Halloween warning as ‘healthy’ candies that boast about having less sugar contain additives that cause ‘gas, belly bloat and abdominal pain after consuming even one serving’
With Halloween quickly approaching, the candy aisles are flooded with sweet treats packed with calories, sugars and additives.
Several brands have promoted “healthier” options that market themselves as a more virtuous alternative, using health-related terms like “no added sugar,” “dentist-approved” and “free from scary ingredients.”
However, a survey by DailyMail.com found five ‘healthy’ candy brands that aren’t necessarily a better alternative.
Not only are they twice as expensive as regular candies (up to $10 for a small bag), some contain additives linked to digestive problems, while others are packed with more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut.
Camilla Gray, a nutritional therapist in the UK, told DailyMail.com: ‘Sweets are not a health food so they should not be branded as such. Clever marketing phrases like ‘organic,’ ‘vegan,’ ‘low sugar,’ ‘sugar-free’ or ‘gluten-free’ make parents think that’s better or more nutritious, but that’s simply not the case.”
Several brands have promoted “healthier” options that they claim are allergy-friendly, keto-friendly and dentist-approved. However, research from DailyMail.com has found that five ‘healthy’ candy brands still contain harmful ingredients and additives
Experts told DailyMail.com that ‘traditional sweets have very little or no nutritional value’
Other experts have accused the food companies of “health abuse.”
“It’s cheating the consumer,” says Sapna Bhalsod, a registered dietitian at nutrition company WellTheory. “It makes them think, oh, this is healthy, maybe consuming this candy won’t have any consequences.”
Here are five ‘healthy’ sweets that are anything but…
VEGAN ‘M&M’S’ WITH AS MUCH SUGAR AS A DONUT
No whey! Choco No No’s Minis contain 14 grams of sugar
Choco No No’s “milky chocolate candies” are a “dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan” alternative to M&Ms, which cost $2.95 per pack (twice as much as the real deal).
The company’s website assures customers that they can “snack with pleasure knowing your treat is vegan and all-natural.”
While these chocolates may not contain artificial flavors, they do contain a whopping amount 14 grams of sugar – three and a half teaspoons and almost 50 percent more than a Krispy Kreme. Donut or two Chips Ahoy! cookies.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to about six to nine teaspoons per day to reduce the risk of tooth decay and weight-related problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Plus, a 1.6-ounce pack contains only 10 fewer calories than the same size pack of M&Ms – and excess calories lead to weight gain.
THE SUGARY TRADES MADE WITH GREEN ALGAE
All sweets in this varied package contain between two and four teaspoons of sugar
Yum Earth’s Halloween Variety Pack costs $23.99, and includes a selection of the brand’s bestsellers: Organic Gummy Fruits, Organic Pops and Organic Giggles – chewy, bite-sized candies.
Yum Earth claims on the packaging that its products are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and, oddly enough, fish-free.
They are also all organic, vegan, non-genetically modified and contain no artificial colors.
However, all sweets in the variety pack contain between eight and ten grams of added sugars. This is up to four teaspoons, about one-third of the American Heart Association’s daily recommended limit of six teaspoons for women and nine for men.
They also contain the trendy supplement spirulina, made from blue-green algae. If it grows in water bodies contaminated with heavy metals or bacteria, it may be contaminated with toxins.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), blue-green algae can interact with diabetes and immunosuppressive medications, making them less effective.
‘HEALTHIER’ PEANUT BUTTER CUPS WITH MORE CALORIES THAN A COOKIE
Unreal peanut butter cups contain only 20 calories more than a Reese’s version.
Unreal claims its Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups contain 36 percent less sugar than competitors like Reese’s.
In terms of sugar, they are superior, with four times less than Reese’s. However, due to the dark chocolate, palm oil, and peanuts in these candies, they still contain 80 calories each, which is only 20 less than a Reese’s and only slightly less than two Chips Ahoy! cookies.
The candy, which costs $6.79 for a 4-ounce bag, also contains inulin, a prebiotic that helps support the growth of healthy gut bacteria. However, it has also been linked to digestive complaints.
‘KETO WITH 20 GRAMS CARBOHYDRATES
Although the candy claims to be keto-friendly, meaning it contains little or no carbs, it still contains 20 grams of carbs
Taffy is known to get stuck in your teeth, which can lead to cavities, gum disease and jaw pain.
But Zolli Zaffi’s Keto Taffy, which costs about $9.99 for a 3-oz bag, is “approved by parents, dentists and teachers” and “won’t stick to your teeth,” according to the website.
On the front of the package there is a label that says: ‘The after-you-eat treat for a healthy smile!’ However, it is not clear what it is about the candy that prevents this.
This toffee has replaced the sugar per five candies with 20 grams of the artificial sweeteners erythritol and xylitol. Some research has suggested erythritol may be linked to an increased risk of weight gain, and many sweeteners are known to alter the healthy bacteria in our gut, leading to digestive symptoms such as constipation, bloating and diarrhea.
“These sugar alternatives can wreak havoc on our digestive system and intestines,” Ms Bhalsod said.
Although the candy claims to be keto-friendly — meaning it contains little or no carbs — it still contains 20 grams of carbs per five candies. The Mayo Clinic recommends that low-carb diets stick to a daily limit of 20 to 57 grams, leaving little room for carbohydrates eaten the rest of the day.
“Perhaps this sweet could be considered keto-friendly if this is the only carbohydrate you eat that day,” Ms Bhalsod said. “That’s usually not the case.”
HARD CANDY THAT CAN GIVE YOU BAD GAS
Although allulose is low in calories, it has been linked to intestinal-like bloating, gas and diarrhea
‘Healthy’ candy brand SmartSweets says in promotional videos that they are ‘moving away from sugar’, with their products also eliminating artificial sweeteners.
The various candies come in colorful bags and include gummies in the shapes of watermelons, worms and bears. The brand also sells hard candies, lollipops and chewy caramels.
Despite the claims, some varieties still contain some sugar — for example, the sweet chews, which cost $3.99 for a 1.6-ounce bag, contain three grams — just less than a teaspoon.
Plus, 1 ounce of SmartSweets caramel still contains 140 calories – just 10 fewer than a Twinkie.
The candies also contain the natural sweetener allulose, which is found in raisins, figs, jackfruit, maple syrup and molasses.
Allulose is low in calories but has been linked to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea when eaten in large quantities.