The Truth About Candy
Few products bring so much happiness and yet are surrounded by as much misconception as candy.
While candy is often a special treat, like anything used in moderation, it can be enjoyed on a daily basis provided it’s part of a sensible, well-balanced, and nutritious diet.
Below is a list of the most common candy myths each followed by the myth-buster, which we hope will be helpful to you. Thanks to the National Confectioners Association for much of the information that appears.
MYTH: MOST CANDIES ARE HIGHLY CALORIC
TRUTH: One butterscotch disc has a mere 20 calories. Eight gum drops or jelly beans have 115 calories. Plus, most of these have no fat or cholesterol, which makes them a healthier treat than many people think.
MYTH: CANDY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TOOTH DECAY
TRUTH: This is the biggie, the one your mother always told you. The truth is, any food containing carbohydrates, like starches and sugars, can contribute to tooth decay. Good dental hygiene (brush after every meal or snack) is the best way to prevent cavities.
MYTH: CANDY CAUSES HYPERACTIVITY IN KIDS
TRUTH: Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Recent studies conducted at Vanderbilt University and the University of Iowa College of Medicine found no evidence that sugar adversely affects children's behavior. And of course, as with anything (except vegetables!), candy and sugar should be enjoyed in moderation.
MYTH: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HEALTHY CANDY
TRUTH: Many treats, like lollipops, candy canes, and gummies, have no cholesterol or fat, making them a healthier treat than many people may realize. Gum drops, most licorice products, and many hard candy varieties are fat-free and have little to no cholesterol, plus, they are low-calorie. For example, a cup of candy corn contains fewer calories than the same amount of raisins.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE CONSUMPTION LEADS TO ACNE
TRUTH: Clinical trials performed at the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Pennsylvania indicate that moderate consumption of chocolate does not contribute to acne.
MYTH: CANDY CONTRIBUTES MUCH OF THE FAT & SUGAR IN THE STANDARD AMERICAN DIET
TRUTH: Less than ten percent of the sugar and two percent of the fat in the American diet is provided by candy. In fact, most of the fat in our diets comes from animal products and the sugar from sugary sodas and beverages, bakery items, and frozen desserts.
MYTH: EATING TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE MAKES PEOPLE LETHARGIC
TRUTH: While chocolate has been shown not to cause hyperactivity in children, it has historically been championed as an energy source. To put this into perspective, a single chocolate chip provides sufficient food energy for an adult to walk 150 feet, and 35 chocolate chips are enough to go a mile. Some say that Napoleon carried chocolate with him on military campaigns, as a luxury item and an easy source of energy.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE IS NOT ONE OF THE FOUR FOOD GROUPS
TRUTH: Chocolate comes from cacao beans, which are classified as a vegetable. The darker the chocolate, the higher the cocoa content and the more antioxidants and flavonoids it has, both of which have several health benefits.
MYTH: FOODS HIGH IN SATURATED FATS CONTRIBUTE TO HIGHER CHOLESTROL LEVELS
TRUTH: Not all types of saturated fats raise cholesterol. Stearic acid, the main saturated fatty acid contained in chocolate, has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels. Additionally, the fat in chocolate, which is cocoa butter, does not raise cholesterol levels even though it is saturated because it is plant-derived and healthier than saturated fats found in animal products.
MYTH: PEOPLE CAN BECOME ADDICTED TO CHOCOLATE
TRUTH: Chocolate is no more addictive than any other favorite food. Cravings for sweet-tasting food can be strong, we all know, but they can be satisfied by any naturally sweet food, like fruit, or any product made with sugar.
MYTH: MANY PEOPLE ARE ALLERGIC TO CHOCOLATE.
TRUTH: A recent study debunked this myth, showing that a mere one out of 500 individuals who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive for the allergy.
MYTH: CHOCOLATE CAN BE DEADLY
TRUTH: This one is true, but only if you are a canine. Blame theobromine, which stimulates the cardiac muscle and the central nervous system and causes toxicity in dogs, and even then, only in large quantities. In humans, chocolate poses no threat. In fact, dark chocolate actually has several proven health benefits.
MYTH: AN OUNCE OF MILK CHOCOLATE CONTAINS AS MUCH CAFFEINE AS ONE SERVING OF COFFEE
TRUTH: A one-ounce piece of milk chocolate contains approximately the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee, which is about 4 mg. By comparison, a regular cup of coffee has anywhere between between 80 and 140 mg.