Sweets aren’t meant to be healthy. But the idea that most candy, chocolate, gum and other packaged snacks are filled with petrochemicals and genetically modified ingredients is just disturbing. Not to mention, completely unnecessary.
Choosing Healthier Ingredients
Yes, candy made from truly natural ingredients can still lead to cavities and sugar-related health issues. But at the very least, these healthier ingredients are safer than the artificial junk found in traditional candy. Natural candy also tastes just as good, if not better, than the harmful crap.
Next time you or the kids have a sugar craving, try some healthier versions of your favorite candy and see if you can tell the difference. You may have trouble finding healthier candy at your regular supermarket, but you should have no problem finding it in a health food store or online.
- Avoid chemicals or other harmful ingredients
- Look for words like “No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives” on the label. Artificial ingredients are derived from petroleum and/or chemicals and are linked to a wide range of health and behavioral issues.
- Be wary of candy that lists “natural flavors and colors” on the label, as this is actually a hidden mix of ingredients that, despite its safe-sounding name, may include chemicals and genetically modified crops. Makers of truly natural candy will happily tell you what their natural flavors and colors do and do not contain.
- Avoid genetically modified (GMO) ingredients
- Avoid candy that lists just plain “sugar” on the label, because most sugar actually comes from genetically modified sugar beets rather than sugar cane. Instead look for candy that specifically lists cane sugar, evaporated cane juice or sugar from [tooltip tip=”Israeli sugar beets are not genetically modified, while most U.S. sugar beets are.”]Israeli sugar beets[/tooltip].
- Most corn, soy and canola in the U.S. is also genetically modified. Avoid candy that lists high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin or canola oil on the label. However, you can safely choose candy & foods with these these ingredients if they are specifically listed as “organic” or “non-GMO”.
- Choose healthier candy
- Look for a short and easy-to-read ingredient list.
- Look for real food sweeteners such as cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey.
- Choose candy that is colored and flavored with real food such as fruits, vegetables and their extracts. For example, look for natural colorants such as purple carrots, black currants and pomegranates. And natural flavor ingredients such as lemon extract, oil of wintergreen, vanilla bean or ginger extract.
- While the stevia plant is completely natural, it requires heavy processing to become the sweetener found on shelves and in foods. That said, stevia is the least synthetic of the no-calorie sweeteners available today, so do choose it over other artificial sweeteners, if you cannot (or choose not to) consume other natural sweeteners.
Real food is not meant to last for years. Instead of adding chemical preservatives, truly natural candies and foods will often have an expiration date stamped on the label. This is a good thing!
Good To Know
- Candy that is labeled as 100% Organic will not contain any synthetic ingredients.
- Candy labeled as Organic (and not specifically 100% Organic) may contain some synthetic ingredients (up to 5%), however it will still not contain any GMOs.
- Candy that carries the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal has been independently tested to ensure the food is free from genetically modified ingredients.