Junk Food Alternatives:  Gummy Candies

A reader asked me to compare the nutrition of junk food options out there and advise readers on best to eat. So, today we’ll look at gummy candies...

Gummy candies are usually mostly sugar. They're low in protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Healthier choices might be foods that contain more nutrients (like protein, vitamins, and minerals) or healthier choices might be lower in added sugar or other artificial ingredients. I've included some of each.

Gum Drops
Take gum drops, for example. They're corn syrup, sugar, corn starch and/or modified food starch, coloring, and flavoring. 4 large gumdrops are 150 calories, all of which come from the 37 grams of carbs. There's no protein, fat, vitamins, or minerals.

A "better" option might be RAP Protein Gummies. These, in theory, are a great alternative to typical gummy candies, because they provide 10-20 g protein and 100% daily value of vitamin C, both of which are not typically found in gummy candies.

However, I felt the taste was not as good as other gummy candies on the market. They weren't disgusting; they just weren’t as sweet as I would have liked.  I ate the entire bag, probably at least in part because I didn't have sugary candy sitting around to eat instead. If you keep healthier options in your house and less healthy options out, you will eat the healthier ones!

Sour Patch Kids
Sour Patch Kids are another candy made from corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch, acid, coloring, and flavoring. 16 of them provide the same 150 calories and 37 grams of carbs as the gum drops above. Again, there's no fat, protein, vitamins or minerals.

But, you can get the same taste without the sugar and calories by chewing a stick of Stride Sour Patch Kids Gum. To me, it really tastes like Sour Patch Kids and was a great way to satisfy a sweet craving without a lot of added sugar.

Nutrition info for licorice varies somewhat from brand to brand. Red Vines reports 140 calories, 0 grams fat, 33 grams carbs, and 1 gram protein for 4 original red twists. Strawberry Twizzlers are a little more nutritionally dense at 160 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 36 grams carbs, and 1 gram of protein for the same 4 twists. Both are made from sugar, red dye, and artificial flavoring.

But, there are licorices made from real fruits, no added sugar, no dye, and no artificial flavors...

I found the Raspberry Lemonade Twisted Fruit rope (pictured above) at Aldi. They do, in fact, taste like raspberry lemonade. I cannot find them online, but these Raspberry Lemonade Twisted Fruit Ropes look like a similar product.  Both products are made from real fruit, with no added sugar, added coloring, or added flavors. If you like the peel-apart version of Twizzlers, try the Strawberry Watermelon Fruit Strip from SunRype. These are made from 100% real fruit.

Whether you opt for Raspberry Lemonade Twists or SunRype Strawberry Watermelon Fruit Strips, neither product is low in calories or natural sugar content. But, I feel they are better-for-you options because they're made with real fruit instead of added colors and flavors..

FAQ: Are natural or organic candies, like Newman's Own Licorice, any healthier?
Depends. Natural or organic candies aren't necessarily any healthier. While searching for products for this post, I found many natural and organic candies that were very similar to the mainstream ones.

Natural and organic licorice can still be made from added sugar, added color, and added flavors. Organic candies are made from organic sugar, which is only "healthier" because it wasn't grown with certain chemicals. The colors and flavors are derived from natural and/or organic sources.

Being natural or organic doesn't mean that the candy has to be made from real fruit. It also doesn't mean it's low in sugar, low calorie, high in protein, or high in vitamins and minerals.

Everything in moderation.
Even if you opt for these "healthier" candies, candy should be only a part of your diet. You should also eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy or vegan dairy alternatives, and proteins (nuts, beans, seeds, eggs, meat, and seafood).

Candies made from real fruit can count towards a serving of fruit for the day, but it shouldn't be your only source of fruit. Protein gummies shouldn't be your only protein source, either.

If you have tried any of these products, what did you like or dislike? What other “healthy” gummy candies have you tried?

*I was not paid by any of the companies mentioned in this post nor did I receive free samples or other perks. I purchased the products from my local grocery stores.


The information provided in this blog is not intended to replace individualized medical advice provided by your own doctor, dietitian, or other healthcare professional.
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