Dole Banana Dippers: Too Good to Be Food?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman investigates

"Banana slices covered in dark chocolate" sounds like a little slice of heaven, right? But wait, there’s more. With just "100 calories per pack," Dole Banana Dippers appear to be a perfectly sweet, portion controlled treat. Real fruit and the right kind of chocolate? Could this be a dream? Or are Dole Banana Dippers Too Good to be Food? Let’s see...


●      Banana (Banana, Ascorbic Acid): Bananas contain something called resistant starch, a type of fiber that resists digestion and may increase burning of fat. And you can’t forget the fiber that they provide, helping to keep you feeling full for longer. Ascorbic acid is just another word for vitamin C, which acts as a preservative and boosts the vitamin C content.

●      Dark Chocolate (made with): When it comes to chocolate, dark is always the way to go. Pure dark chocolate, when portion-controlled, can be a heart-healthy treat.  Rich in the compounds flavonoids and eicosanoids, both of which have been shown to play key roles in cardiovascular health, dark chocolate truly is a yummy way to protect your heart. The nutritional information on the label of this product unfortunately does not specify the cacao content. The less cacao, the less antioxidants, and the more sugar! We are left doing a little guess work here. (FYI I prefer at least 70 percent!). The label does tell us, however, that the dark chocolate contains the following:

●      Chocolate Liquor (Processed with Alkali): Chocolate liquor is the ground-up center of the cocoa bean in a smooth, liquid form and despite its name, contains no alcohol. Cocoa is treated with alkali to neutralize its natural acidity and give it a milder taste, but the more the chocolate is processed through alkalizing, the more flavonoids lost, diminishing the antioxidant power and health benefits of the chocolate itself. This is known as Dutch processing and is not the preferred process for maximizing the nutritional benefits that can be derived from dark chocolate. This extra information may seem negligible, but pay attention to these little details as they can really derail the nutritional content of the food!

●      Sugar: Sugar is sugar... is sugar, and it is always added to chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar, but again, the label does not specify the cacao content!

●      Cocoa Butter: Constituting 50 to 54 percent of roasted cocoa beans, cocoa butter adds to the creamy texture and rich flavor of chocolate. Added here to help keep chocolate solid, cocoa butter contains healthy saturated fats as well as monounsaturated fats and is packed with antioxidants.

●      Soy Lecithin: Soy lecithin is an emulsifier and stabilizer derived from soybeans that keeps foods from separating. This ingredient mimics the binding effects of eggs, and gives dressings and sauces a consistent texture. I don’t love additives, but unless you have soy allergies, there is no need to worry about this ingredient.

●      Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract is made when vanilla beans are soaked in an alcohol-water solution that is then aged. However, when the label does not specify "pure vanilla extract," it is most likely an artificial kind made from wood byproducts and other chemicals. So be careful!

The Bottom Line:
This product’s "dark" chocolate is not exactly the type I would recommend for heart health but, with 7 grams of sugar per serving (a serving of fruit usually has about 15 grams) this is hardly a gluttonous treat. If you need a chocolate fix, I would always recommend going for the real thing first: slice half a banana and melt some dark chocolate yourself (look for at least 70 percent cacao), a super easy task that will take no longer than five minutes. But, this portion-controlled convenient indulgence is not Too Good To Be Food. If you don’t have the energy to make your own, then this treat is certainly OK to keep on hand. And as far as frozen treats go, you can bet it is much better for you than the pint of ice cream you may have eaten instead.


Nutrition facts: At least 3 g of fiber per serving, this has 4, 9 g carbs, protein 7 g- 15% daily protein
Serving size: one pack of 4 slices
Calories: 100
Calories from fat: 25
Total fat: 4.5 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Sodium: 10 mg
Potassium: 150 mg
Total carbohydrates: 13 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sugars: 7 g
Protein: 7 g