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Halloween is the one night every year when adults get to channel their inner child. Sometimes that means dressing up in costume, but it most often translates to putting all healthy eating on pause for 24 hours and indulging in your favorite candy.
But have you ever taken a second to actually check the nutrition label on some of those treats? Not to be a buzzkill, but some of the ingredients swarming around these holiday-favorite classics aren’t what one would consider entirely nutritious.
Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t indulge every so often — you absolutely should. After all, “everything in moderation” is the golden rule for a reason. But what if there were healthier alternatives that could still curb that sweet tooth of yours come Halloween? Thankfully, there are a host of delicious treats capable of doing just that.
What should you avoid?
For recommendations on what to look for, we reached out to dietitian, Erika Villalobos, MS, MBA, RD, who helped break down the three major red flags to be aware of when shopping the candy aisle:
- Trans fats: Partially hydrogenated oils (and thus, trans fats) are made by solidifying liquid unsaturated fat by adding hydrogen to it. According to Villalobos, trans fats are “double trouble for your heart” as they increase your low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or otherwise known as bad cholesterol) and decrease your high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or good cholesterol).
- High fructose corn syrup: High fructose corn syrup is a highly processed sugar “that’s been linked to higher levels of obesity and diabetes,” Villalobos said. Look for candies that either have very low traces or zero high fructose corn syrup (as well as trans fats) such as Nestle Crunch Bars, Kit Kats, Reese’s Cups, Mounds, Twizzlers, Twix, and Haribo Gummy Bears.
- Color dyes: Vibrant color dyes may make candy attractive to the eyes, but they’re not meant to be eaten. Problem is, most candies have dyes in them, Villalobos told Insider. So, while buying organic candies without dyes is ideal, it’s not always possible to get around. “Part of celebrating [Halloween] is having some treats that you wouldn’t normally eat every day,” Villalobos says. Try to avoid them if you can, otherwise she recommends consuming them in moderation.
With those precautions in mind, we’ve rounded up a selection of healthy Halloween goodies that not only do well to avoid those red flags but can also satiate your sweet tooth, too.