Is That Right? Cranberry Raisinets rich with antioxidants?
Those new Cranberry Raisinets sure sound as though they'd be good for you. Nestle's press release announcing the new product's launch this summer called the chocolate-covered cranberries a "better-for-you indulgence rich with natural fruit antioxidants."
"Cranberries," the press release continues, are "the most popular of the superfruits" and "combine exceptional nutrient richness with the power of antioxidants. These antioxidants are flavanoids [sic] and Vitamin C, which have been shown to help the body fight free radicals."
Cranberries are known for their high antioxidant value, and they can indeed be a pretty good source of perhaps the most familiar one, Vitamin C. The Nutrition Facts panel on the bag of whole, fresh cranberries in my fridge says a half-cup, 30-calorie serving provides 20 percent of the Daily Value for that key antioxidant.
But something mysterious occurs when Nestle turns cranberries into Cranberry Raisinets. A glance at the Nutrition Facts panel on a bag of the new candy reveals that per quarter-cup serving, these Raisinets contain 200 calories (70 of them from fat) -- and 0 percent of the DV for Vitamin C. Same thing for the antioxidant Vitamin A. In fact, there's not an antioxidant value in sight on the panel.
It's really not much of a mystery, after all. While drying fruits and berries concentrates some of the nutrients therein, it is known to destroy others -- including Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Of course, those aren't the only antioxidants fresh cranberries contain; others, including the less-familiar flavonoids, may well survive the drying process. But there's no way to tell by reading the label.
Though scientists are pretty convinced that antioxidants play a big role in maintaining a healthy body, nobody's quite sure how they work or just how big any single antioxidant's role really is. So buying products for their purported antioxidant value alone doesn't really make sense to me. It makes even less sense if there's no evidence of antioxidant content on the Nutrition Facts panel.
If you enjoy the taste of Cranberry Raisinets, go ahead and enjoy them -- in moderation, though, because the chocolate coating adds lots of fat and calories. But if it's Vitamin C you're after, here's a list of better choices.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
November 6, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness
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