Shopping for this year's Easter basket? Moderation is key during this holiday filled with chocolate bunnies and jellybeans, says Alina Neuberger, M.D., medical director of eMedical Offices in New Jersey. “A common dilemma parents have around Easter is which type of candy to offer their little ones,” she says. “We all know candy is not good for you if eaten regularly, but a holiday-time exception should not be a problem provided that the candy is eaten in moderation." Read on to learn how to pick the best candy options and avoid the worst ones when it comes to Easter candy.
BEST: Hollow Chocolate BunniesIndulge in a lighter treat with a hollow bunny this season. “Hollowed bunnies pack a healthier punch than solid or cream-filled chocolates,” says Kristen Smith, Georgia-based registered dietitian and founder of 360 Family Nutrition. "This portion-controlled treat will set you back with fewer calories than solid bunnies and will provide less fat and sugar," says Smith. Also opting for higher quality, dark chocolate bunnies equates to greater cocoa content which means more flavonoids, an antioxidant linked to many health benefits.
WORST: Solid Milk Chocolate BunniesIt may be challenging to resist the temptation of a solid milk chocolate bunny on Easter, but according to registered dietitian, Kristen Smith, the calorie range for these cute treats can exceed your energy needs for two or more meals. For example, a 7-ounce solid milk chocolate bunny contains a whopping 1,100 calories.
BEST: Jelly Beans With Natural FlavoringsChoose candy with natural ingredients, free from artificial flavorings and colors during the Easter season. “Many manufacturers use fruits and vegetables to color and flavor their candy, as well as organic sweeteners and fruit juice. When picking out your favorite jelly bean flavors, check the labels and opt for brands that contain added vitamin C and have natural flavoring,” suggests Andrea Donsky, registered holistic nutritionist and co-founder of NaturallySavvy.com. Organic Surf Sweets Jelly Beans are a good option. You'll still get all of the sugar and calories but will cut out on the artificial additives.
WORST: Hard CandyIf you’re a sucker for hard candy and candy ring pops, try to break the habit this Easter. According to Dr. Linda Vidone, a pediatric dentist in Massachusetts and dental director at DentaQuest, hard candy is tough on teeth because it tends to be sucked on at a leisurely pace for an extended period. “This ultimately coats teeth with sugar, and when bacteria comes into contact with sugar in the mouth, it creates acid, which leads to tooth decay,” she says. Additionally, biting down on hard candy could chip or break teeth.
BEST: Dark ChocolateThe good news for chocolate lovers is that a variation of this holiday favorite is on the "eat" list. Deborah Enos, a Washington-based certified nutritionist and health coach, recommends dark chocolate bars with nuts of any kind. Dark chocolate contains a number of minerals, including magnesium and potassium. It’s also loaded with healthy flavanol antioxidants, which have been shown to support a healthy heart and brain. "The nuts are an added protein bonus, because the additional protein will help to keep you feeling full longer and when you stay full longer, there is less chance of going back for more chocolate," reports Enos.
WORST: Peanut Butter EggsIt can be difficult to pass up the delicious mix of chocolate and peanut butter rolled into a perfectly shaped egg during the Easter season, but if you're looking to keep your calorie intake in check, resist this sweet treat. You may think that the peanut butter filling contributes some nourishment, but the nut content is negligible. Just one peanut butter egg contains 10 grams of fat and 15 grams of sugar. With only a trace amount of calcium and no vitamin content at all, this one is a surefire candidate for the "don't eat" list. Opt instead for chocolate covered peanuts or almonds made from real nuts and dark chocolate.
WORST: Crème-Filled Chocolate EggsCrème-filled chocolate eggs will put a serious dent in your daily calorie intake. Just one small crème egg packs 4 grams of saturated fat and 20 grams of sugar, so it’s easy to overindulge. This Easter favorite offers practically nothing in the way of nutrition and contains artificial coloring.
What Do YOU Think?Which Easter candies are your favorites? Do you agree with the items on this list? Share your suggestions by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!