CANDY. That word rolls off right off the tongue and into the brain to conjure images of brightly colored lollipops, chewy chocolate-coated caramel, and sweetly-sour gum balls. Combine candy with costumes and we get one of the most loved nights of the year – Halloween.

But for parents, Halloween means kids with a giant stash of unhealthy candy for weeks to come. One way to significantly lessen the health blow is by buying more natural versions of Halloween candy. The difference between natural Halloween candy ingredients and what you might typically find is vast.

Take candy corn for example-the natural version offers less of the bad stuff with non-GMO Tapioca, non-GMO Corn syrup, and coloring from pumpkins, carrots and apples. In contrast, traditional candy corn has GMO corn syrup, artificial flavors, and artificial colorings (Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Red 3).

“Not for individual sale” is how most Halloween candy is labeled, but if you could read the labels of the top 10 Halloween candies, here are some of the ingredients you’d find:

  • Artificial Flavors (synthesized in a lab)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (highly processed and tainted with mercury, usually from GMO corn)
  • Corn Syrup (highly processed, usually from GMO corn)
  • Partially hydrogenated Soybean Oil (trans fats)
  • Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil (trans fats)
  • Parables (hormone disruptor)
  • Artificial Coloring including Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2, Blue 2 Lake, Red 40, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 6 Lake.

On the other hand, more natural versions of Halloween candies have healthier ingredients like the following:

  • Organic coconut oil
  • Coloring from fruit and vegetable extracts such as carrot, beet, and pumpkin)
  • Non-GMO corn syrup
  • Organic or Non-GMO cane sugar
  • Cage-free egg whites
  • Honey
  • Organic Natural Flavors (derived from plant or animal sources with no synthetic solvents)

For Halloween, this week I stuffed the top shelf of my pantry with an assortment of natural Halloween candy – peanut butter cups, organic lollipops, and natural candy corn. After trick or treating, trading out the bad stuff for more natural versions is a tradition in our house. It pays to go for quality over quantity, because as much of an issue as sugar may be, it will never be as bad as putting synthetic chemicals in food. The less fake food kids eat, the better their health will be. The less fake food kids eat, the less fake food will continue to be put into our food supply.

– Angela C. Hind, M.D.

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