As soon as you flip your calendar to October, it seems that candy is everywhere. And though we know that we should probably just step away, we're only human. But whatever you want, there is a better choice, say our experts. By Rosa Heyman, REDBOOK.
When you want peanut butter: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup vs. Butterfinger
It's Reese's for the win. "They have almost one third of the calories, 19 grams fewer carbs, and about one third of the saturated fat of a Butterfinger," says registered dietitian and Mom Dishes it Out author Laura Cipullo. More good news for Reese's: Since they're made with actual peanut butter, they contain 5 grams of protein, which helps to balance out their sugar content and keeps you satisfied for longer, says registered dietitian Amy Shapiro.
When you just want a classic chocolate bar: Hershey's bar vs. Dove bar
In terms of calories and saturated fats, these bars are nearly identical, so go ahead and nosh on your favorite. However, Shapiro notes that a Hershey's bar has slightly more sugar and two extra ingredients, so you may be slightly better off with a Dove bar. "The fewer ingredients, the better," she says.
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When you're feeling nutty: Snickers vs. PayDay
"If you're going to have a candy bar, choosing one with nuts is a smart move because they supply some satisfying, healthy fat," says Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. PayDay's 7 grams of protein make it a better option than a Snickers, which has only 4 grams of protein-not to mention that a PayDay contains significantly less saturated fats and sugars, and no partially-hydrogenated oil. "For an even healthier choice with the same indulgent taste, choose a fruit-and-nut bar like a Kind bar or Lara Bar Uber," adds Ansel.
When you want bittersweet: Black licorice vs. Twizzlers
It's always a good idea to stay away from fake foods, which, with corn syrup, artificial colorings, and lots of preservatives, is basically what Twizzlers are. If you're okay with the slightly medicinal taste of traditional black licorice, have it instead, says nutrition therapist and registered dietitian Limor Baum.
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When you're in the mood for fruity: Skittles vs. Starbursts
In spite of the difference in size, you're actually better off with Starbursts than Skittles. "Starbursts contain one third less sugar than Skittles, and are fat- and saturated fat-free," says Shapiro. "They also contain fewer artificial ingredients, hydrogenated oils, and artificial coloring." Don't be fooled by the amount of vitamin C in Skittles-it's listed as half of your recommended daily intake. "You'll get a whopping 3 teaspoons of sugar in return," Ansel says.
When you want a bite (or two…) of chocolate: Hershey's Kisses vs. M&Ms
This decision centers on the perennial issue of portion control. While Hershey's Kisses are individually wrapped-and therefore take a little longer to eat than a handful of M&Ms-it's hard not to make a serious dent in what's usually a large bag. Nonetheless, they lack the sugar- and artificial coloring-filled outer layer of candy of M&Ms, which works in their favor.
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When you want something sweet and tart: Smarties vs. Nerds
Cipullo excitedly told us that Smarties are the perfect cure to mindless eating. "Only 25 calories for one roll!" she exclaims. "Nerds have triple the calories in just 1 tablespoon of candy and contain three sources of sugar in the ingredients list, which is a lot for such a tiny product."
When you want a sucker: Jolly Rancher vs. Blow Pop
Though hard candies are less likely to damage your waistline since they take longer to consume, they are not friends to your teeth. "To minimize dental damage, choose a Jolly Rancher," says Baum. "A Blow Pop has a sweet, chewy, bubble-gum center, which glues sugar to your teeth as you chew on it." Three Jolly Ranchers contain almost the same number of calories as a single Blow Pop, meaning you can spread out your sucking, and enjoy them at a few different points during the day, says Shapiro
When you want something minty: York Peppermint Patty vs. Junior Mints
Though Junior Mints provide four times more iron, a York Peppermint Patty wins in terms of calories, saturated fats, and sugar-and gets bonus points for coming in an individual portion size. "Compared to a standard candy bar, a 140-calorie Peppermint Patty is a major calorie bargain, especially since it has only 2.5 grams of fat," says Ansel.
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