Stevia in Strawberries: Nutrition Gone Awry?

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StrawberryI hope I’m not reading this right.

In an e-newsletter last week, I saw a link to an article titled “Stevia-sweetened strawberries point to low-cal fruit potential.”  I had to click on it.  Low-cal fruit potential?  What were they talking about? Fruit is low in calories — naturally.

It was an article based on another from Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, which I assume is an industry journal of some sort.  So it was all about how food technologists have discovered that S. rebaudiana (a stevia-derived sweetener) may have potential in reducing the amount of sugar added during the dehydration stages and coating of dry fruit.

Well, that seems reasonable.  Dried fruit is definitely a concentrated source of carbohydrates, and when sugar is added (sometimes done, I think, to help preserve color and perhaps for other reasons, too), obviously the carb content climbs even higher.

Where I got confused was when they described the first part of the process involving the  removal of the sugars naturally present in strawberries, followed by the incorporation of a stevia powder.  The article then went on to discuss how this resulted in a lower-calorie dried strawberry compared to one dehydrated in a sugar solution.

Okay, I admit I don’t completely understand what they’re doing here.  It could be the article doesn’t have enough information for me to do that because I’m not a food technologist.  But the concluding quote in the article is what confirmed my uneasiness about the whole thing.  “The process removes high-calorie sugars from the fruit and replaces it with a natural low-calorie sugar, restoring the sweetness of the fruit.”

Folks, even when dried, strawberries wouldn’t contain a lot of calories unless a lot of sugar was added, although I’m not sure even then if that would be true.  But if it is, and if this is being done to reduce the amount of added sugar needed to produce an acceptable dried strawberry, then maybe it’s reasonable.

But I guess I question the need for dried strawberries in the first place.  I don’t think I’ve ever tasted one that meets my standards for good eating from a taste standpoint.  I also don’t see dried strawberries as providing much needed nutrition to people around the world.

Am I missing something?

photo by kliverap via stock.xchange

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