Stevia in Strawberries: Nutrition Gone Awry?


I 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?


7 responses to “Stevia in Strawberries: Nutrition Gone Awry?”

  1. Gina says:

    Very interesting post. I think you bring up a great point here. What is so bad about a dried strawberry, other than the added sugar? Why wouldn’t they replace the ADDED sugar, and not the already present, somewhat healthy natural fructose? Strange. Thanks for bringing it up!

  2. Chef Lisa says:

    That is messed up.

  3. Wow. Just wow.
    .-= Mary :: A Merry Life’s last blog post..I’m struggling. =-.

  4. Cynthia says:

    Seems like just another excuse to make a product out of a real food. I could maybe see this for cranberries, which are very tart naturally and need a bit of sweet for most people. But strawberries? Not so sure. I sense marketing hype on the way.

  5. Marsha says:

    I heard today from a colleague who recently attended an international nutrition symposium. The upshot she shared was that the food industry is really interested in working with others to address the problems surrounding the state of our food today. My experience with people in the food industry is that they are honorable people. It takes all of us working together when we see a problem to correct it. I have high hopes for the future, regardless of the tone my post today may have communicated.

  6. Betsy says:

    I’m with you on the “I don’t understand” train. Fruits are a natural food. Why take out their natural sugars and replace them with artifical ones? It doesn’t makes sense.
    .-= Betsy’s last blog post..A winner and some MUFFINS! =-.

  7. Emily says:

    Who knew that they would go to so much trouble? It’s so weird the lengths that companies will go to to make a product that is somehow “more natural” and better tasting than before they started. Sounds like a lot of spin to me too, Marsha!

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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