A Guide to Finding Easter Candy That Isn't Totally Terrible for You
That aisle of Easter candy at your local drugstore can be an especially tricky territory to navigate. Although we wait the entire year for our fair share of Peeps and Mini Eggs, it's easy to go overboard, so consider alternating the sugar rush with a few not-so-terrible options for balance. "It's not fun to abstain from Easter candy all the time, but you can be savvy and make a good decision rather than going in blindly thinking you don't have a choice," says nutritionist Dr. Simone Laubscher. "Around Easter, the main kind of candy people will be eating will be chocolate, which has been shown to be really beneficial for us. It's high in antioxidants, is good at hoovering up free radicals, and it's very good for releasing endorphins—raw cacao actually releases similar hormones to the feeling you get when you fall in love." That explains a lot, actually. According to Dr. Laubscher, opt for dark chocolate when you can. Options that are high in cacao, low in sugar, and leave out ingredients like palm oil, trans fats, butter, or margarine are ideal.
Taking a closer look at the label can also help decode if the chocolate contains what you need. Generally speaking, the less ingredients, the better. "The first ingredient listed must be the highest ingredient, so if the first ingredient is cacao or a chocolate derivative and sugar is low on the list, then it's likely to be good, as opposed to a chocolate that lists sugar as the first ingredient," says Dr. Laubscher. "Pay close attention to the fake sugars listed as well, as well as the hydrogenated oils and margarine, which cause damage at the celllar level and bump up the cholesterol." Although you won't get a sugar spike with fake sugars and ingredients like aspartame, they can cause problems in the long run, and aspartame has actually been shown to cause cancer in rats. Additionally, be aware of coded language like high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, or organic glucose syrup—though they may seem like a better option, at their core, it's really all just sugar. Dr. Laubscher notes Green and Black's and Lindt as two of her favorite good-for-you brands, but don't stress too much if you can't find them in the store. Moderation is key, as the Spice Girls' hit single "Too Much" solidifies. "We should be a little savvy, but not to the point that we're paranoid, because that causes other problems in and of itself," she adds. "If you feel like a little chocolate over the holiday, it's fine. Let yourself off the hook a little and make good choices if you can."