>> 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!