I’m sure you asked this question before thinking that there must be some fruit in a fruit roll up. It can’t be that deceiving. When I became a Registered Dietitian, I couldn’t help but look back at the awful things I ate as a kid wondering if any remnants of such junk food were still in my system. The one food item that I adored the most as a child was fruit rolls ups. I thought it was Willa Wonka like that someone was nice enough to take juicy strawberries and flatten them into a pancake for my eating convenience on a playground, recess, couch.
The first step in seeing how much fruit is in a fruit roll up is to
read the ingredients. There are now many different brands of fruit roll
ups but many start with the same first ingredient which is apple or pear
juice concentrate. A fruit concentrate is void of the nutritional
benefits and fibers of fruit and is essentially concentrated sugar. Some
brands also have corn syrup,
which is very much not a fruit, but is sugar made from the starch of a
vegetable. More so, corn syrup is not only void of nutrients but also
has a matter of concern since most corn products are genetically
modified. I guess the marketing of corn roll up just doesn’t sound as
good as fruit, although corn roll up would likely be a more accurate
General Mills Inc. even had to defend itself in a lawsuit that
claimed the food company deceived consumers into believing its fruit
roll ups products were made with real fruit! The case proceeded to
explain how reasonable consumers might be misled by packaging of the
snacks because of its statement “made with real fruit” when literally it
is anything but fruit. It’s unfortunate that food companies would market products, especially children products, as being healthier than they really are with such overt misstatements in marketing.
With more knowledge now, I’m certainly more wary of what I eat,
though I don’t deny myself a “fruit roll up”. Here are some alternatives
for my beloved fruit roll up:
1) Make your own fruit leathers. Fruit leathers are essentially
fruit pureed and jammed, then flattened. They’re fruit dried with the
water removed. A serving corresponds roughly to one small serving of
fruit. Commercial brands have added sugars and sulfites, but you can
make it at home without added sugar and preservatives. They stay well
jarred in the refrigerator.
2) Eating dried fruit. Dried fruit is easy to pack and easily
available in stores. Do beware of brands with added sugars and harmful
preservatives. Unlike fruit rolls ups, dried fruit also has more fiber
and minerals. Also keep the portion to 2-4 pieces due to the highly
concentrated sugar content. Adding nuts to a dried fruit medley is a
great idea too since it would be including more protein and good fats.
3) Eat a piece of fruit. Fruit can be just as fun as a fruit roll up.
Try adding dried coconut, chocolate, whipped cream or ground nuts for a
real, real treat.