Is there such a thing as healthy candy? – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

I’d like to hope so considering Halloween is right around the corner. After some serious consideration, I decided that doing my own research in the form of a taste test was probably not a good idea. So I turned to the internet (what have we done without it) and started researching healthy candy.

Did you know that cavemen extracted honey from beehives for its sweet taste? History takes candy back 3,500 years to the time of the Egyptians. There is even evidence that the Egyptians, Arabs and Chinese made sweets from fruits and nuts candied in honey. In the Middle Ages, the price of sugar made candy a delicacy only available to the wealthy. Chocolate, derived from cacao, was discovered in 1519 by Spanish explorers in Mexico. Boiled sugar candies were popular in seventeenth-century England and the American colonies. By the mid-1800s, more than 380 American factories were producing candy—mostly “penny candy” sold in bulk from glass cases in department stores. Candy production continued to grow in the 1900s with the discovery of sugar beet juice and improvements in production. Peppermints and hard candies were popular in 1900. Then it became gooey, creamy, crunchy and filled with chocolate. The idea was to make something new and something good, no one cared what was in it.

Now is the generation of obesity, high blood pressure and tooth decay, so serious attempts are being made to encourage people to eat healthier. Yes, candy makers are making changes and trying to provide healthier candy choices as well.

Sugar-free and low-sugar options have been around for a while. We see sugar-free or low-sugar in everything from gum to spaghetti sauce, as well as in our drinks and cereals. Even the candy industry has been offering sugar-free and low-sugar options for several years, and according to the National Confectioners Association in Vienna, Virginia, candy sales continue to increase, including those candies and gums considered sugar-free and healthier . So maybe diet candy is improving and mainstream?

Also, there’s a huge difference between candy that isn’t bad for you and candy that might be good for you. Could there be candy that is good for you? I’m thinking Zucchini Carrot 4 Bean Tarts. Nasty! We can push the envelope here.

However, some candies claim to be delicious and healthy, including gummy bears that “keep skin looking vibrant,” sugar-free sweets that fight tooth decay and heart-healthy chocolate.

For most people, we don’t usually eat candy because of its health benefits, the big question is usually how it tastes. We all know what diet food can taste like when they mess with the ingredients, often dry and gross, so we might as well be eating cardboard. Fortunately, times are changing. Healthy alternatives keep getting tastier, even with candy!

Some of the healthiest candies that made the top 10 list for being delicious include: Sparx candies by Xlear; CocoaVia by Mars, Inc.; Dr. Furman’s DateNut Pop’ems; Borba’s jelly beans and gummy bears; Detour by Next Proteins; Figamajigi; Natural Florida Fruit Snack from Au’some Snack; Hersey’s Sugar-Free Snacks; Spa Chocolate from Bissingers and Too Tarts from Innovative Candy Concepts.

I personally did not taste test these candies; they come from a Forbe magazine article called “The Healthiest Candies” and rates what consumers think are the best. In fact, I don’t even know what most of them are!

Straight out of the Halloween treat bag, you can enjoy two Hersey’s Miniature Dark Chocolate Bars for 88 calories and 5.2 grams of fat, two Twizzlers for less than 100 calories and no fat. A snack-size bag of Peanut M&Ms contains about 100 calories and 9.1 grams of fat. Three Tootsie Roll minis contain 70 calories and only 1.5 grams of fat.

Remember, we’re talking about candy, not one of the major food groups. Healthy candy is not healthy for you. Don’t get caught eating too much of it because it’s “reduced” in everything. Remember, everything is a matter of moderation, especially on and around Halloween.

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