Why we no longer recommend ‘reduced sugar’ cranberries
Ocean Spray dried cranberries come in original and ‘Reduced Sugar’ with 50% less sugar and more fiber. Which is better for your health?
Less sugar and more fiber are generally good and we recommended the reduced sugar version in our book (Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide). However, further inspection reveals that in the reduced sugar product, more than half of the sugar was replaced by soluble corn fiber, and glycerin and sucralose were added. These are not health promoting ingredients and we are changing our recommendation (see Corrections and Clarifications). This may not have a big impact because we recommend limiting quantities of dried fruits but it illustrates the need to look closely at ingredient lists and be skeptical about label claims.
Soluble corn fiber, or corn syrup solids, is yet another form of high fructose corn syrup; one that we are adding to our list of ingredients to avoid in Appendix B. Isolated fibers, such as soluble corn fiber, lack natural components that may contribute to the health benefits of intact dietary fibers found in whole foods.
Concentrated fructose from corn syrup is not desirable because fructose is converted to fat in the liver, which contributes to the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and other health issues. Fatty liver disease can contribute to lymphedema swelling as explained in our book.
Glycerin or glycerol is an additive used to keep foods moist, provide added texture, and bulk. It also adds taste because it is a sugar alcohol with 40% of the sweetness of sugar. Most food-grade glycerin is a manufacturing by-product of making soap or biodiesel fuel from plant fats like coconut, palm, soybean, etc.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that does not add calories. However, we recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners because research as linked them to weight gain and other health risks via changes in the mixture of gut microbes.
Overall, we think original dried cranberries are better for health than the reduced sugar version.
• Original: cranberries, sugar.
• Reduced Sugar: cranberries, soluble corn fiber, sugar, glycerin, sucralose.
Nutritional information per 1/4 cup serving:
• Original: 33 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams dietary fiber, sugars 29 grams.
• Reduced Sugar: 31 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, sugars 14 grams.