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by Lexi Petronis, Glamour
Valentine's Day is coming at us like a runaway train covered in pink hearts and lace doilies! If you've been to any grocery store, pharmacy, or Target in the last month, you've probably seen enough Valentine's candies to give you a toothache. And I'd be lying if I said Valentine's Day wasn't at least partially about the candy--for me, at least. Valentine's Day, to me, usually means a teensy Whitman's Sampler--it's a tradition that my grandmother started and my mom and aunt carried on. I look forward to it every year.
But is it possible to get a V-Day candy fix... with candy that might even be slightly good for you (and your sweetheart)? I talked to Erin Palinski, R.D., C.D.E., L.D.N., registered dietitian and author of the forthcoming Belly Fat Diet for Dummies, to find out!
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"When you're buying candy, look for these things on the label. If you see them, don't buy the candy--because they can hurt your heart, prompt weight gain, and even cause allergic reactions," Palinski says. "Artificial or synthetic coloring/preservatives; partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats); corn syrup; saturated fat."
OK! Onto Erin's very tasty suggestions:
Chocolate: chocolate is as much a part of Valentine's Day as the chubby little cupid dude is. Says Palinski: "The catechins are flavonoids found in dark chocolate can help boost the immune system. Dark chocolate has also been shown to help improve circulation and decrease blood pressure, which may decrease the risk for heart attacks and stroke. In fact raw cocoa has been show to contain twice the amount of antioxidants as red wine and three times as many as green tea!"
* Best Chocolate Bet: Sweetriot Dark Chocolate Valentine's Gift Set. The chocolate is organic, fair trade, vegan, gluten- and GMO-free, and kosher. (Plus: it's really, really yummy!)
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Non-Chocolate Candy: Gummi cupids, conversation hearts, jelly beans, lollipops... many of them are fat-free. The only problem? "The main ingredient is usually sugar, and the candies have high amounts of artificial/synthetic colorings and high fructose corn syrup," Palinski says. "Also, there's little nutritional value--it's all empty calories."
* Best Non-Chocolate Bet: Surf Sweets Fruity Hearts. These have natural flavors and colors (like grape juice for taste and black carrot juice for color). They're entirely organic, gluten- and allergy-free, and also contain 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
"Diet" or "Sugar Free" Candies: You know the kind: they bear the label, but what's really lurking under the wrapper? "Sugar free chocolate often contains just as much--if not more--saturated fat," Palinski says (for example, Dove Sugar Free Dark Chocolate contains 10g of saturated fat--and 15g fat total). "And sugar free candies often contain artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, plus artificial or synthetic colorings."
*Best "Sugar Free" Bet: Caring Candy. This handmade candy has no artificial flavorings or colorings, and also a low glycemic index "to help promote blood sugar control," says Palinski.
So what's your favorite Valentine's Day candy? Are you giving any to someone special--or hoping to receive a certain kind?
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