Let's be honest: There's not a single piece of Halloween candy that's actually good for us. But, in the spirit of everything in moderation, we know you're likely to nibble on a few peanut butter cups or licorice sticks this season.
Still, it is possible to make smart choices when you're dipping into that trick-or-treat bounty. For starters, you can compare calories and fat. You can take a peek at the amount of total sugar. But because sugar and empty calories are going to be high in most options, you might venture further down the nutrition label to the ingredient list.
We've written before about some general rules of thumb when evaluating a list of ingredients. David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale Prevention Research Center and HuffPost blogger, says to look for "ingredients we know, recognize, can situate in some part of the plant or animal kingdom, and can pronounce."
When it comes to Halloween candies, we didn't find any that would pass the five-or-fewer test. And to make matters worse, a number of the top five ingredients in the most popular treats are sugar -- by one of its many other names.
We tallied up the ingredients in 15 classic candies, including runners up like candy corn with 14 ingredients and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with 13. With more than 15 ingredients, here are the worst offenders.
The crispy treat has <a href="http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/kit-kat-wafer-bars/milk-chocolate.aspx">15 ingredients</a>, including <a href="http://www.palsgaard.com/products/confectionery/pgpr/">PGPR</a>, a cost-saving chocolate emulsifier often used <a href="http://www.danisco.com/product-range/emulsifiers/grindstedr-pgpr/">instead of cocoa butter</a>. <blockquote>Sugar, wheat flour, nonfat milk, cocoa butter, chocolate, palm kernel oil, lactose, milk fat, soy lecithin, PGPR, yeast, vanillin, artificial flavor, salt, sodium bicarbonate</blockquote>
This chocolate sweet also has <a href="http://www.milkywaybar.com/facts_faq.shtml#question03">15 ingredients</a>: <blockquote>Sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, chocolate, lactose, milk fat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil and/or palm oil, cocoa powder processed with alkali, malted barley, salt, egg whites</blockquote>
The majority of the <a href="http://www.wonka.com/home.aspx/products">17 ingredients in Wonka Nerds</a> are artificial colors and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/other-names-for-sugar-maltose-dextrose_n_1874487.html">sugar by other names</a>. <blockquote>Dextrose, sugar, malic acid, corn syrup, artificial flavors, carnauba wax, carmine color, blue 1, blue 1 lake, blue 2, blue 2 lake, red 40, red 40 lake, yellow 5, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6, yellow 6 lake</blockquote>
There are <a href="http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/whoppers/milk-chocolate-malted-milk-balls.aspx">17 ingredients in Whoppers</a>, including a couple that are especially tricky to pronounce -- a big red flag. <blockquote>Sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whey, barley malt, wheat flour, milk, salt, sodium bicarbonate, cocoa, resinous glaze, sorbitan tristearate, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, calcium carbonate, tapioca dextrin</blockquote>
Don't let the "apple juice from concentrate" fool you into thinking that the <a href="http://www.wrigley.com/global/brands/skittles.aspx#panel-3">19 ingredients in Skittles</a> have some health value -- it's just a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/other-names-for-sugar-maltose-dextrose_n_1874487.html">sneaky way to say "sugar."</a> <blockquote>Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, apple juice from concentrate, citric acid, dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, yellow 6 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 2 lake, yellow 5, red 40, yellow 6, blue 1 lake, blue 1, ascorbic acid</blockquote>
Among the 19 ingredients we counted on a Butterfinger label is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/food-republic/6-ingredients-food_b_1400970.html">TBHQ, a form of butane</a>. Yes, as in lighter fluid. <blockquote>Corn syrup, sugar, ground roasted peanuts, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cocoa, molasses, whey, confectioner's corn flakes, nonfat milk, salt, lactic acid esters, soy lecithin, soybean oil, cornstarch, artificial flavors, TBHQ, citric acid, yellow 5, red 40</blockquote>
They look harmless enough, but Twizzlers Strawberry Twists contain <a href="http://www.thehersheycompany.com/brands/twizzlers-twists/strawberry.aspx">20 ingredients</a>, including glycerin, which is also used in some soaps. <blockquote>Corn syrup, flour, niaicin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, sugar, cornstarch, palm oil, salt, artificial flavor, mono- and diglycerides, citric acid, potassium sorbate, red 40, mineral oil, soy lecithin, glycerin</blockquote>
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