Healthiest candy options for Halloween
SUMMARY: With a candy-covered holiday around the corner, it's time to discover the best treat options for you and your mouth.
Posted: October 23, 2013
As Halloween quickly approaches, we start to crave treats more and more. This sugar-saturated holiday is not just for kids, however. Despite how much we may try to hide it, adults enjoy a good chocolate bar as much as the kid who showed up at your door dressed as the giant M&M last October. Well, maybe not as much as him, but the fact remains that four out of five adults admit to eating their children's candy each Halloween, according to BostInno.
No matter what we do, it's inevitable that we rip open a fun-size chocolate bar or two during Halloween. So, what are the healthiest options for you and your mouth?
Dark chocolate candy bars
Dark chocolate is oozing with health benefits. First off, cocoa contains flavonoids, or antioxidants, which prevent bacteria from becoming acids that wear away at dental enamel. The pure vegetable oil of cocoa butter helps coat your teeth to protect against dental plaque. Good riddance, cavities. Moreover, dark chocolate gives a boost to the entire body.
According to a report led by Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy's National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, the antioxidants in dark chocolate destroy free radicals, which are harmful molecules implicated in heart disease and other health conditions. Serafini examined two sets of men and women, allotting the first group a two-week diet containing dark chocolate and the second white chocolate. Those who ate dark chocolate showed a substantial drop in blood pressure, while patients who consumed white chocolate did not. Additionally, dark chocolate helped to produce a much higher amount of antioxidants.
Move over, milk and white chocolate. These inferior kinds of cocoa do not have the same benefits. The take-away from this? Darker chocolate is healthier.
Non-citrus sugar-free hard candy
Of course, it may seem obvious to go the sugar-free route, but bailing on the acidic lemon drops or sour suckers is also a plus for your teeth. Sour sweets are filled with enough acidity to erode the enamel, or shell of your teeth. Some may irritate gums and cheeks, which is a big reason they're considered a culprit of canker sores. These nasty little ulcers, though different than cold sores, can cause irritation for up to 10 days.
Surprisingly enough, certain sour candies lower the pH level of the mouth to such acidic levels that they rival those of battery acid.
Sugar-free gum with xylitol
Besides stimulating saliva production - which helps wash down food particles that cause tooth decay - sugar-free gum inhibits anaerobic bacteria, the kind that is responsible for bad breath. Indeed, gum is a little off-the-beaten path of traditional Halloween sweets, but it comes in so many flavors, sizes and colors that there's no excuse for turning your head to this palate-cleanser.
Xylitol, a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants, neutralizes pH levels in the mouth and can prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Both cleaning agents help reduce canker sores and get rid of cavities.
If you're still worried about other sugar-ridden kinds of candy, here's a tip: keep them out of sight, out of mind. Accessibility plays a big role in how much we desire something, or indulge in it. Have you ever noticed that if someone leaves out a bowl of snacks at the office, you're more likely to eat it? Well, duh. Because it's there, it's out and ready to be gobbled up. The same holds true for candy. Hide the candy from yourself - put it in a drawer or the back pantry so that it doesn't mock you the while you're chowing down on delicious dark chocolate.