Ben & Jerry's Body & Soul

I bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s today, and in a misguided attempt to be less of a fat-ass, I got the “Body & Soul” variety, which claims to have “25% Less Fat, Sugar, and Calories” than the regular version of the same flavor. (For the purposes of this experiment, it was the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough).

I’m not quite as euphoric as their marketing people would have me believe, but it’s not bad. Pretty much like the standard version, but not as potent.

The thing that surprised me, though, and the reason I’m sharing my thrilling ice cream experience on the internet, is that item number 4 in the ingredients list is “Grape Juice Concentrate.” That’s one of the last things I’d expect to see in vanilla ice cream; is it a common low-calorie sweetener or something?

I have a cookbook with recipes for sugar-free desserts that use concentrated fruit juice concentrate for a sweetener. The ones I’ve tried haven’t been that good, though. Think I’ll stick with the regular Ben & Jerry’s.

Common, yes. Low-calorie, no.

Grape juice concentrate is cheap and abundant, but it doesn’t have any magical sweetening properties. It contains lots of fructose, like high-fructose corn syrup. As far as I know, some quantity of grape juice with X grams of sugar sweetens the same amount—and has roughly the same number of calories—as some quantity of high fructose corn syrup that also contains X grams of sugar.

IMHO, it’s mostly just a perception thing. People think that things sweetened with fruit juice are healthier than those sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, that they’re more “natural” or they are more nutritious or something. You’ve seen “100% juice” in the store, right? It’s often sweetened with grape or pear juice concentrate, so it is, technically, 100% juice. Compare the nutrition labels with “juice drinks” which are sweetened with sugar or corn syrup. Same number of grams of sugar, and they’re usually pretty comparable in the vitamin and mineral department.

Some people would just rather not have the refined sugar if they can avoid it.

Could you explain why, exactly? I don’t mean to attack you, or anything. I’ve tried Googling for the reasons behind this, and keep an eye on the news for new studies, but I’m afraid all I’ve found is pretty unsubstantiated woo-woo natural=good stuff. Are there health reasons to prefer grape juice concentrate to corn syrup or sugar?

Fructose used to be recommended over sucrose for diabetics, but that no longer seems to be the case:

Same reason why some people don’t like using bleached flour - why used something that is processed (or over processed) when similar things exist in a less processed (more natural) form?
I don’t know what percentage of the population thinks that way, but it is greater than zero.

Makes sense, especially since “high fructose corn syrup” has been so vilified. And since Ben & Jerry’s prides itself on the whole “all-natural” bit in their marketing, they’re going to be working towards the fruit-juice-is-always-good-for-you angle.

But since it is all about a perception, it can backfire too. After I read the ingredients list, the stuff had this vague aftertaste like grape juice. I’m sure it was all psychosomatic, but it seemed a little “off.”

All this for a grand total of 25% less fat, sugar, blah blah blah?!

Wouldn’t it be just as healthy, and a hell of a lot tastier, to simply eat 75% of your “normal” portion?

And to those who equate natural=healthy…well, hemlock is also all “natural”. Not a single additive.

Keep in mind that when you see “grape juice concentrate” listed as an ingredient, you’re not really getting any grape. They refine the sugar out of the grapes the same way it’s refined out of corn or sugar cane and then use it as a general sweetener. But grape juice concentrate looks better than seeing sugar or corn syrup listed.

I’ve seen this claim on the boards a couple of times… Could you provide me with a cite about this practice?

If the claims on the label are true (unlike those 1/2 fat ice creams that are just pumped with more sugar), I’ll buy it. If not for my body, then at least for my soul. Also, my karma has been packing on the pounds.
But if you can tell the difference and don’t like it, don’t do the silly dieter thing where you settle for something inferior just 'cause it’s “better” for you. You won’t be satisified. Fill up on a healthy dinner, wait a bit, then have a small portion of the real thing.
Now, if only theu’d make a low cal version of Festivus (gingerbread flavour).

This industry site talks about it.

I’ve cut down my intake of refined sugar, bleached flour, large amounts other simple carbohydrates, etc. I found that it helped me with my depression (this in addition to, not in place of, medicine). I am guessing mostly because I tend to have a problem digesting things; after I eat them I feel all logy.

I was going to link some sites but they all look so damned flaky. My doctor suggested it to me and I believe it helps, so hey.

Thank you. Very interesting site.