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Chew on This: What’s Hiding in Your Halloween Candy?

Posted Oct 12 2012 10:07pm

Halloween embodies those things that scare us mostcreepy characters, dark corners and the unknownbut what we should be most scared of is something that many of us happily embrace: Halloween candy. We are embarking on that time of year where one food-saturated holiday bleeds into another, and to kick them all off, we have Halloween, which promises an excess of sugar-heavy treats that contain a plethora of ingredients you really don’t want to put into your body.

Before you bite into a chewy chocolate treat or start sucking on a fruity lollipop, take a peek at the ingredients in the candy. Though this is true of any food you eat in general, at Halloween it’s more obvious than most other times of the year that we often ingest ingredients we can’t even pronounce. When you check out the ingredients, there are a few specific culprits that are particularly bad for you.

High fructose corn syrup is one of the most common ingredients in Halloween candy, and hard to avoid during this holiday, but it is in no way a healthy product for your body. Though research has shown that high fructose corn syrup is chemically similar to standard table sugar, there is debate about whether the body handles the two substances differently. Regardless, Halloween candy is packed with this stuff, and ingesting too much sugar can contribute unwanted calories linked to health problems such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high triglyceride levels.

Artificial colors and flavors (those substances labeled as Blue 1, Red 3, Yellow 5 and similar) may make candy look attractive and taste appealing, but a number of these ingredients have been linked to a variety of cancers and other adverse reactions such as hives and asthma attacks. Many of these ingredients have been banned in other countries, yet we continue to make them readily available for consumption, especially at Halloween.

Many of the mini candy bars that are distributed during this holiday are laden in trans fat, which raises your “bad” cholesterol and lowers your “good” cholesterol. In recent years, food manufacturers have used less of this product because there are dire healthy consequences if too much trans fat is consumed, yet candy is prone to this ingredient.

Though it may seem counter intuitive, in order to balance out the amount of sugar found in many types of candy, there is also a staggering amount of sodium, or salt, used in these treats as well. A large amount of salt in a diet also has health risks, the most common of which are high blood pressure and stroke.

Finally, have you ever noticed that some pieces of Halloween candy are particular shiny? Well, they aren’t naturally beautiful. That shine comes from carnauba wax, which isn’t toxic necessarily, but do you really want to ingest something that is also a common ingredient in car wax, show polish, cosmetics, floor polish and surfboard wax?

Do everyone a favor and educate yourself about the nutritional content of the candy you’re giving out to children and consuming for yourself. This year, contain the scariest part of Halloween in a haunted house and avoid the terror of dangerous and unhealthy goodies.

During the month of October, The Specific Chiropractic is having a howling good time! Visit our EVENTS page to find out how you can celebrate Halloween with us!

Nelson, Jennifer K., RD, LD. “Nutrition and Healthy Eating.” MayoClinic.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-fructose-corn-syrup/AN01588 .

Pino, Darya. “5 Scariest Halloween Candy Ingredients You Should Avoid.” SummerTomato.com. (October 27, 2010) Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://summertomato.com/5-scariest-halloween-candy-ingredients-you-should-avoid/ .

“Trans fat is double trouble for your heart health.” MayoClinic.com. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032 .

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