Food Fight: Peanut Butter Cups vs. Chocolate-Covered Peanuts

Who will be the winner of this Healthy Eats food fight — peanut butter cups or chocolate-covered peanuts?
It’s the holiday of treats, and you know you’ll be seeing a slew of chocolate all over the place. So, when faced with the choice between two of these chocolate favorites, which should you choose?
Peanut Butter Cups

You can find these beloved chocolates in a single or two-pack. When packaged as two, each peanut butter cup tends to be larger, at 0.8 ounces, while the single-serving pack is smaller, at 0.6 ounces.

One 0.8-ounce peanut butter cup has about 116 calories, 7 grams of fat (2.5 grams of it saturated), 2.5 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber and 11 grams of sugars. If you choose the smaller (0.6-ounce) size, it’s about 88 calories, 5 grams of fat (2 grams of it saturated), 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber and 8 grams of sugars. Because these babies are made with peanut butter, there’s a touch more protein than in other chocolate bars, along with some niacin.

However, peanut butter cups are made with milk chocolate and contain additives and preservatives. They also contain lots of sugar — it’s even listed twice under two different names for sugar (dextrose and sugar).

Chocolate-Covered Peanuts

When it comes to chocolate-covered peanuts, there are more choices available, including peanuts covered with milk chocolate or dark chocolate, and with or without a candy shell. Dark chocolate is the healthier choice, because it contains numerous antioxidants, including theobromine, which helps reduce inflammation and may help lower blood pressure.

On the other hand, milk chocolate contains less cocoa solids as compared with dark chocolate and tends to have sugar, cream and milk solids added to it, which diminishes its nutritional value. Not to mention all the sugar, preservatives and additives found in the candy coating.

One serving of chocolate-covered peanuts (1.4 ounces) contains 230 calories, 15 grams of fat (6 grams of it saturated), 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and 11 grams of sugars.

In this candy, the peanuts are in whole form and aren’t processed. This means you get the nutritional benefits of peanuts in every piece, including more fiber. However, it’s tough to stop at just one piece. Oftentimes, you can overconsume portions of this favorite candy and finish an entire bag without noticing.

Healthy Eats Winner: Thanks to portion control, the winner of this food fight is peanut butter cups. It’s much easier to overdo the chocolate-covered peanuts, which could result in eating hundreds of extra calories.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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