FruitMedia Watch

For the record – the real truth about dried fruit

There is a column on the Health page in You Magazine on 18th December 2011 – The truth about dried fruit. It is the latest in a series of columns intended to give some snappy and informative facts about foods and to dispel some myths. To date we have done the truth about butter, water, green tea, chocolate and now dried fruit.

The final bullet in the snippet is entitled “Coeliac readers” and says “Coeliac readers may want to know that YOU testers voted Genius gluten-free mince pies “absolutely delicious”. £2.19 for four, at selected supermarkets. Find your nearest one at (tel: 0845 874 4000)” The credit “By nutritionist Zoe Harcombe” immediately follows this apparent endorsement.

I did not know that YOU testers had been polled, let alone what they had voted. I had never heard of Genius or their products. I have no idea or interest how much they are or where you get them from. I never said any of these words and never would. Anyone who knows me knows that I abhor conflict of interest and will never endorse any product or even accept any advertising on any of my sites – no matter how lucrative this would be.

After seeking to understand how this happened, I have received an explanation and an apology.

I have looked at the genius web site as a result of this shock upon opening the magazine this morning and here are the ingredients for this gluten-free mince pie concoction:

Gluten Free Pastry: [Maize Starch, Vegetable Oils, Vegetable Margarine; (Vegetable Oil, Water, Salt, Emulsifier; (Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids), Flavouring, Colours; (Annatto, Curcumin)), Water, Sugar, Dextrose, Whey Powder, Whole Egg Powder, Modified Potato Starch, Stabilisers; (Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum), Raising Agents; (Sodium Bicarbonate, Disodium Diphosphate), Rice Flour].

Mincemeat (49.6%) : [Sugar, Sultanas, Bramley Apple Puree; ( Bramley Apple, Preservative; (Acetic Acid)), Currants, Humectant E422, Vegetable Suet; (Palm Oil, Sunflower Oil, Rice Flour), Modified Maize Starch, Orange Zest, Mixed Spice, Raisins, Lemon Zest, Orange Oil]

Sugar Topping: [Glucose, Maize Starch, Vegetable Oil].

OMG! That is truly gross. My recommendation, never having heard of these fake foods before, is don’t touch them with a barge pole. If you even know what all those ingredients are, you’re a step ahead of me.

My original article filed by the way was as follows:

What’s the deal with dried fruit & Christmas?
Fresh fruit is not naturally available in winter, so festive cakes and puds are traditionally based on dried fruit.

Is it healthy?
There are some useful nutrients in dried fruit – carotene, iron, potassium – but there are richer and less sugary sources for all vitamins and minerals.

What’s the sugar issue?
Dried fruit is approximately 30% water and 70% sugar. Different dried fruits have different proportions of glucose and fructose, but you’re essentially eating sucrose (table sugar) with a mild vitamin tablet.

Is this unique to dried fruit?
All fruit is a mixture of glucose and fructose, but dried fruit is especially dense, having lost water. You wouldn’t eat a dozen apricots, but you could easily eat the dried equivalent.

What’s the best way to enjoy it?
Ideally with real food and not in puds or pies. A handful of raisins with nuts, or cheese and dried apricots will be delicious, nutritious and the protein can help mitigate the sugar load.

4 thoughts on “For the record – the real truth about dried fruit

  • Just discovered your books and love them, and you, and your mission. Please keep writing, sharing, and illuminating. You are a delight, and a treasure. Thank you.

  • Gluten-free?
    That’s like saying that Equatorial Africa is free from Lyme disease.

  • Sulfites don’t bother me. (We actually need sulfUR, anyway, though meat is a better source of it.) And if people only ate as much dried fruit as they did the fresh equivalent there wouldn’t be as much of a problem. Alas. This is one of my Achilles heels, too; I tend to avoid them entirely.

  • Not to mention, commercially dried fruit usually has sulfites. If you must eat dried fruit, either check the label carefully or make it yourself. better yet, just eat the fresh fruit.

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