Sugar: friend or foe?

With all the health food hype, many candies like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Twizzlers are being put to shame by dieticians. Because fats have the smallest recommended daily allowance, eating even one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup can mess up even the most dedicated dieter. With this in mind, I set to work trying to find healthier options.

I knew exactly where to go in the local Target to find candy (sad, isn’t it?), and I started my search. There, I found my two favorite candies: Twizzlers and, of course, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (I picked the miniatures so I wouldn’t feel like a glutton). I looked at the back of the packages to see what the serving size was, how many calories each had and how many grams of fat. In doing so, I discovered that a 44 gram serving of Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups (5 peanut butter cups) has 220 calories and 110 of them come from fat. There are 13 grams of fat in that same serving size. I was glad at this point that I had been cutting back on sweets as it were and went on to look at Twizzlers. A 45 gram serving of Twizzlers (about 4 pieces) has 150 calories and 10 of those calories come from fat. In that serving size, there is 1 gram of fat. Twizzlers aren’t as bad for you as Reeses cups, of course, but they’re still no friend to those on a low calorie diet. So, I continued my search for healthier options.

In the aisle I was in, I noticed that near the Twizzlers were Red Vine brand Sugar Free Vines. I quickly grabbed a bag, knowing that sugar is a carbohydrate and contributes greatly to the amount of calories. While Twizzlers, I know, are not that terrible for you, these Sugar Free Red Vines are even less bad for you. In a serving of 40 grams, which is about 7 twists (smaller than a Twizzlers Twist), there are only 90 calories, and NO calories from fat. Along with that are NO grams of fat whatsoever. I was glad to see that there was healthy option number one. How about those Reese’s cups?

Finding a Reese’s cup that can be considered healthy is virtually impossible, so I settled on searching for one that would just be healthier than the original. I scanned and I scanned, I looked and I looked…. I walked up and down the three aisles of candy several times before I decided to finish my quest somewhere I knew would have a healthier type of Reese’s cup: Walgreens. There, I scanned the candy isle and found the answer: Sugar Free Miniature Reese’s cups! I picked up the package and looked at the nutrition facts. With the same serving size as the original miniatures I had looked at, there were only 180 calories, as opposed to 220, though there was still the same fat content. So for those counting calories, they would be a better option, but if you’re really interested in your health, just steer clear of the Reese’s cups.

As far as taste goes, it was very easy to tell the difference between sugar free candy and regular candy. I tried all of the above mentioned candies and personally wasn’t terribly fond of the Sugar Free Vines. They tasted good, but they were so hard to chew it was hardly worth it. The sugar free Reese’s were pretty good, but just weren’t the same as a regular Reese’s. So if you’re interested in taste, I would just stick to smaller portions of normal candy. If you’re into your health, I would choose other fat free, sugar free candies that appeal to you instead of these two brands.

For information on recommended daily allowances and whether or not you’re meeting them, visit http://mypyramid.gov.

For information on nutrition facts and how to read them, visit http://www.fda.gov/.