Nutrition Faceoff: Craisins (Dried Cranberries) vs. Raisins
This month we take a closer look at two popular portable snacks that are dried fruits – dried cranberries and raisins.
Nutrition Facts: Ocean Spray Craisins vs. California Raisins
|Ocean Spray Craisins
A note about glycemic index: The University of Sydney tested the Ocean Spray brand and determined the glycemic index of its sweetened dried cranberries to be 62 (medium). We found a 2008 study testing glycemic index of raisins from the glycemic responses of 3 different groups of individuals (sedentary, athletes, and pre-diabetes). The results showed that the glycemic index of Sun-Maid raisins was 49.4 and 49.6 (low) in both the sedentary and pre-diabetes groups, while the glycemic index for the athletes group was medium (62.3).
Nutrition Analysis: Craisins vs. Raisins
- For the same serving size, net carb is the same for both craisins and raisins at 30 grams per 1/4 cup. If you read the ingredient list, you will see that raisins have no added sugar, while craisins are sweetened with 26 g of extra sugar. You may then ask why craisins have similar net carb content even with added sugar. The reason is that tart cranberries have much lower natural sugar to begin with. So after adding sugar to sweeten them up, total carbohydrate was brought up higher. The added sugar is likely one of the reasons why sweetened dried cranberries have a higher glycemic index.
- 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 dried cranberries 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 nutrition 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.
Alternately, if you like craisins but are concerned about the amount of added sugar, Ocean Spray has a low sugar option with 50% less sugar, with 8 grams of added sugar.
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. All Ocean Spray dried cranberries do not contain preservatives either. Read the ingredient list to be sure.
Alumni: University of California, Berkeley – Sofia believes in bringing back fun and pleasure into everyday eating. She loves cooking, and is constantly experimenting with ingredients, creating recipes and trying them out on family and friends. Her latest interest lies in finding realistic and practical ways of environmentally-friendly food/eating habits.