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Which Halloween Treats Are Healthiest?

No, it's not an oxymoron. Some candies are nutritionally better than others.

This time of year, with its rich autumn foods and teeth-rotting sweets, can bring along unwanted poundage.

It’s a great time to practice triage on the Halloween candy your kids collect around the neighborhood.

No one wants to get a granola bar or dried fruit in their jack-o-lantern bonbon baskets, and with these tips you won’t have to settle for rabbit food or raisins this year in order to keep healthy.

Dietitian Gloria Tsang, author of the new book Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss and founder of nutrition network HealthCastle.com, said you can make a few simple wise choices to keep your kids from going into a sugar coma this trick-or-treat season.

"With big differences in calories, sugar, and quality of ingredients used, it's just not true that all Halloween candy is the same," Tsang stated in a press release. "None of them are exactly good for you, but we've done some close analysis of common competitors to see which options are best from a nutrition perspective."

Here are HealthCastle.com's candy cheers and jeers:

  • PayDay over Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: Reese’s Cups contain polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), a commercial emulsifier used to reduce cocoa butter. PayDay is the only candy to list peanuts, not sugar, as the first ingredient.   
  • Kit Kat over Twix: They're similar in calories and sugar (and both include PGPR), but Twix’s ingredient list is long. Also, Twix is marketed as a biscuit topped with caramel and chocolate, but there’s no caramel on the ingredient list.
  • M&Ms over Skittles: Both contain artificial colorings and wax. M&Ms offer a small amount of calcium and protein and less sugar. 
  • Baby Ruth over Snickers: There's no real winner here — Snickers has partially hydrogenated oil, and Baby Ruth has high-fructose corn syrup and the preservative TBHQ. Snickers loses out simply because the portion is larger and so more caloric. 
  • Mounds over Almond Joy: Mounds has a shorter ingredient list and does not have the partially hydrogenated oil found in Almond Joy. 
  • 3 Musketeers over Hershey’s Milk Chocolate: The Hershey bar has PGPR, while 3 Musketeers includes real cocoa powder.
  • Whoppers over Milk Duds: Milk Duds will stick to your teeth, so they're a no-no for anyone with dental issues. Whoppers’ smaller serving size saves some calories. 

Tsang suggests limiting kids to eating two or three small treats at a time to avoid getting sick.

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