Are Fruit Cups Good for You?

Are Fruit Cups Good for You?

March 24, 2017   10 Comments

Are fruit cups good for you? They should be because the contain fruit. What could be bad about them?

I happen to love the idea of a fruit cup stashed in my pantry for when I run out of fresh fruit. This way, I don’t have to obsess about getting to the store to keep my kids healthy. I can simply toss one of these cups into their lunch box.

I decided to compare Mandarin oranges since it is one fruit cup you can find everywhere (though I know there are peaches, pears, pineapple…). I wrote about canned peaches FIVE years ago and fruit snacks to cover all the potential snacky fruit in the world.

I found 3 distinct varieties of Mandarin fruit cups – packed in light syrup, packed in fruit juice, and packed in water sweetened with stevia and monk fruit extracts.

This is the light syrup one and as you can see, they simply added 10 grams of sugar to the oranges. That is two teaspoons, which seems like a lot to me. Can you imagine eating 2 teaspoons of sugar at the same time you eat a small mandarin orange? That is gross!

I do wonder if you don’t drink the liquid how much sugar you would consume. I called DelMonte and they said that most people drink the liquid and they don’t know exactly how much sugar is left in the juice.

It is best to assume you will consume the entire sugar amount.

This DelMonte cup (packed in lightly sweetened juice and water) is a bit misleading. Do you see how it has sugar and pear juice concentrate? You might assume when you look at the front that the mandarins are packed only in fruit juice unless you look at the smaller print. Turns out this one is almost entirely the same as the Mandarins packed in light syrup!!

What? It also has 15 grams of sugar because when you concentrate fruit juice – it is mostly sugar.

This Dole one is interesting because it boasts “No sugar added”. I was ready to hate it because I usually can taste stevia and I don’t like it.

Actually, I did a blind tasting of these three by mistake (they look exactly the same) and couldn’t taste much difference between this one and the sugar added one. There was a slight aftertaste but it didn’t bug me.

They suggest eating this one cold and maybe that would further obscure the fact that real sugar has been left out.

I think that if you can find these with “no sugar added” and you like them – these are a healthy snack and a good choice if you are out of fresh fruit. The other ones fall into the “treat” category for me since they added all that sugar.

What do you think? Are fruit cups a healthy choice?


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10 Comments:

What I don't understand is why the fruit is packed in any kind of sweetner at all? Can fruit not be packed in its own juice or grape juice not concentrate etc. without adding anything at all?

on March 25, 2017

they are TOTALLY unhealthy and I will never buy them.
if (fast) fruit is what you want, go to a salad bar, buy FRESH
fruit (whichever combination you like) and put it in a
tupperware when you get home for a portable snack.

on March 25, 2017

I think it is a cop out that they can't estimate the calories in the juice. We always pour out the liquid. why can't they say something like .5gm of sugar per ml?

on March 25, 2017

Just to note that any canned fruit or cooked fruit will taste less sweet than the fresh version....so eat fresh most often and make desserts with fresh as well. I have never seen canned fruit sweetened with stevia or other calorie-free sweeteners but will need to check for them. Might not be available in Canada ....yet. :)

on March 25, 2017

The only packed fruit I eat is unsweetened applesauce. I can't imagine ripping back the lid and adding 2.5 tsp of sugar to it. Ugh!

on March 25, 2017

I just make my own unsweetened applesauce w/ organic apples. Just planted both a peach n apple tree so I can count on having my own (canned) fruit when there's none in stores w/o all the garbage in it. Apples are heavily sprayed, I'm told.

on March 25, 2017

I add cinnamon to the Stevia sweetened fruit and it helps with any after taste.

on March 25, 2017

https://dolesunshine.com/products/fruit-bowls/mandarin-oranges-in-100-percent-juice These are all I buy. I know white grape juice is basically sugar, but it's still a step up from the first two (and possibly the third depending whose study you believe today) and tastes the best to me. Can't take the taste of monk fruit, including in the ones you listed (I tried once by accident), so that was out even if I do consider it pretty healthy. :) (No, I have no connection to Dole other than probably buying too much.)

on March 25, 2017

I buy the dole packed in 100% fruit juice. They have no added sugar, stevia or artificial sweetener.

on March 31, 2017

I also only buy mandarin oranges and other fruit cups packed in 100% fruit juice (either Dole or a local brand). I don't send these to school because they make a mess and my kids end up all sticky. I do use them at home when we run out of fresh fruit, but I quickly strain or pour off 90% of the juice (again, because of the mess, but I guess that is a good way to reduce the juice/sugar). I do send my kids to school with organic unsweetened applesauce pouches (sometimes flavored ones like strawberry, with no added sugar). I usually buy these at Target but they have good ones at Trader Joe's and most grocery stores too.

on April 17, 2017


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