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Candy and Confections

Find information about candy and confections, and healthier alternatives to full-sugar varieties.

Some candy and confections are healthier to eat than others. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Some candy and confections are healthier to eat than others.

Candy and Confections

Everyone has a sweet tooth curable with sweet candy and confections. While these treats might curb a sweet craving, they don't help the waistline. However, there are healthy alternatives to overly sweet high-calorie candies and confections. Some of these nontraditional candies are available at local supermarkets, while other healthy candies are available for order through specialty shops.

Types of Healthy Candy

According to Forbes, the National Confectioners Association quotes a 34.4 percent increase in diet candy and gum sales in 2004, with only a 6 percent increase for regular candy sales. But what are the healthy candy and confections on the market, and how can someone find out if the candy tastes good?

Many of the common candy companies such as Mars and Hershey have healthy or sugar-free snacks available at grocery stores. Dark chocolate is an antioxidant with proven health benefits, so any candy made with dark chocolate is a good choice. One example of a healthy dark chocolate treat is dark chocolate covered peanuts.

Other types of healthy candies include:

  • Candies with nuts, such as almond M&Ms.
  • Candies naturally sweetened with cane juice or molasses.
  • Candies with electrolytes added in.
  • Candies with peppermint and fruits that taste like confections, like chocolate covered figs.

How to Choose a Healthy Candy

With so many new healthy candies appearing on the market, it can be hard deciding which candy offers the most health benefits. The easiest way to determine the health benefits of a particular candy is to understand what advantages the candy offers. According to Cleveland Clinic, dark chocolate has the highest levels of flavonoids, which are proven to help the blood and the heart. So for a heart-healthy candy, indulging in a small amount of dark chocolate each week is a good option.

Chocolate-covered figs are a great choice for adding fiber into the diet while indulging in a sweet treat. Figs also have tons of minerals, including potassium, iron and calcium. Choosing fig bars with almonds or other nuts adds even more nutrition, since nuts provide the heart and body with healthy fats. Candies sweetened with natural sweeteners, such as cane juice, fruit juice or molasses, can help with inflammation. A person suffering from arthritis would benefit from candies that don't use regular sugar, since the "sugar high" experienced from too much sugar can cause inflammation.

Candies that use peppermint flavoring or natural peppermint oil are beneficial for reducing stress. Women's Health Magazine suggests that the York Peppermint Pattie is one of the best candies on the market due to its low calorie content and peppermint flavoring.

How to Make Healthy Candy and Confections at Home

By replicating some of the popular products on the market, it's not hard to make healthy candy at home. By melting down some dark chocolate and pouring it over figs or nuts, anyone can make a stash of good-for-you sweets. Mixing a little peppermint extract with cream cheese and powdered sugar makes a nice mint candy. Also, cooking at home adds the advantage of letting the cook control the amount of sugar used.

For diabetics needing a healthy alternative to sugared candies, making candies with a sugar substitute is a great way to make healthy candy at home. Fudge and lollipops are just two candy recipes that can use artificial sweeteners in place of sugar. With all of the available options for healthy candy, anyone can satisfy a sugar craving without excess calories or sugar.

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