The Diet Detective: Halloween Candy Deconstructed

It's Halloween time—already. The costumes, the candy, the candy, the candy, and lots of it. It's the one time of year that even hard-core healthy eaters become pushers of the sugary stuff.

Candy Corn

This very popular Halloween candy has been around for more than 100 years, according to the National Confectioners Association. Aside from each piece costing 7.5 calories, I have to say that I was surprised by some of the ingredients—not exactly what I expected.
 
Nutritional Information: (per Candy Corn) 7.5 calories; 1.9 g carbs; 0 g fat; 0 g protein
 
Ingredients:
 
1. Sugar

Too much sugar is not a good thing; however, in many circles it's considered better than alternatives such as high-fructose corn syrup.
 
2. Corn Syrup

Another name for liquid sugar. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) Chemical Cuisine, corn syrup, which consists mostly of dextrose, is a sweet, thick liquid made by treating cornstarch with acids or enzymes. Corn syrup has no nutritional value.
 
3. Confectioner's Glaze

According to Luke LaBorde, Ph.D., a professor of food science and Penn State University, "It contains lac resin which is a secretion made by a certain beetle in Asia. Much like honey from bees, it is the product made by the insect that is collected and not the insect itself." Basically this is a food grade shellac and what creates the candy's hard coating.
 
4. Salt

Used as a preservative and for flavor. There is tremendous debate about whether salt can be detrimental to your health. In fact, the prestigious Cochrane Reviews recently published a review of seven studies and found that "cutting down on the amount of salt has no clear benefits in terms of likelihood of dying or experiencing cardiovascular disease."
 
5. Honey

A sweetener that helps with blood sugar control.

6. Dextrose

Dextrose, more often called glucose, is a type of sugar that is not very sweet.

7. Gelatin

This is the same thing used to make JELL-O. It's a protein acquired from animal hides and bones.
 
8. Titanium Dioxide

A food coloring that, according to Labelwatch.org, is generally safe. It creates a transparency in the food.
 
9. Yellow 6

According to CSPI: Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third most widely used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. In addition, small amounts of several carcinogens, such as 4-aminobiphenyl and benzidine (or chemicals that the body converts to those substances), contaminate Yellow 6. However, the FDA reviewed those data and found reasons to conclude that Yellow 6 does not pose a significant cancer risk to humans. Yellow 6 may cause occasional, but sometimes severe, hypersensitivity reactions.
 
10. Yellow 5

"The second-most-widely used coloring causes allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons, and triggers hyperactivity in some children. It may be contaminated with such cancer-causing substances as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl (or chemicals that the body converts to those substances)," according to CSPI's Chemical Cuisine.

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