Strawberry, strawberry yogurt, strawberry frozen bar

On their own, strawberries can be a healthy summer treat. But once they get added to processed foods, in many cases they don't supply much nutrition. Here's a look at what happens when strawberries get far from their whole form.

1. Fresh Strawberries
Strawberries have a shelf life of just 8 to 10 days. As a result, they’re picked by hand and rushed to market, essentially processing-free. Deliciously sweet and inherently healthy, ½ cup of sliced berries has about 30 calories, 5 grams of natural sugars, and about 2 grams of fiber. They’re rich in vitamin C and other anti-oxidants (more than half your daily need in ½ cup) and a compound called pelargonidin, which gives them their striking red color. Note too that frozen berries are as healthy as fresh ones, as long as they don’t contain added sugars. Consider organic; conventional strawberries can contain high pesticide residue levels.

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2. Fruit Yogurt
Most of the benefits of strawberry yogurt—calcium, potassium, and probiotic live, active cultures—come from the yogurt, not the berries. And fruit yogurts are far more processed than plain yogurt to which you add sliced fruit. First, consider added sugars, which vary by brand. For example, a 4.5-ounce cup of Noosa whole milk straw­berry yogurt has 11 grams of added sugars, while Siggi’s whole milk strawberry & rhubarb has just 5 grams. And some yogurts have additives, as well as “natural” flavors and colors; these come from natural sources but can be chemically extracted, making them highly processed.

3. Frozen Fruit Bar
With claims such as “made with real fruit,” these bars sound healthier than standard ice pops—but most don’t have much fruit. In fact, they’re more processed than yogurt, due to the added sugars they tend to include, such as cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, and the fact that they have little nutritional value. In the bars we looked at, there were about 14 to 24 grams of sugars and little or no vitamins, minerals, or fiber.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the August 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.