Cranberries are a native North American fruit that have found their way into Thanksgiving tradition alongside the Turkey and other dishes. Native Americans, who used the bitter and sour fruit for meat preservation, medicine, and dye, introduced it to hungry Pilgrims who at first were taken aback by the highly acidic flavor profile.
Today we know that cranberries are superfruit, loaded with beneficial antioxidants. But only 5% of cranberries are sold in their natural state. The rest turn into juice, sauce, or dried fruit. All these applications employ a generous dose of sweetener. These processing methods also have a substantial effect on the cranberry nutrient profile (i.e less antioxidants).
Let’s take a look at a Thanksgiving tradition – cranberry sauce, served alongside the main dish. For today’s analysis, a 14 ounce can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce.
What you need to know:
A quarter cup serving is about 2.5 ounces. It has 110 calories. 84 are from added sugars (5 teaspoons per serving).
That works out to the sauce being 76% sugar! Similar to a jam or jelly that you would eat.
Cranberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Corn Syrup.
Not surprisingly, 2 of the 4 ingredients are sugars. Organic versions of this sauce may include table sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, but the nutrition profile is similar. And making a sauce on your own at home, you’ll probably dump a lot of sugar into it as well.
Such is the flavor profile of edible cranberry products.
So what to do on Thanksgiving?
Enjoy the sauce, but stick to one serving (or less).