Cranberries, Raisins, and Added Sugars

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I usually think of dried cranberries and raisins as interchangeable in recipes. The other day, I was talking with some folks about adding dried cranberries instead of raisins to a broccoli salad. We were trying to liven up the color, flavor, and nutrition. Someone commented that “we shouldn’t add cranberries because they have so much sugar in them.” This gave me pause. Yes, I know that dried cranberries have added sugars, but exactly how much?  How much is too much?

Because the fruit is not naturally sweet, cranberries are usually sweetened during the drying process.

Let’s look at the Nutrition Facts labels to compare:

  • Raisins:  ¼ cup serving (40 grams) contains 26 grams of sugar for 120 total calories
  • Dried cranberries: ¼ cup serving (40 grams) 27 grams of sugar for 130 total calories

Even though the sugar totals are almost the same, most of the sugar in dried cranberries is added during processing, while the sugars in raisins occur naturally. Naturally-occurring sugars are generally better for your health than added sugars, so I would stick to the raisins.

Remember,  both dried cranberries and raisins can be healthy in moderation. While they do have small amounts of nutrition and antioxidants, they also supply a large amount of overall sugar. Think of them as a “treat” and not an alternative to eating whole fruit.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

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