There's been a lot of bad news in the world lately, so here's a little bit of good news: healthier Halloween candy exists. And yes, it's actually tasty.
Hopefully, you already know sweets are okay in moderation—in fact, experts say letting yourself occasionally have a favorite treat may help you resist other diet temptations. "There's permission in life to have candy," says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, a nutritionist near San Diego. "It's important to know that a healthy lifestyle and nutritious, balanced diet can incorporate indulgences without guilt."
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Even RDs reach for packaged candy every now and then. The key, they tell us, is to look for products that are low in refined sugar, with bonus points for those that contain good-for-you ingredients like fruit and nuts for added fiber, protein, and healthy fats. We polled nutritionists to find out which candies they recommend to clients (and occasionally snack on themselves). Each pick is available in packages small enough to be distributed on Halloween.
1. Theo Chocolate Salted Almond Butter Cups in Dark Chocolate
A relatively healthy nut butter cup? Yes, such a thing exists. "The ingredients in these are all recognizable and high-quality," says Health's contributing nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. "The dark chocolate and almond butter means you'll be taking in antioxidants and good fat while you get your sweet fix."
$40 for 12
2. KIND Minis Gluten Free Variety Pack
Both Bazilian and New York City–based nutritionist Keri Gans, RD, tell us they recommend these little bars to clients who are craving something sweet. "You get all the yumminess of a chocolate bar without the added sugar," Gans explains. As a bonus, these bite-sized treats contain just 100 calories each and are a good source of fiber and protein.
$12 for 10
3. Seitenbacher Happy Fruits in Passionfruit
Not all chewy candies are total sugar bombs. Exhibit A: these gummies infused with passion fruit (Sass is a fan). They're gluten-free, 100% vegan, and contain no gelatin or refined sugar.
$23 for 12
4. Hershey's Kisses Special Dark Chocolate Kisses
Dark chocolate contains antioxidant-rich flavanols, a component in cocoa that may have heart-healthy benefits, says Gans. Just be mindful of portion sizes. "Stick to only one to three, otherwise your calories will start to add up," she notes.
5. Nothing But the Fruit Real Fruit Bites
Another one of Sass's top picks, these fruit chews don't have any refined sugar, artificial colors, or preservatives, and they come in a variety of flavors, like raspberry chia (pictured) and concord grape.
$21 for 8
6. Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate, 70% Cacao
If you're feeling generous enough to hand out a full-size chocolate bar on Halloween (and save one for yourself), Bazilian recommends this brand. "In general, I look for chocolate that has a high cacao concentration of at least 60%," she says. "But 70% or higher is even better."
$34 for 10
7. UNREAL Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems
These miniature "gems" get their bright colors from natural ingredients like beets, turmeric, hibiscus, and cabbage. Sass is a fan of this flavor in particular, which contains nutrient-rich quinoa. One serving delivers 12% of your recommended daily fiber intake.
$30 for 6