Halloween Candy Assortment

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How Healthy Is That Halloween Candy?

The Right Choices Are Good For You

October 30, 2019

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Hold those jokes about post-Halloween sugar highs and the dreaded next visit to the dentist.  Some Halloween candy is actually good for you!

I did some detective work to uncover the good and not-so-good choices that you'll find in plastic pumpkins when the trick-or-treating is done.  I found a great article in Runner's World (runnersworld.com, 9/10/19) that you can use to help you sort it all out.  They interviewed Matthew Kadey, a registered dietician, about making the healthiest choices when selecting candy.  A few good pointers include:

Don't just count calories.  Kadey explains some candies are lower in calories simply because they’re made of pure sugar and lack fat. "“By eating them, you’re just setting yourself up for a bad sugar crash.  Instead of just looking at the calorie count, you should be looking at where those calories are coming from,” Kadey said. "If there aren’t many real whole foods in the ingredients—such as peanuts or cocoa—that’s a good sign it won’t be very nutritionally beneficial."

That's bad news for candy corn fans: The waxy kernels contain more than 12 ingredients, including sugar, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze (a food grade shellac that comes from the secretion of an insect called a lac bug), and food dyes. In short, nothing you really want to be putting in your body.  Kadey suggests opting for chocolate candies or chocolate candy bars.

Choose the Right Chocolate.  Studies have linked the high cacao levels in dark chocolate to health benefits such as better endurance and a decreased risk of heart attack. But beware: Kadey warns that sometimes chocolate is sneakily labeled as dark chocolate even when it isn’t.  A good rule of thumb is to seek out dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cacao, with sugar making up the remaining 30 percent of the bar. The higher the percentage of cacao in a bar, the less sugar it has, thus the better it is for you.

What about the Most Popular Halloween Candy?   So how do classic milk chocolate candy bars such as Reese’s, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Almond Joys stack up?  A five-piece serving of Reese’s Miniature Cups has 210 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, but is loaded with 19 grams of sugar. Similarly, one serving of mini Snickers (four pieces) totals 190 calories, with 19 grams of sugar, 8 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein. Miniature Almond Joys are one of the healthier picks of the bunch, as a serving size (two bars) contains 160 calories, 9 grams of fat, 16 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.  “Chocolate candy bars containing ingredients like nuts are going to be better options, because the protein and fats will help keep you from crashing later." 

Kadey added, "You should aim for about 120 calories and less than 10 grams of sugar.  For example, you could eat three Hershey’s Special Dark miniature bars, which total 120 calories and roughly 11 grams of sugar, or three Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, which total about 120 calories and roughly 12g of sugar.  Either way, one big benefit of Halloween time is the “fun-sized” or mini bars, which can help with portion control."

Whatever you and your brood consumes this week, do it IN MODERATION. Always good advice.  Happy Halloween!

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