First, put candy out of sight, like in the back of your pantry, or in the freezer, says Gorin. When it’s not staring you in the face, “you’re not constantly tempted by it,” she says. Eating it as a planned part of dessert rather than when you’re running around or doing other things — like working, or driving in the car — will help you truly enjoy it. Of course, you can and should enjoy festive candy, but there comes a point where it loses its luster and you may be eating it out of habit, so get rid of it after a week, Gorin advises.
Above all else, choose what you like best. (Yes, even regardless of the best and worst choices below!) If you truly enjoy what you’re eating, you’ll be satisfied by it. That means don’t let “fat-free” labels or calorie counts sway you from what you truly know you want. Mia Syn, RDN, who’s in private practice in Charleston, South Carolina, puts it simply: The best candy choice is the one you can eat and enjoy in moderation.
Now onto the sweet stuff. Here are the healthiest (and least healthy) candies, per Gorin and Syn:
The 6 Healthiest Candy Options
1. UnReal Milk Chocolate Gems
“I’m really impressed with these,” says Gorin. “The candy contains no artificial flavor or color, and the coloring comes from natural sources, like hibiscus and turmeric.” Because these contain a fair amount of sugar, though, you’ll want to stick with the mini 0.42-ounce (oz) bags, which are available on Amazon and make the perfect single serving.
What’s Inside 140 calories per oz, 7g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 18g carbohydrate, 15g sugar, 3g protein
UnReal Milk Chocolate Gems Nutrition Info
two. Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bites
These chocolates are low on the sugar scale, and two squares contain 3 grams (g) of fiber, too. That’s because the high level of cocoa (88 percent) means the the sugar content is lower. What’s more: “Research shows regularly eating a small amount of dark chocolate may help heart health by lowering risk of heart disease and stroke,” says Gorin. But again, be sure to enjoy in moderation, as these treats also contain saturated fat, which can instead be harmful to your heart if eaten in excess, according to the American Heart Association. The organization recommends taking in no more than 13 g of saturated fat per day.
What’s Inside 120 calories for two pieces, 9g fat, 6g saturated fat, 8g carbohydrate, 2g sugar, 2g protein
Dark Chocolate Bites with 88 percent Cocoa Nutrition Info
3. Peanut M&M’s
It’s got peanuts, which means you’ll get protein and fiber, which help prevent blood sugar spikes and overindulging, says Syn.
What’s Inside 90 calories per “fun-size” pack, 5g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10.5g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 1.5g protein
M&M’s Peanut Fun-Size Chocolate Candies Nutrition Info
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surprised? Although Snickers is relatively higher in calories than other candy, Gorin recommends a “fun-size” bar because it’s more likely to leave you satisfied, thanks to its filling protein. “It also has less sugar than some other candies that are almost entirely pure sugar,” she says.
What’s Inside 80 calories per “fun-size” bar, 3.5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 11g carbohydrate, 9g sugar, 1g protein
Snickers Original Fun-Size Nutrition Info
5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
The satisfying combo of protein and (a small amount of) fiber makes this another good pick, says Gorin. Plus, around the holidays, it’s easy to find single cups (whereas they’re usually packaged as a double).
What’s Inside 110 calories per PB cup, 6.5g fat, 2g saturated fat, 12g carbohydrate, 11g sugar, 2.5g protein
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Nutrition Info
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6. blow pop
For the non–chocolate lovers, a Blow Pop can be a practical pick. “It has less sugar than many of the other candies out there, and because of the gum center, you can enjoy it for longer,” says Gorin.
What’s Inside 70 calories per pop, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 17g carbohydrate, 13g sugar, 0g protein
Charm’s Blow Pops Nutrition Info
The 5 Least Healthy Candy Options
one. candy corn
It has a reputation as being one of the most hated candies, and an October 2018 CandyStore.com survey on the best and worst Halloween candy suggested this festive confection is indeed the second-most hated — second to Circus Peanuts. But regardless of whether you agree, candy corn certainly isn’t the most nutritious way to satisfy your sweet tooth. “It contains more than double the sugar of a Snickers or Reese’s,” says Gorin.
What’s Inside 110 calories for 15 pieces, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 22g sugar
Candy Corn Halloween Candy Nutrition Info
Yes, they’re low in calories, but those are purely empty calories, meaning “it’s devoid of nutrition,” says Syn. “They give your body energy it needs from calories but not the nutrition it needs, like protein and fiber,” she says.
What’s Inside 25 calories for 1 roll, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 6g carbohydrates, 6g sugar, 0g protein
Smarties Candy Rolls Nutrition Info
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3. gummy bears
Again, it’s pure sugar, so it’s unlikely to keep you as satisfied as chocolate, says Gorin.
What’s Inside 140 calories for 17 pieces, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 33g carbohydrates, 18g sugar, 2g protein
Haribo Goldbears Gummy Bears Nutrition Info
Four. Jelly Beans
The package may get you because it says it’s fat free, but unless you absolutely love jelly beans — and can keep your portion reasonable — they’re still just sugar, says Gorin.
What’s Inside 100 calories per oz, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 25g carbohydrates, 20g sugar, 0g protein
Starburst Jellybeans Original Nutrition Info
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Packed with artificial colors and flavors and pure sugar, these may take you back to when you were a kid, but they won’t satisfy.
What’s Inside 60 calories per bar, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 15g carbohydrates, 11g sugar, 0g protein
Airheads Nutrition Info