There’s a reason multiple holidays are organized around candy. From Valentine’s Day to Halloween, candy is a delicious indulgence that’s great to give and even better to snack on. But it’s no secret that the sweet stuff isn’t exactly good for you. Of course, no one is going to complain if you’re indulging a few times a year around the holidays. But if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake while also sating your sweet tooth throughout the rest of the year, you might be wondering if there are any healthy candies that you can eat. Fortunately, there are some candies you can enjoy without having to resort to raisins (which are great, but let’s face it, not the same).
Chocoholics will be heartened by the fact that chocolate is frequently cited as being among the healthiest candy options. From supplying antioxidants to reducing heart disease risk, chocolate can have substantial health benefits. But of course, not all chocolate is the same — dark chocolate is the best source of antioxidants, while milk chocolates can often be overly sugary. If you prefer fruit-flavored candies, there are plenty of options that are naturally-flavored and low in sugar. It’s not just specialty brands, either. There are some classic Halloween candies that can have surprising benefits. While you’re browsing for the best healthy candy, you might be wondering what the least healthy candies are, and the answer might surprise you. Two of the worst offenders are candy corn and white chocolate — candy corn is extremely sugary, while white chocolate has a lot of fat without the antioxidant benefits of regular chocolate.
Naturally, even “healthy” candy isn’t a replacement for an actually balanced diet. That’s why the key is still moderation. But if you’re feeling like enjoying a sweet treat during that mid-day slump, these are the best healthy candy brands to reach for.
1. Justin’s Nut Butter Peanut Butter Cups
Candies with peanut butter can be a healthier option because peanut butter has a variety of potential health benefits. Plus, since peanut butter is a good source of protein, you’ll be satisfied more quickly, meaning you won’t be tempted to keep snacking. Justin’s is healthy for you and healthy for the planet. In addition to being non-GMO and certified organic, these dark chocolate cups use Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa and responsibly sourced palm oil.
2. UNREAL Variety Pack 6 Bags
BEST VARIETY PACK
Why a company that uses natural and non-GMO ingredients calls itself Unreal is beyond us, but the brand offers delicious, healthier alternatives to some of the most popular candies. This variety pack includes six different candies, which include Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Crispy Quinoa Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Butter Cups, Peanut Gems, Crispy Quinoa Gems and Coconut Bars, which can satisfy lovers of favorites like Mounds, M&Ms, and Reese’s Cups. They’re made with less sugar and are free of added sweeteners.
3. SmartSweets Fruity Gummy Bears
BEST FRUIT SNACK
The best healthy candy is sweet without packing too much sugar into your snack. If you’re looking for a fruit candy that won’t rot your teeth and bust your diet, then SmartSweets is a good place to start. These gummy bears offer a fruity and sweet flavor, minus all the extra sugar. The entire bag only has 4G of sugar. These gummy bears also have no sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, or artificial flavors.
4. YumEarth Organic Lollipops
Frankly, it’s a shame doctors don’t give adults lollipops after checkups. These lollipops from YumEarth are the grown-up take on the classic, and they’re vegan, kosher and made with organic and non-GMO ingredients. The variety pack includes unique flavors like mango, watermelon and pomegranate.
5. Snickers Fun-Size
BEST FOR CHEAT DAYS
Those TV spots where a notoriously cranky celebrity turns into a regular person after having a Snickers bar are a clever bit of advertising, but there’s actually some truth to the Hangry campaign. Packed with nougat and peanuts, Snickers have more protein than many other common candies, and while it’s pretty sugary, it has less trans fat than some of the common drugstore favorites. That means that you can sate your sweet tooth with just one bar or a couple of the fun-size bars and get a bit of protein while you’re at it.
Okay, so it’s not exactly a healthy candy, but if you have a chocolate craving while you’re on your post-New Years diet, a small Snickers bar isn’t such a bad snack.
6. BEAR Real Fruit Snack Rolls
REAL FRUIT FLAVOR
Fruit by the Foot is a delicious candy, but it’s hardly the healthiest option. That’s why it’s great that this option exists. This snack roll from Bear is made using real fruit without any added sugar, and the snacks are non-GMO, gluten-free, kosher and vegan. This option is strawberry, but you can also choose from flavors like mango, raspberry and apple are available.
7. M&M’S Peanut Butter Chocolate Candy Party Size
BEST TRAIL MIX ADDITION
These M&Ms are made with real peanut butter, so you can enjoy the classic flavor of M&Ms with the added benefit of protein-rich peanuts. Of course, M&Ms go great in trail mix, so you can throw them in with granola and raisins for a tasty snack that’s perfect for a hike or even just a long commute.
8. Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks
BEST LUNCHBOX SNACK
From easy mac-and-cheese to heat-and-eat soup, Annie’s is a great option for the health-conscious person without much time to cook healthy meals from scratch. The brand also makes great healthy candies, such as these organic fruit snacks. (They’re also vegan and gluten-free.) Each box contains 24 single-serving pouches.