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Pros and Cons of Sugar Free Candy

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Updated May 19, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you're wondering whether sugar free candy is an option for you, here are a few points to ponder:

  • Sugar free candy will provide fewer carbs and calories than regular candy, although sometimes just slightly fewer. So if you're watching carbs or calories, you still need to be mindful not to overdo it. Read the nutrition label in order to keep track of how many total carbs and calories you take in.

  • Sugar alcohols (like maltitol) are often used in sugar free candy. While sugar alcohols are great for lowering the carbohydrates and calories in a food -- they contain 1-4x less calories than sugar -- they also have some possible negatives. The most common negative side effect is bloating and diarrhea. The American Diabetes Association claims that sugar alcohols are acceptable in a moderate amount, but should not be eaten in excess. So, it really depends on how well you tolerate them as to whether or not you can eat them.
  • Sugar free doesn't mean fat free. Sugar free chocolate candies in particular may be high in saturated fat, which is found in cocoa butter. So be especially mindful when eating sugar free chocolates if you have heart disease, are overweight, have diabetes, or have any other reason to be careful about your fat intake.

  • For some people, continuing to eat sweet things just leads to more cravings of sweet things: some people are satisfied with a tiny little bit of candy, but others just want more and more. If you're one of the latter group, it might be worth it to give quitting candy a try and seeing if your cravings change.

  • About the Taste: It's totally personal, so this is my opinion. I think sugar free gum, mints, and hard candies usually always taste good, but sugar free chocolates are hit-or-miss. When it comes to chocolate, I'd prefer to eat a small amount of the real thing. Better yet, I prefer to skip the candy and go for a snack that blends chocolate with other ingredients that contain healthy fiber and protein. Here's one to try: Homemade Granola

For more ideas on alternatives to candy on Halloween, check out: Ideas for a Healthy Halloween

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