Surprising HFCS food of the week

>> Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This week's surprising HFCS food of the week is...dried fruit! The other day I was making a homemade trail mix, and I wanted to add some dried fruit to it for a little sweetness. Dried fruit seems like it should be a no-brainer, doesn't it? But not only are most dried fruits jam packed with added sugar, but many contain HFCS as a prime ingredient.

I'm going to pick on a single brand here, but HFCS as an ingredient is not limited to this brand of dried fruit. Mariani is the lucky brand. I am happy to say that most of Mariani's dried fruit does not contain HFCS - plenty of sugar, but not HFCS. Most but not all. Their berry products, unfortunately, are rife with HFCS.

Let's look at their Premium Wild Blueberries as an example. Take a look at the ingredient list: Dried Wild Blueberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sucrose, Citric Acid, Glycerol, Natural Flavor, Potassium Sorbate Added As A Preservative. Holy sugar, batman! Who knew that a little berry needed sugar in the form of HFCS, corn syrup, AND sucrose!

The good news is that there are a lot of HFCS-free dried fruit options. Unless you go specifically for a fruit that has been dried without sugar though, the fruit is still likely to be more sugar than fruit (that's an exagerration, but not by much). I must admit that I do not care for most of the added-sugar free dried fruits (at least the ones that typically have added sugar) - with one exception...

Bare Fruit Snacks is a brand that sells bake-dried fruit with no added sugar and no preservatives. Because there is no added sugar, these bake-dried fruit bits are tough and chewy, but they're packed with flavor to make up for the lack of sugar. I've tried a few of their products, and my two favorites by far are their dried mango and cinnamon apple chips. The mango flavor in the dried mango bits is intense as are the cinnamon and apple flavors.

Because they are a bit tough, these are not the kind of fruit that I like to add to trail mix - I'm going with raisins or sugar-dried pineapple for that. I like to snack on Bare Fruit Snacks all on their own.

Just as a note...there are several common dried fruits out there that rarely have sugar added during the drying process - raisins and prunes instantly come to mind. And even sugar-dried fruits have some benefits - like lots of fiber - though they're really more fiber-filled desserts than anything. Take this post as a reminder to be realistic about whether a product really is good for you or should be treated more as a treat...and read those ingredients!


Choofy Mama July 1, 2009 at 9:01 AM  

here are our tried and true dried fruit staples:

Crunchies Food Company’s Crunchies are made through a unique freeze-drying pro-cess, in which individually frozen fruits and vegetables are placed in a refrigerated vacuum chamber that draws out moisture from the foods, removing up to 97% of the moisture. This unique process gives them their crunchy texture and allows them to retain many of the nutritious enzymes that are lost through traditional heat drying.

One serving of Roasted Veggie Crunchies contains 200% of the daily-recommended levels of Vitamins A & C; have only 100 calories; and a single gram of unsaturated fat. They’re an all natural treat with no preservatives and are healthy and fun to eat.

All Crunchies Food products are low in fat, gluten-free, wheat-free, preservative-free, additive-free, raw food compatible and organic/GMO-free. So all you get is great taste and healthy and nutritious food!

cathy July 1, 2009 at 9:09 AM  

Choofy Mama - Thanks for the info and the links! You know, I love the idea of freeze-dried fruits and veggies. Their taste is great, but I find that I just don't like the texture. Go figure.

Jim, Guacamole Diet July 1, 2009 at 9:12 AM  

Most fruit have too many carbs for my low-carb diabetic diet, but dried fruit (with or without HFCS) are a real carb-and-calorie disaster for me.

I try to stick with fresh non-sweet fruit like avocados, tomatoes, and red/orange/yellow bell peppers.

magnolianfp July 1, 2009 at 12:01 PM  


I’m working on a film called Food Inc. It was just released theatrically across the US. This documentary focuses on the industrial food system in America. One of the characters It features is Barbara Kowalcyk, a mother who lost her son to E. coli after all eating together at a fast food restaurant during a family vacation. Her story, along with the testimony of experts like Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) brings to light the importance of not only know what our children are eating, but where it came from, how safe it is, and how our current industrial food system has hidden the real costs of our food chain from us.

I would urge every concerned parent to see this film. It’s not about fat or thin, it’s about an entire generation of children, born after the year 2000, in which one out of every three will have early onset diabetes. It’s about feeling secure in what your children are eating, and about educating them to make good choices themselves.

The more educated we are as parents/grandparents/aunts and uncles/educators, the better off we are to give our children the knowledge and the ammunition to make better choices and lead healthier lives.

You can find when/where Food Inc will open near you at:

Find out more and watch the trailer at:

Arianne Ayers

Publicity and Marketing Director

Magnolia Pictures

49 W. 27th St. 7th Floor

New York, NY 10001

work: 212-924-6701 x216

mobile: 917-344-9928

Kara July 1, 2009 at 12:56 PM  

No kidding! I don't think I would normally check the ingredients on dried fruit - I mean... it's fruit. That's dry. Wouldn't have occurred to me that there would be HFCS, especially since Mariani is packaged as a "premium" brand. Geesh.

Super Healthy Kids July 2, 2009 at 4:14 AM  

WOW! That is cool the Food Inc guy commented. Last time I checked there were no Utah dates, so I'm glad he made me look again. But bummed they won't be in Utah till October.

fatfighter July 2, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

I have never been a big fan of dried fruit - except for dried apricots. I will make sure to check those labels!

Sagan July 2, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

I refuse to eat dried fruit with anything added to it- it's already so sweet!

staci @ teaching money to kids July 2, 2009 at 9:21 AM  

okay, I have a question for you
what is the difference between corn syrup and High fructose corn syrup? Are you trying to just avoid the HFCS, or both. Are there negaticves to the corn syrup, too.
I notice them listed together on many foods, and I don't know what to think

Lori July 2, 2009 at 4:18 PM  

So glad you brought this up. When I travel home my parent's always buy me my very favorite dried blueberries from Sam's Club by Stoneridge Orchards. The last time I got them I noticed it said - Now Made with Sugar - on the label. I knew there was sugar in there, but wondered why they would advertise it. After looking on their website I realized they had switched from HFCS back to sugar. That's why they were advertising. :)

I watch my dried fruit consumption b/c I know there is sugar, but I absolutely love dried blueberries, cranberries and pineapple so I do eat it in moderation.

cathy July 2, 2009 at 5:51 PM  

Arianne - I am SO looking forward to seeing Food Inc! Unfortunately, I enjoy the small town life and will have to wait until it's released on DVD or cable. Thanks for taking a moment to comment. I'm sure that many of my readers will be interested in your movie - and able to see it in an actual theater!

Staci - I get that question a lot. If you search on corn syrup on my front page, I do have a short post early on that talks a bit about the difference between the two. I get asked this enough that I think it might be time to devote another post to it though. Look for it in the next couple of weeks and thanks for asking!

Lori - I adore sugar dried pineapple. Like you, I'm not giving it up either but watching and being conscience about how much I eat instead.

KellieS. July 4, 2009 at 7:59 PM  

My 13 month old is allergic to high-frutose corn syrup. She breaks out on her chin and chest whenever she consumes foods that contain it.
Her allergy may be to the corn, but we are not sure at this time. I will say that it is a tricky thing to find any packaged foods, even fruit products, that do not contain it. We try to stick with whole, raw foods most of the time, but it's hard. Thanks for your blog; I will subscribe.

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