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Halloween Candy: Healthy Choices

We all know Halloween candy is not health food, but the truth is that not all candies are created equal. Find out which candies will cause the least damage to the ghouls and goblins of your household.

According to dietitian Gloria Tsang, author of the new book Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss and founder of nutrition network HealthCastle.com, choosing the right candy can reduce the health impact of your kid's trick-or-treat haul. "With big differences in calories, sugar, and quality of ingredients used, it's just not true that all Halloween candy is the same," Tsang said. "None of them are exactly good for you, but we've done some close analysis of common competitors to see which options are best from a nutrition perspective."

Here are the winners and losers of HealthCastle.com's candy comparison:

  • PayDay beats Reese Peanut Butter Cups: Reese Cups contain polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), a commercial emulsifier used to reduce cocoa butter. Plus, PayDay is the only candy to list peanuts, not sugar, as the first ingredient.   
  • Kit Kat beats Twix: They're similar in calories and sugar (and both include PGPR), but Twix’s ingredient list is surprisingly long. Even more surprising? Twix is marketed as a biscuit topped with caramel and chocolate, but there’s no caramel on the ingredient list.
  • M&Ms beat Skittles: Both contestants in this classic Halloween showdown contain artificial colorings and wax. M&Ms at least offer a tiny amount of calcium and protein, and less sugar. 
  • Baby Ruth beats Snickers: There's no real winner here – Snickers has partially hydrogenated oil, and Baby Ruth has high-fructose corn syrup and the preservative TBHQ. Snickers loses out simply because the portion is larger, leaving room for more calories. 
  • Mounds beats Almond Joy: Mounds has a shorter ingredient list, and skips the partially hydrogenated oil found in Almond Joy. 
  • 3 Musketeers beats Hershey Milk Chocolate: The Hershey bar has that sneaky PGPR, while 3 Musketeers was unique among the candies surveyed in actually including real cocoa powder.
  • Whoppers beat Milk Duds: Milk Duds will stick to your (or your kid's) teeth, so they're a no-no for anyone with dental issues. Plus, the smaller Whoppers serving saves some calories. 

No matter which Halloween candies you give out, you can't control what comes home in your child's trick-or-treat bag. Regardless of which treats they bring home, limit them to eating two or three small treats at a time so they can enjoy their haul without gorging themselves (or making themselves sick).  

What is your favorite Halloween candy? Tell us in the comments section below.

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