February 26, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Dried Cranberries

[I just read your posting on apple butter and had a question about] dried cranberries.

Are they any good for you because I was reading the nutritional info and it just seems like carbs!

-- Anonymous
Via the blog

All fruits, except for avocados, are basically pure carbohydrate.

I say basically because some might offer 0.2 or so grams of protein.

The fact that fruit is made exclusively of carbohydrates does not make it unhealthy or a bad choice.

When you eat a piece of fruit (not drink fruit juice or have gummy candy "with fruit" or eat fruit-flavored sherbet), you are consuming fiber, naturally occurring sugars, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

The word "carb" became akin to a curse word because it erroneously equated "empty carbohydrates", which are void of any nutrition (think donuts, cookies, and Goldfish crackers), with truly nourishing ones like oats, quinoa, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.

It is interesting that you point out dried fruit, though, as it can be a bit tricky to decipher.

On one hand, raisins -- essentially grapes tha have been sunbathing for too long without UV protection -- are a very nutritious snack.

They are a good source of potassium, selenium, and iron, and offer fiber mainly in the form of inulin.

Cranberries run into a problem, though. When dried (i.e.: become Craisins), they become so tart that sucrose (table sugar) must be added.

And we're not talking a light sprinkling.

In turn, they become more candy-like and lose some of their awesomely healthy fruit properties.

If dried fruit is your choice of snack, reach for naturally sweet options like raisins, dried mangoes, dried apples, and dates (dried figs), which rely on their naturally-occurring sweetness to satisfy your sweet tooth.


Anonymous said...

Can you recommend a good nutritional calculator? I am looking for something that helps me calculate the nutrients in my recipe.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Nice article, but dates are not dried figs. Dates are a stone fruit most commonly found dried.