Peppermint candy is a sweet, refreshing treat often sold as red-and-white striped drops or in the form of candy canes. First emerging as a treatment for digestive troubles in the early 1800s, peppermint candies gained popularity in the early 20th century when general stores sold them as "penny candy" alongside liquorish and marshmallows. Although eating peppermint candy in moderation is unlikely to be harmful, overeating this food may have negative consequences.
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Peppermint candies are a nutritionally poor food, containing high levels of sugar without any vitamins or minerals. Although the exact ingredients and nutritional value varies between brands, a three-piece serving of peppermint candy contains about 60 calories, all of which come from sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Peppermint candy also contains natural flavors and colorings such as Red 40, and some varieties may contain peppermint oil. This candy contains no fiber, fat, sodium or protein.
Because peppermint candies contain ample sugar with zero nutrition, these treats can add excess calories to your menu and potentially lead to weight gain. For instance, eating three servings of peppermint candy a day -- or nine pieces -- without reducing your intake of other foods would give you a surplus of 180 calories, leading to about a pound of weight gain every three weeks. Over time, this weight gain could become substantial. In addition, because peppermint candy contains no fiber, it may encourage overeating by raising your blood sugar and providing little satiation.
Although difficult to do with candy, overdosing on peppermint oil -- a common ingredient in peppermint candies -- is possible and may lead to unpleasant symptoms. Consuming too much peppermint oil can cause a slower heartbeat, shallow or rapid breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody urine, depression, dizziness, convulsions, twitching or unconsciousness. Because peppermint candy is primarily sugar and contains only small amounts of peppermint oil, an overdose is unlikely unless you consume this candy in extremely large quantities.
Because peppermint candies are high in sugar and dissolve slowly in your mouth, they may increase your risk of cavities. Candy, particularly hard candy, puts your teeth in direct contact with bacteria-feeding sugars, creating the perfect environment for cavities and decay. In addition, chewing on hard peppermint candies can cause your teeth to chip or break.