Inside the Label – Sunsweet Antioxidant Blend [Dried Fruit]

Dried fruit are a tasty snack. They are supposedly as good as fresh fruit nutritionally, and have the added benefit of being available throughout the year, easy to store, durable, and versatile.

We decided to take a look at a well known brand, Sunsweet, which has been selling an Antioxidant Blend for the past few years. While the main ingredients are dried fruit, we were also surprised to find added sugar and oils in the list.

Read on for a full review of Sunsweet Antioxidant Blend.

What you need to know:

Here is the ingredient list:

Dried Fruit (Cranberries, Prunes, Tart Cherries and Blueberries), Sugar, Natural Flavor, Sunflower Oil.

Why add sugar and sunflower oil to this product is beyond us. And what is that “Natural Flavor”. Aren’t these “natural” fruits. If picked when ripe, they should be just fine.

On the plus side, there is no sulfur dioxide added to these fruits. Sulfur dioxide is used in many similar products to maintain the original coloring of the fruit. Without it, apricots and apples would go brown, a less appealing color to consumers. It si considered a safe preservative, although some people are sensitive to it, and others may develop bloating.

A serving size is a quarter cup, or about one and a half ounces. There are 4 servings per package. This seems like a very small serving size. A more reasonable amount would be half a cup, or 2 servings per package.

The number of calories in the quarter cup serving is 130 (260 in a more reasonable serving size). Almost all the calories are carbs, and almost all of them are sugar – 22 grams of sugar (or double for the more reasonable serving size). That works out to 7 teaspoons (14 teaspoons) worth of sugar! Don’t be dismayed, at least this sugar comes with the benefits of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Right?

WRONG!

there’s only 1 gram of fiber here (2 grams if you doublesize). That’s very low ratio of fiber to sugar for a fruit. Even if it is a dried fruit, there still should be more fiber in there.

Regarding vitamins and minerals, this product is not a good source of ANY vitamins! Vitamin C – 0%, Vitamin A – just 6% of your daily requirements, Calcium – 2%, Manganese – 4%. Even doubled to represent a more reasonable serving size, the value is very low.

And what about the antioxidants? The FDA has no labeling rules regarding antioxidants and SunSweet, aside from a loud product name, does not elaborate on how many antioxidants are in this product.

What to do at the supermarket:

Fresh fruit are always the best choice, and frozen is also good. However, as a snack, dried fruit are definitely better than candy bars and products laced with a multitude of artificial additives.

We would recommend choosing dried fruit that has not been tampered with. No need to add sugar to a snack that is already rich in sugars. And no need to add oil either.

Look for simple ingredient labels stating just the names of the fruits inside. Sulfur dioxide may appear as well on most conventional products (not organic though). It

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  • http://balancefood.blogspot.com Chou

    Interesting questions RE sugar and oil. My uneducated guess is that the sugar is in the cranberries (see craisins as the source of this guess), as they are generally fairly tart, but are also a source of antioxidants. However, dried plums are a much better source . . . (see the USDA’s ORAC ratings here), and that the oil may help retain moisture (as will the sugar). There are a lot of foods with antioxidant labels out right now, I look forward to seeing what kind of regulatory mechanisms are put in place in the future. The fact that the USDA has a published list of measured antioxidant levels indicates that we will probably see some regulation in the future to me.

  • Dude

    I enjoy Sunsweet’s healthy and unsweetened plums (I especially like the Cherry Essence Plums), but I would also like to see the Sunsweet Premium Varietal Blueberries product changed.
    The otherwise very healthy product is tainted with the addition of high fructose corn syrup. I don’t need my blueberries to taste like candy, and especially don’t like HFCS in anything I eat.

  • http://www.betterschoolfood.org Dr Susan Rubin

    Sunflower oil is high in pro-inflammatory Omega 6 fat.
    How about a plum from a tree in season instead??

  • Dr. X

    My question is WHY does the ingredient list say: Cranberries, Prunes, Tart Cherries and Blueberries when the cover reads: Bluberries, Cherries, Cranberries, Plums?? Where did the plums come from??

  • Ruth King

    Interesting. What’s the connection of the plum? I haven’t heard it as a help to avoid antioxidant.

    Ruth King,
    Resveratrol
    Whole Health

  • http://viettelonline.com/ USB 3G

    Nice, that’s helpful for me!