Nutrition Faceoff: Craisins (Dried Cranberries) vs. Raisins

craisins versus raisins

(HealthCastle.com) This month we take a closer look at two popular portable snacks that are dried fruits. Are all dried fruits essentially the same? 

​Nutrition Faceoff: Ocean Spray Craisins vs. California Raisins

  Ocean Spray Craisins California Raisins
Serving Size: 1/4 cup 1/4 cup
Calories: 93 kcal 108 kcal
Fat: 0.4 g 0.2 g
Protein: 0 g 1.1 g
Total Carbohydrates: 25 g 28.7 g
Fiber: 1.7 g 1.3 g
Potassium: 12 mg 272 mg

Dietitian's Take: Craisins vs. Raisins

A couple of highlights from the table:

  • For the same serving size, Craisins have fewer calories, lower carbohydrates, and slightly more fiber than raisins.  But that's just part of the picture. If you read the ingredient list, you will see that raisins have no added sugar, while Craisins have sugar added. You may then ask why Craisins have a lower carbohydrate content. The reason is that tart cranberries naturally have much less sugar to begin with.  So even after adding sugar to sweeten them up, they still have less TOTAL sugar overall. 
  • Raisins have a high amount of potassium, while Craisins have very little. Fresh fruits are generally good sources of potassium, but in the case of Craisins, the processing appears to have removed a significant portion of the potassium.

Both raisins and dried cranberries have been shown to have high ORAC, a measure of antioxidant activity. This is not surprising, since fruits, whether fresh or dried, have phytonutrients that exhibit antioxidant activity. However, some of these phytonutrients as well as vitamins or minerals may have been destroyed or lost during processing into dried fruit.  That's why it's important to choose dried fruits that are naturally dried, not processed.

Our Pick: Raisins

In this faceoff, raisins win because they offer a high amount of potassium and have no sugar added. Practically speaking, both raisins and dried cranberries can be part of a diet consisting of minimally processed foods. Because of their high sugar content, they can be a satisfying alternative for your sweet tooth and a more nutrient-savvy choice than candy. Being dried, they are also more shelf-stable and are therefore an appealing snack choice for the office or school. However, fresh fruits should still be your first option because they contain all of the fruit's nutrients. Some nutrients, like water-soluble vitamins, may be lost or destroyed through the drying process. 

For those concerned about preservatives, we confirmed with the California Raisin Marketing Board ​that regular raisins do not contain the preservative sulfur dioxide, while golden raisins have it added. Read the ingredient list to be sure. 

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