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Nutrition advice: What’s in that Halloween candy? You may be surprised

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, October 29, 2012 12:01 am
It's Halloween, and that means one thing — candy.Most of us are worried about the calories, but maybe you should really be thinking about what you're consuming ingredients-wise.( www.smarties.com)

Calories: 25 per roll

Burn it: 8.5 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Dextrose, citric acid, calcium stearate, natural and artificial flavors, colors (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2 Lake).

What you need to know:

Red 40 Lake: Was given a “caution” by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). They say the dye is among the most tested, and that tests are still inconclusive. However, it can cause allergy-like reactions.

Yellow 5 Lake: According to CSPI's Chemical Cuisine ( www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm), this can “cause allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons, and triggers hyperactivity in some children. It may be contaminated with such cancer-causing substances as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl.”

Yellow 6 Lake: According to CSPI's Chemical Cuisine, “Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye … causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney.”

Blue 2 Lake: According to CSPI's Chemical Cuisine, animal studies found some (not conclusive) evidence that it causes brain cancer in male rats. FDA says no harm though.

Note on food dyes: Some research suggests food dyes (or Lakes, which are non-water-soluble dyes) are linked to behavioral issues in children. In fact, the FDA is considering whether to ban certain food dyes.

Calcium stearate: Used to make lubricants and cosmetics. It's not soluble in water and has been compared to the foam that is made when soap mixes with water. According to CSPI, it's not harmful.( www.snickers.com)

Calories: 42.5 per piece

Burn it: 14.5 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, skim milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, milkfat, skim milk, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose, salt, egg whites, chocolate, artificial flavor. May contain almonds.

What you need to know:

Skim milk: It's the lowest in fat and has calcium, good for the bones.

Sugar: Too much sugar is not a good thing.

Corn syrup: Liquid sugar. Corn syrup has no nutritional value.

Partially hydrogenated soybean oil: Creates trans-fat, which increases heart disease.

Peanuts: A great source of protein. One of the nice ingredients in Snickers, as long as your child isn't allergic to peanuts.( www.hersheys.com/kitkat/products/kit-kat-snack-size.aspx)

Calories: 42 per piece

Burn it: 14.5 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Sugar; wheat flour; nonfat milk; cocoa butter; chocolate; palm kernel oil; lactose (milk); milk fat; contains 2 percent or less of: soy lecithin; PGPR, emulsifier; yeast; vanillin, artificial flavor; salt; sodium bicarbonate.

What you need to know:

Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR): Sounds bad, but according to CSPI, “It stabilizes low-fat, high-water margarines and helps the 'flow properties' in candy production,” and is safe.

Palm kernel oil: Extracted from the palm seed (not to be confused with palm oil, which is from the fruit and is 80 percent saturated fat), it has some benefits, such as vitamin E and oleic acid.( www.hersheys.com/kisses/products.aspx#/KISSES-Milk-Chocolate)

Calories: 25 per Kiss

Burn it: 8.5 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar; milk; chocolate; cocoa butter; lactose; milk fat; soy lecithin; vanillin, artificial flavor).

What you need to know:

Yes, it's candy, but still, compared with the others, it's better than I thought.(http://starburst.com)

Calories: 20 per piece

Burn it: 7 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated palm kernel oil and/or palm oil, fruit juice from concentrate (apple, strawberry, lemon, orange, cherry), less than 2 percent citric acid, dextrin, gelatin, food starch-modified, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), coloring (Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1).

What you need to know:

Hydrogenated palm kernel oil and/or palm oil: When you add the words “hydrogenated,” it typically means trans fat, and is not healthy. See above.

Gelatin: This is the same thing used to make Jell-O. It's a protein acquired from animal hides and bones.

Blue 1 Lake: According to CSPI's Chemical Cuisine, “One (unpublished) animal test suggested a small cancer risk, and a test-tube study indicated the dye might affect neurons. It also causes occasional allergic reactions.”( www.hersheys.com/twizzlers/products/twizzlers-twists/strawberry.aspx)

Calories: 30 per stick

Burn it: 10 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Corn syrup; enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid); sugar; cornstarch; contains 2 percent or less of: palm oil; salt; artificial flavor; mono and diglycerides; citric acid; potassium sorbate (preservative); artificial color (Red 40); mineral oil; soy lecithin; glycerin.

What you need to know:

Glycerin: According to CSPI, this maintains water content in a food. It's used as a source of energy and is considered safe.

Red 40 Lake: See first item above.( www.dumdumpops.com)

Calories: 20 per lollipop

Burn it: 7 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, citric acid, malic acid, salt, artificial flavor, color added (includes Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1).

What you need to know:

Sugar and corn syrup: See above; not good, obviously.

Salt: Used as a preservative and for flavor. There is tremendous debate about whether salt can be detrimental to your health.

Malic acid: Safe, brings out tartness in foods and is abundant in in apples.

Citric acid: Also safe, and used to create a tart flavor.

Added color: See above( www.hersheys.com/reeses/products/reeses-peanut-butter-cups/miniatures.aspx)

Calories: 44 per piece

Burn it: 15 minutes trick-or-treating

Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar; cocoa butter; chocolate; nonfat milk; milk fat; lactose; soy lecithin; PGPR, emulsifier); peanuts; sugar; dextrose; salt; TBHQ (preservative)

What you need to know:

Peanuts: Got to love them, unless you're allergic.

Dextrose: A type of sugar.

TBHQ (Tert-Butylhydroquinone): Prevents foods from going rancid.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.

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