It's Easter once again, and store shelves everywhere are bursting with pastel-colored candies. From chocolate bunnies to marshmallow chicks, these treats come in soft, hard, chewy and multicolor forms. But as tantalizing as they may look, they're typically full of added sugars and artificial colorings. Here are some of the worst to watch out for this April, in order of least to most unhealthy.
10. Dubble Bubble Eggs
Each of these "eggs" is loaded with two teaspoons of sugars (sugar, dextrose and corn syrup, to be exact), which will register as 16 percent of the daily value for added sugars once the new nutrition labels go into effect in 2018. But while this candy is the low-sugar pick on this list, it's earned its spot here because it could seriously impact your dental health. Chewing gum lingers in the mouth, giving its sugar more time to hang out and contribute to tooth decay. Maybe they should be called "double trouble" eggs.
9. Palmer Little Beauty Chocolate Bunny
Compared to other chocolate bunnies on the shelf, this one looks like a petite treat. But don't be deceived: Each one is 150 calories and has 35 percent of the daily limit of saturated fat (seven grams) and 4.5 teaspoons of added sugar. Palmer's little bunny is full of hydrogenated palm oil and artificial flavoring, which make this innocent-looking treat far from wholesome.
8. Cadbury Creme Egg
This beloved, cloyingly sweet treat is so ubiquitous this time of year that it would be wrong not to warn you about them. The major ingredients all contain added sugar: chocolate, sugar, corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup. This much sugar makes it hard to meet nutritional recommendations without overeating calories. Each egg contains 150 calories, four grams of saturated fat (20 percent of the daily value) and five teaspoons of sugar. And don't forget about the artificial color and flavor.
7. Peeps Rainbow Pop
Amusing to behold, this tall take on a lollipop is half a foot of blue, pink, green and yellow Peeps stacked on top of each other. But by enjoying these sweets you'll also be ingesting five teaspoons of sugar and a wide range of artificial colors, which have been linked to cancer. And we can't forget the candy's use of potassium sorbate, a preservative that can damage white blood cells and also lead to cancer. That's some scary stuff wrapped up in pretty packaging.
6. Whoppers Robin Eggs
We can see the appeal of disarmingly nostalgic candies like Whoppers and its old-timey contemporaries. However, turn the package around and you'll see less-than-wholesome ingredients, such as artificial flavors, artificial colors and hydrogenated palm kernel oil. When an oil is listed on the label simply as "hydrogenated," it's unclear whether it is partially or fully hydrogenated. Partial hydrogenation means heart-harming trans fats are inside. Full hydrogenation essentially turns an oil into a saturated fat. The good news: This type of saturated fat doesn't seem to carry significant cardiovascular risk. The bad news: It still packs a blast of calories and sugar. A serving has 180 calories, seven teaspoons of sugar and a quarter of the day's saturated fat limit.
5. Bunnytail Lane Grape Cotton Candy
It's not a shocker that cotton candy is a major sugar bomb. Bunnytail Lane's Grape Cotton Candy packs seven teaspoons of sugar per serving — more than the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends women to eat in an entire day (it's six teaspoons per day for women and nine teaspoons per day for men). Too much added sugar can significantly increase your risk of dying from heart disease, says the AHA. And as for the rest of the ingredients? They consist of artificial colors and flavors that make this not such a sweet treat after all. The candy uses blue and red food colorings that have been linked to tumors and thyroid cancer.
4. Brach’s Classic Jelly Bird Eggs
These jelly beans offer 150 calories and 7.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving and basically taste like chewy sugar, regardless of which color you choose. Seriously, after the first bite, when the whiff of artificial flavoring dissipates, they are all the same. And really, so much of the candy is just sugar A, sugar B, starch this, starch that, some kind of wax, plus artificial flavoring, colors and preservatives. An actual chicken egg is far more nutritious!
3. Skittles Easter Egg
Put an egg on a savory dish and it's that much more delicious. Put any kind of candy in an egg-shaped container and it becomes Easter candy. Either way, the logic is infallible. Case in point: Skittles now come in brightly colored plastic eggs for Easter. But before we rejoice, they also come with 180 calories, eight teaspoons of sugar (more than the daily recommended limit for women) and 10 percent of the daily value for saturated fat in the form of hydrogenated palm oil. And not to mention the rainbow of toxic food coloring.
Related: 5 Easy Ways to Cut Down on Sugar
2. Russell Stover White Pastelle Bunny
Despite having "chocolate" in its name, white chocolate is devoid of any of the flavanols in the cacao bean that contain antioxidant activity and cardiovascular health benefits. A serving of this treat is one-fifth of the bunny. This amounts to 220 calories, more than half the day's saturated fat (11 grams, 56 percent of the daily value) and six teaspoons of added sugar. A diet high in saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
1. Reese’s Pieces in Carrot Bags
If only carrots were as appealing as sugar-enriched peanut butter candies in carrot-shape bags. Clever as this idea is in its simplicity, the serving size is the entire "carrot" bag. That's nearly 400 calories! The treat also contains 76 percent of the daily allowance of saturated fat and more than 10 teaspoons of sugar — about the same as a 12-ounce can of soda. A closer look at the nutrition label shows the "carrot" is a good source of protein and fiber (from its peanuts), but that doesn't make it a smart choice. A 28-nut serving of actual peanuts will provide the same amount of protein and fiber at half the calories. You could really stick it to Reese's and have your peanuts with a side of carrots.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you sometimes indulge in a sweet treat during Easter holidays? Have you tried any of the candies on this list, or do you avoid them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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