Food Labels: "Made with Real Fruit" - Really?
The claim "made with real fruit" sounds healthful, enticing and wholesome. But in real life, it often lacks teeth. If a package makes the "made with real fruit" claim, there's a good chance you'll find little fruit or fruit of any substance in the product.
Before you buy a "fruity" product, ask yourself these three questions:
- Which fruit is in the food? Is it the fruit advertised on the package, or is it one that's weak nutritionally? Many products call out nifty fruits such as mango, tart cherry, pomegranate or açaí. Check the ingredient list. The first fruit(s) listed is often apple, pear or grape. These are excellent fruits when eaten whole, but juice-wise, they don't have nutritional heft.
- What form of fruit is in the food? Is it pieces of whole fruit or a fruit extract, fruit concentrate, fruit juice or fruit purée? Fruit extracts, concentrates and purées are sweeteners (a.k.a. alternate sources of sugar). They have little nutritional merit.
- Does the ingredient list state "natural (name the fruit) flavor"? If yes, that flavor can come from anything found in nature, including bark, a plant or even an animal. It commonly isn't coming from anything close to the fruit it's named after. "Flavor" alone does not make for a serving of fruit.
If you seek real fruit, your best bet is to find real fruit. Real mangos, real peaches, real berries – real, whole fruits and their sweet, juicy, crisp succulent nature. 'Tis the season. Real fruit brings real joy and real health benefits to your real body.
Contributed by Sue Moores, M.S., R.D., Kowalski's Nutritionist.