The leaves are changing, the temperatures are dropping, and the kids are back in school, this can only mean one thing. Fall has officially begun. One of the biggest highlights to fall besides enjoying the incredible temperatures is the fun that Halloween brings. Children and adults get to dress up in costumes, enjoy parties either at homes or in school and eat delicious treats. It’s common for people to focus on unhealthy snacks this time of year (Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween), but it’s important to note that healthy snacks can be just as enjoyable.
We know avoiding traditional, unhealthy candy is the best option for our health. Besides the high sugar content, there are also other unwanted ingredients you might not want yourself or your children to consume. While it’s understandable that we may indulge a little this Halloween, maybe we should all think about fueling those splurges with healthier alternatives instead.
The SpOoKy Ingredients Inside Candy
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener made from corn and an alternative to sucrose (table sugar). Much of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, making high fructose corn syrup highly likely to be a GMO product.
- Saturated and Trans Fats
- Saturated fats come mainly from animal sources and can raise total blood cholesterol levels and LDL levels which can increase the risk for heart disease. While some trans fats occur naturally, most are artificial and made through the process of hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated trans fat can increase unhealthy LDL levels and may lower healthy HDL levels which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Hydrogenated Oils
- Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen to liquid oils to turn them into a solid form. Partially hydrogenated oils are full of trans fat which may negatively impact your heart health.
- Artificial Flavoring
- While natural flavors must be derived from plant or animal material, artificial flavors are synthesized in a lab.
- Synthetic Coloring
- Natural dyes have been used for centuries to color food; however, synthetic dyes can be mass-produced at a fraction of the cost. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have granted approval to just seven synthetic food colorings for use in food. These include; Blue #1, Blue #2, Green #3, Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6. Today, most synthetic food dyes are derived from petroleum, or crude oil.
- Chemical Emulsifiers & Preservatives
- These pertain to ingredients such as Polyglycerol polyricinoleate or PGPR and Tertiary Butylhydroquinone or TBHQ. These preservatives and emulsifiers may have detrimental health effects.
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Artificial sweeteners include acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose (splenda) and aspartame.
Make sure you leave some time this Halloween to be active. If possible walk from house to house when trick-or-treating instead of driving. Remember to be safe, wear reflective materials and walk on the sidewalk not in the streets.
Lifestyle Tips for a Healthier Halloween
- Just because you fill up an entire king size pillowcase with treats doesn’t mean you have to eat it all in one night or even one week. Moderate the intake of candy and other treats by setting limits and discussing with children beforehand how much they are allowed to eat.
- Balance the intake of candy with other healthy alternatives such as fruits, vegetables, crackers and pretzels.
- Don’t spend the night filling up on candy and junk foods. If you are having a party, give your guests some healthier alternatives and more nutrient-dense foods.
- Remember to eat a well-balanced dinner before trick-or-treating. This will prevent children from overeating candy and snacking throughout the night.
- Remember that there are healthier choices for candy which have less fat, calories and sugar content.
- Use smaller size bags that help to limit the amount of candy you collect.
- Store the leftover candy in places that are “out of the way” so you are less likely to indulge in a treat.
- There are plenty of options for parents and children besides throwing away leftover candy. You can donate to a local Ronald McDonald House, children’s hospital, or help support the troops by giving leftover candy to Operation Gratitude.