Halloween Candy Can Have Adverse Health Effects

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Halloween is the scariest holiday of the year, not because of ghosts and goblins but because of all the candy. Americans spend almost $2 billion on Halloween candy each year, which can have adverse health effects. QUESTION: IS CANDY REALLY THAT BAD FOR OUR HEALTH? Candy provides a lot of calories in the form of sugar and fat, but very few nutrients. Too much sugar can promote cavities and can affect insulin levels, which can raise the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and obesity. If you are healthy, a little candy may not be harmful, but it depends on how much candy you eat and how often you eat it. Small amounts of candy eaten once or twice a week have been shown to enhance longevity, but eating large amounts of candy, eating it every day or eating it throughout the day can be harmful since it displaces more nutritious food in the diet. QUESTION: ARE SOME CANDIES CONSIDERED HEALTHY? Chocolate – contains antioxidants that may reduce heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and tannins that reduce cavities Raisins – contains resveratrol which reduces heart disease and cancer, also contains a chemical that reduces oral bacteria Nuts, Seeds and Peanut butter - contain resveratrol and healthy fats and minerals that reduce heart disease and cancer and aid weight loss when eaten in small amounts Xylitol gum/candy – kills oral bacteria and increases mineralization of teeth Keep in mind the average jack-o-lantern bucket fits about 250 pieces of small candy that could easily add up to 9,000 calories, 200 grams of fat and 1,500 grams of sugar. QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES FOR HALLOWEEN CANDY CONSUMPTION? The trick is to make sure kids don’t overindulge in too many treats because they already eat way too much sugar in the form of candy, soft drinks and other refined carbs. Kids need more fruits, vegetables, fiber and protein for optimal health and to balance the candy. Eat healthy meal first Eat candy just once a day Limit portion Brush teeth afterwards Eat apples, carrots or cheese Keep candy out of sight To reduce dental caries it is best to eat candy no more than once a day and brush your teeth right afterwards. If you are unable to brush, chew sugarless gum, eat an apple, a carrot or piece of cheddar or Swiss cheese. Oral experts recognize the role of starch and other fermentable carbohydrates as well as the interaction between sugar and starch in promoting oral bacterial activity, while certain foods interfere with the demineralization process of teeth and prevent cavities. Foods like caramels and jellybeans are cariogenic because they have a high initial retention or stickiness, but they are cleared rapidly if eaten in a short time frame. Other foods like white bread, pretzels, potato chips and cookies can actually cause more cavities, because while they don’t feel sticky, in reality they exhibit a slow oral clearance, which results in cavities.