Candy Shop Face-Off: Which is Healthier?

red licorice


Pile of red licorice candy spirals

Photo by: Montserrat Cobos Rodriguez

Montserrat Cobos Rodriguez

Pay attention when you hit those touristy candy shops this summer: Some treats are better than others.

Red Licorice vs. Black Licorice

WINNER: Red licorice. Many people assume that black licorice root can alleviate health issues. This hasn't been proven, but eating large quantities of black licorice may be dangerous to people 40 and older because a compound in it has been linked to heart problems, according to the FDA.

boardwalk taffy


salt water taffy

Photo by: Michael Gray

Michael Gray

Boardwalk Fudge vs. Boardwalk Taffy

WINNER: Boardwalk taffy. A 1-inch square of chocolate fudge has more than double the fat of the equivalent amount of taffy (about seven pieces). Plus, fudge is higher in saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol in the bloodstream and lead to heart problems.

sour gummies


Gummy Candies

Photo by: Juanmonino


Classic Gummies vs. Sour Gummies

WINNER: Classic gummies. The calorie and sugar counts are almost identical, but studies suggest that sour candy erodes tooth enamel more than other types because it's more acidic. And because gummies stick to your teeth longer than other sweets, sour ones pose a greater risk of dental damage.

Rock Candy vs. Cotton Candy

WINNER: It's a draw. Neither of these options is good for you: They're both sugar, corn syrup and food coloring on a stick. Choose either; just don't go overboard on the portion size. Keep it to roughly one ounce of cotton candy or two rock candies.

chocolate covered snacks
Yogurt-Covered Treats vs Chocolate-Covered Treats

WINNER: Chocolate-covered treats. Yogurt sounds more virtuous than chocolate, but the type that coats pretzels, dried fruit and nuts is loaded with fat and sugar. Chocolate coating has fat and sugar as well, but it also contains healthful antioxidants—the darker the chocolate, the better.

The Expert: Takami Kim is a registered dietitian with NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital's Department of Food and Nutrition Management.

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