Earlier this week Dr. Yoni Freedhoff wrote about why he considers craisins to be better classified as candy than as fruit. I retweeted his post and posed the question on twitter: Should craisins be considered candy or fruit?
As you can see from the results, people were overwhelming in favour of treating craisins as candy rather than as fruit. However, the results don’t tell the full story.
There was a surprising amount of vitriol expressed by some of my fellow dietitians. Apparently this topic touched on a nerve. Personally, I don’t feel all that strongly about the subject but I do take exception when people suggest that I’m causing eating disorders by daring to suggest that we should treat craisins (and perhaps other dried fruit) as we would candy, and not as we would fruit. I don’t see the need to attack each other’s professional ability over such a minor disagreement. Just because I disagree with dietitians who believe that craisins should be treated as fruit doesn’t mean that I think they’re incompetent. We don’t have to agree on everything and in the big scheme of nutrition this is pretty minor.
Anyway… A loaf of other strawmen brought to the party. Apparently I also hate camping because I think craisins are like candy. Somehow I was also implying that craisins are causing obesity (yes, I don’t get it either). I was “demonizing” craisins. Really? Really? I had no idea that people were so passionate about dried up sugary cranberries.
Let’s look at the facts. While Yoni drew some comparisons between craisins and candy, I think we should also take a moment to compare craisins and cranberries.
|Dried Cranberries (60ml)||Fresh Cranberries (125ml)|
|95 kcal||23 kcal|
|25.32 g carbohydrate||6.12 g carbohydrate|
|1.8 g fibre||2.3 g fibre|
|19.98 g sugar||2.03 g sugar|
|3 mg calcium||4 mg calcium|
|0 mcg vitamin A||18 mcg vitamin A (beta carotene)|
|0 mcg folate||1 mcg folate|
|0 mcg vitamin B12||0 mcg vitamin B12|
|0.1 mg vitamin C||6.7 mg vitamin C|
|1.2 mcg vitamin K||2.6 mcg vitamin K|
|4.92 g moisture||50 g moisture|
As you can see, craisins do lose some nutrients when they’re dehydrated. They also gain a whole lotta sugar (both because the sugar is more concentrated and because a lot of sugar is added to make them tasty).
The sugar is certainly one of the reasons that I think we should treat craisins more like candy than like fruit. It’s like any sweet treat, apple pie, chocolate milk. Sure there are some redeeming qualities but just because it was once a berry, fruit, or white milk doesn’t mean that it’s equal to what that food was in it’s original state.
Why else should we consider craisins to be more akin to candy than to fruit? They’re lacking the water that’s present in whole fruit. This has three effects: 1. you’re not getting the water that you would eating whole cranberries that you do from dried, 2. the calories are far more concentrated so you only need a small portion to get the same calories that you would from eating fresh cranberries, 3. craisins are very sticky which makes them excellent contributors to the formation of dental caries.
After I had written this post, another RD (who wisely chooses to remain nameless, wanting to avoid getting caught in the fray) shared this with me:
Sorry, for the poor resolution. Hopefully it’s clear enough for you to see that these national guidelines recommend dried fruit be included as “sometimes” foods. Which, as you can see below, is exactly what I’ve been saying.
I’m not saying that craisins are bad. Heck, I sprinkled some in my pancake batter for Pancake Tuesday (much as I might chocolate chips). I don’t think that candy is “bad” either. I don’t believe in labelling foods as “good” or “bad”. All foods fit. We should simply consume some more regularly than others and I would put craisins firmly in the “sometimes” food category.