins

1/8 Cup Dried Cranberries, Such as Craisins

1/4 Cup Peanut, Almond or Sunflower Butter

1/4 Cup Honey

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Coat an 8″x8″ pan with cooking spray.  Add cereal and fruit to pan, and set aside.  Combine almonds, sunflower seeds and coconut in a microwave-safe dish.  Process in microwave on high for 25 seconds or until coconut is lightly toasted, and place mixture in coated pan.  Combine nut or sunflower butter, honey, vanilla and cinnamon in the microwave-safe dish, and process on high about 15-20 seconds or until mixture is warm.  Pour over cereal and fruit, tossing gently to coat, and press firmly and evenly into pan.  Cover pan with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour in the refrigerator.  Score into bars with a butter knife, and chill another 4-6 hours.  Using a plastic spatula, remove bars from pan.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap or snack-sized bags and store in the refrigerator for a great grab-and-go treat.

Per Serving (Calculated with Natural Peanut Butter): 169 Cal (32% from Fat, 9% from Protein, 59% from Carb); 4 g; Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 3 g Mono Fat; 27 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 13 g Sugar; 16 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 147 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol



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