We're Trading Tootsie Rolls and Dum-Dums For Healthier Candies

woman eating candy

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We realize that "candy" and "healthy" don't exactly go hand-in-hand. And since we also know firsthand just how powerful the pull for candy can be after a long day, we wanted to figure out how to indulge in gummies, chocolate, and lollipops without feeling too guilty (and sick).

Most of the candy on drugstore shelves is loaded with chemicals, calories, and fat, but that doesn't mean we have to give up our favorite sugary treats. If you consider yourself a candy addict and want to take a healthier approach to your sweet tooth, we've got you covered. From naturally flavored fruit snacks to antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, these healthy alternatives will make for a guilt-free midnight snack.

Hu Chocolate Bars

Hu Chocolate bundle
Hu Chocolate Bar $6

Paleo and vegan, these chocolate bars are undeniably delicious. While the nutritional values may be only slightly healthier than those of a milk chocolate Hershey bar (the former has 18 grams of sugar and the latter has 24), Hu chocolate bars are significantly better for you because they're made with healthier ingredients, including organic cacao, unrefined organic coconut sugar, and organic fair-trade cocoa butter. Hershey bars, on the other hand, are made with cane sugar, milk, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, and lecithin. Hershey bars also boast 35 milligrams of sodium while Hu bars have 25.

SmartSweets Sourmelon Bites

Sourmelon Bites
SmartSweets Sourmelon Bites, Pack of 6 $20

SmartSweets' founder Tara Bosch admits, "I started SmartSweets after my love affair with candy turned into an unhealthy relationship with food, and I experienced the negative effects excess sugar has on our health." If you, too, have a powerful love for candy but don't like the way you look or feel after downing a handful of gummies, you'll love everything on SmartSweets' website.

The Sourmelon Bites are made without sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, and added sugar, and they're gluten-free and non-GMO. They're mainstream counterpart, Sour Patch watermelon chews, are definitely less healthy. In fact, nine pieces have 120 calories, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 25 grams of added sugar. Enter: Tara's Sourmelon Bites. Twenty of these chewy treats contain 100 calories, no fat, milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, and only 3 grams of sugar. They also have 13 grams of fiber per bag!

If you're feeling a little backed up, these gummies may help because one bag is loaded with fiber. However, if you aren't having any digestive issues, a few of these could upset your stomach. We suggest having only a few at a time versus downing the whole bag in one sitting.

Ketolicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs
Ketolicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs, Pack of 12 $30

Don't get us wrong, we love Reece's mini peanut butter cups, but we're not really into the info we discovered on the label. For instance, three miniature cups have 14 grams of sugar, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 80 milligrams of sodium. One piece of Ketolicious' version has no sugar, three grams of carbohydrates, and 35 milligrams of sodium. Plus, it's made with coconut oil, peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and stevia.

Trust us; if you read the ingredients list on a package of Reece's, you may never eat them again. A few of the ingredients include citric acid (for freshness), TBHQ (a preservative), dextrose (an artificial sweetener), and PGPR (an emulsifier).

Unreal Chocolate Gems

chocolate gems
Unreal Chocolate Gems $4

Unreal's mission includes "finding just the right veggies for our colors, paying farmers fairly, and sourcing non-GMO and sustainable ingredients." While 36 Unreal pieces contain 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, no sodium, and 15 grams of sugar, 11 M&Ms have 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, and 18 grams of sugar. We're blown away by those numbers and ordering a few bags of Unreal's gems. Did we mention they're made with organic cocoa butter, organic quinoa, and colored using beetroot, carrot, and hibiscus juices?

Yum Earth Organic Assorted Flavor Lollipops

Lolli pops
Yum Earth Organic Assorted Flavor Lollipops $3

Lollipops are great because as much as you love them, you can't exactly gobble them down the way you can gummies or chocolate. These pops are USDA organic, non-GMO, gluten- and nut-free, vegan, and kosher. Three of these flavorful snacks have 60 calories, no fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of sugar. On the other hand, two Dum-Dums have 50 calories, no fat, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and 9 grams of sugar.

In comparison, they don't seem too different, but while Dum-Dums are made with sugar, corn syrup, citric acid, artificial flavor, and, in some flavors, dye Red 40, which can cause hypersensitivity reactions. 

Yum Earth lollipops are made with organic cane sugar, organic brown rice syrup, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and natural flavors. They're also colored with carrot, apple, and blackcurrant concentrate. Some flavors use turmeric or organic annatto.

Article Sources
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  1. National Library of Medicine. "Toxicology of food dyes." 2012

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