Do You Know Nutrition: A grape by any other name is a raisin

Aug. 23, 2011 at 3:23 a.m.

By Phylis Canion

Are dried grapes raisins?

When most fruits are dried they keep their same name - unless you are a grape. When grapes are dried, they become raisins.

Raisins, primarily produced by sun drying in California's San Joaquin Valley, are the most popular dried fruit in the United States. California discovered the commercial potential of raisins by accident.

In 1873, when a freakish hot spell withered the grapes on the vine, a San Francisco entrepreneur advertised the shriveled grapes as "Peruvian Delicacies" and - as they say - the rest is history.

The most popular raisins, made from white grapes, are Sultana (known as Thompson), Malaga and Muscat, while the most popular raisins made from dark grapes are Monukka and Currant. Did you know that dried plums are prunes? Thought you did.

I am not sure how to ask my question, but does my sons' finger length have anything to do with him being autistic? He is much improved since we changed his diet, but I caught a glimpse of a story on television about finger length associated with autism. I cannot confirm what I think I saw. Is there anything to this?

Finger length may point the way toward understanding autism.

Scientists have long known that finger length is a characteristic developed in early utero. Unusually long ring fingers have been associated with higher levels of testosterone in the womb.

In women, the ring finger and the index finger tend to be about the same length. However, with men, the index finger is usually the shorter of the two digits.

Now, scientists have found that autistic children tend to have ring fingers at least as long as the index finger or longer. The finding, published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, bolsters the theory that autism is essentially a magnification of male traits including difficulties with verbal expression and empathy.

In 1970, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that autism occurred at approximately one case per 10,000. In April, 2010, the CDC revised the autism prevalence to one in 110.

Researchers, physicians and family members are beginning to speculate that environmental factors may play a huge role in autism, according to resources and conferences on autism.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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