Candies are sweet, sugary treats that can be hard to resist. Though often labeled as “junk food,” certain candies can offer some health benefits when enjoyed in moderation. Here is an overview of the potential perks and downsides of incorporating candies into your diet.
Antioxidants in Dark Chocolate
One of the biggest benefits of candy comes from dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant demonstrated to help lower blood pressure, improve heart health and reduce inflammation. The higher the cacao content of the chocolate, the more flavonoids it provides. Opt for chocolate with at least 70% cacao to maximize the benefits.
Just be sure to eat dark chocolate in moderation, as it still contains sugar and calories. Aim for a 1-2 ounce serving, a few times per week. Too much can negate the benefits of the antioxidants.
Throat Relief from Hard Candies
Hard candies like throat lozenges and cough drops can coat and soothe sore throats. The act of sucking on hard candy produces more saliva, which can ease throat pain and irritation. Menthol and other ingredients in some cough drops also suppress coughs.
During cold season, keeping some hard candies handy can provide symptom relief and make sore throats more bearable. This allows you to avoid over-the-counter medications when possible. Just don’t overdo the hard candies, as excess sugar can cause cavities.
Mental Health and Stress Relief
Eating candies, especially chocolate, may also provide mental perks. Small amounts of sweet treats can boost serotonin levels and improve mood. The act of savoring candy can reduce stress and induce feelings of relaxation.
In moderation, enjoying some candy as part of a self-care routine can satisfy cravings and make you feel emotionally better. Just be careful not to overindulge and contribute to health issues.
- Candies are generally high in sugar and provide empty calories with little nutritional value. Eating too many candies can lead to weight gain, tooth decay and other health issues.
- However, some candies, like dark chocolate, have antioxidants and other compounds that may provide some health benefits when eaten in moderation. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that act as antioxidants and may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
- Hard candies can help coat and soothe sore throats. Cough drops with menthol and other ingredients can help suppress coughs. So enjoying some candies occasionally when sick can provide symptom relief.
- A small amount of candy as part of an overall healthy diet is unlikely to have major negative health effects for most people. But moderation is key, as overdoing sweets and candy can lead to health problems over time.
- For children, be mindful of cavities, sugar crashes and lack of nutrition when giving candies. Reserve candy as an occasional treat, not a daily habit.
Potential Downsides of Too Much Candy
The key with candy is moderation. Eating too much can lead to the following downsides:
- Weight gain – Candy is high in sugar and calories without nutrients. Overdoing it leads to excessive calorie intake.
- Cavities – Hard and sticky candies linger on teeth, promoting bacteria growth and decay.
- Blood sugar spikes – High glycemic index candies cause blood sugar highs then crashes. Not good for diabetics.
- Nutritional deficits – Candy displaces healthier foods providing protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
To keep the negatives to a minimum, consume candies in small portions and infrequently. Always brush after eating candy to protect teeth. For children, reserve as an occasional treat, not a daily snack. Moderation and balance is key.
Candy and Children
- For children, it’s best to give candy in moderation as an occasional treat. Don’t make daily candy habits.
- Be mindful of safety – avoid hard candies as choking hazards for young kids. Monitor them while eating any candies.
- Try offering healthier candy alternatives like fruit snacks or dark chocolate as they have less sugar.
- Don’t use candy as a reward – this sets up an unhealthy relationship with sweets. Praise good behavior in other ways.
- Schedule timely brushing after eating sweets to avoid cavities. Fluoride treatments can also help strengthen kids’ tooth enamel.
Blood Sugar Effects
- Eating lots of high glycemic candies can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, especially problematic for diabetics.
- Look for low glycemic options like chocolate with nuts or fiber-rich fruit snacks to help control blood sugar response.
- Pair candies with protein, fat or fiber to help steady blood sugar levels. For example, trail mix with chocolate chips.
- For those limiting sugar, try sugar-free gum, mints, or candy made with xylitol or erythritol. But be mindful that excess may cause gastrointestinal issues.
- Naturally sweet snacks like fruit, yogurt, or trail mix can satisfy sweet cravings with more nutrition.
- For chocolate cravings, cacao nibs provide chocolate flavor without added sugar.
The Bottom Line
Candies can offer unique health benefits when consumed judiciously. Dark chocolate provides antioxidants that boost cardiovascular health. Hard candies can ease throat irritation and coughing. A small amount of candy in your diet likely causes minimal harm. Just be sure candy does not become a dietary staple at the expense of healthier choices. By keeping your candy consumption in check, you can enjoy the sweetness without sacrificing your wellbeing.