As we approach Halloween and the holiday season, allowing yourself or your kiddos some sweets and treats can totally be part of a balanced lifestyle! How can you make informed choices? Broaden your awareness of toxic ingredients to watch out for so you can feel empowered in the choices you’re making! I’ve done some of the work for you and listed below some common candy additives to watch out for (and the sneaky candies they’re still hiding in) as well as my top picks for healthier candy choices. Candy that can benefit your health seem too good to be true?! Some candies on my list even include health boosting additions like added fiber, turmeric and antioxidants 😀
The Top 5 Junky Candy Ingredients to Avoid:
- Artificial Food Dyes: Food colorings have been found in numerous research studies to be correlated with cancer, hyperactivity and allergy reactions.
- The most commonly used dyes include Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6; these can be found in skittles, jolly ranchers, smarties and sour patch kids.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: Linked in countless research studies to diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome, this heavily processed form of sugar is highly addictive and made from genetically modified corn.
- Where will you find it? Lifesavers and Baby Ruth bars
- Vegetable Oils: Since the recent outlaw of trans fats from foods this year (aka partially hydrogenated oils) many candies have been replaced with processed vegetable oils. The problem here is that many vegetable oils are laden with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as well as high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids. Look out for vegetable oils in the form of soybean oil, canola oil and peanut oils on ingredient lists. As a side note, the FDA has granted a one year extension for some companies who have found it difficult to find a replacement for trans fats in their products until July of 2019. Therefore, keep a lookout for partially hydrogenated oils still hidden in some packaged candies and foods!
- Almond Joy and Snickers bars
- TBHQ: a synthetic food additive used to extend shelf life; associated with increased incidence of tumors; possible association with ADHD and food allergy incidence
- Candy that contains it: Butterfingers and Reese’s cups
- Shellac: May be found on ingredient lists as resinous glaze or confectioner’s glaze; it makes up the shiny shell of various candies and it is derived from a resin secreted by a type of beetle; it is also used in sealants and varnishes for furniture
- Found in the coatings of colorful candies such as M&Ms and Skittles
PS for my gluten free peeps: Look out for ingredients such as yeast, natural flavors, flours, maltodextrin, caramel color and food starch; unless on the list specified above, those candies may contain gluten!
Did the information above inspire you to find healthier candy options free of all of the junk? The list below includes my favorite junk-free candies that are also free of gluten, artificial colors, flavorings, dyes and additives!
My Top Healthier Candy Picks:
1. Smart Sweets–the “healthified” take on swedish fish, gummy bears and sour patch kids we’ve all been waiting for! These are free of added sugar and any artificial sweeteners/colors/flavors in addition to being made in a dedicated gluten, peanut, tree-nut, dairy, soy and casein free-facility. They are just sweetened with a little bit of stevia-a natural sweetener derived from a leaf that does not stimulate a blood sugar spike. Bonus-these have prebiotic fiber added-a good source of “food” for your healthy gut bacteria to help them flourish!
2. UnReal Candy-A healthier take on some childhood favorites- M&Ms, peanut M&Ms and Reese’s cups-their colorful candies use natural food-based dyes from things like beets and turmeric! All of their tasty chocolate treats happen to be certified gluten free, fair trade, vegan, organic and free of GMOs.
3. Eating Evolved–Chocolate bars and nut butter cups, all products are certified organic, dairy free, gluten free, paleo, and vegan. All products have a simple ingredient list and sweeteners range from stevia to coconut sugar-a lower glycemic sweetener. The darker the better-the 100% coconut cacao bar is chock full of cancer fighting antioxidants!
4. Wholesome Candies-do you have a child with numerous allergies?! Not to fear-this company makes gummies, lollipops and jelly beans that are made and packaged in a facility free of the 10 most common food allergens, including dairy/casein, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, sesame and sulfites! They are also fair trade certified, corn syrup free and vegan.