Brightly-colored Skittles candies offer a low-fat, fruit-flavored alternative to the standard chocolate bar. Despite their low-fat status, these chewy sweets contain a large amount of sugar, and should be consumed in small amounts. While Skittles and other candy products can fit into most healthy diets, make sure to balance your sweet tooth with proper nutrition to maintain your health and weight.
A standard pack of Skittles candy weighs 57 grams and contains 230 calories, according to the Mars Company website. Each package includes just 2.5 grams of fat, though all of this fat is saturated. Skittles also contain 42 grams carbohydrates per package, all in the form of sugar. While this candy contains only 10 milligrams of sodium per serving, it also features no fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals.
Sugar, corn syrup and hydrogenated oil make up the three main ingredients in a package of Skittles. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends limiting all three of these ingredients to maintain a healthy diet.
According to the Mars Company website, Skittles are not appropriate for kosher diets. While some people may include them in low-fat diets, their high sugar count makes them mostly empty calories. Vegan and vegetarian consumers will be happy to know that the company switched to a vegan form of gelatin in 2009, making Skittles an appropriate special treat for vegetarians.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health warns that obesity rates have risen steadily over the past few decades, matching the rise of per-capita soda and candy consumption rates. While the agency recommends that people consume no more than 5 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day in an effort to prevent obesity, a single bag of Skittles contains 10 teaspoons.
For most people, Skittles are best enjoyed as an occasional special treat, but this sugary food may be helpful for people with low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. According to a 2008 University of Calgary study, Skittles work as well as glucose tablets at helping children with Type I diabetes overcome bouts of hypoglycemia. In the study, researchers gave children suffering from an incident of low blood sugar either a glucose tablet or Skittles candy, which contain sucrose. The researchers concluded that children responded equally well to these two products and had similar increases in blood sugar. If you have hypoglycemia or diabetes, talk to your doctor about the best way to treat your symptoms.
- Mars: Skittles--What's Inside?
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health: Commonwealth Health and Prevention Fund
- Alberta Children's Hospital Diabetes Clinic: The Effectiveness of Glucose, Sucrose, and Fructose in Treating Hypoglycemia in Children With Type 1 Diabetes.
- U.S. National Institutes of Health: Skittles(TM) Effective for Treating Hypoglycemia in Children With Type 1 Diabetes