The Best (And Worst) Candies For Your Health

No matter how many candy substitutes you eat, nothing can replace a classic candy bar. Even strict dieters deserve a treat every once in a while. But which candy is the best for your health? Which treat is the best of the worst?

Nutritionists have ranked candies by their trans fat, sugar, and nutrient content. Although all experts have different opinions, many agree on which candies are better than others. Here are the best and worst candies for your health.

Snickers Is One Of The Best

Snickers bars sit on a store shelf.
Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Snickers has the lowest amount of saturated fat of any candy bar. According to 2017 research in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and your risk of heart disease.

Snickers also has zero grams of trans fat, giving it only 18% of fat. Although it has less harmful fats than other candy bars, it makes up for the fat with more sugar. Snickers has 28 grams of sugar, so limit yourself to one a day.

Beware Of 3 Musketeers

Two 3 Musketeers bars lay on top of each other.
Julia Ewan/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Julia Ewan/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Of all the candy bars, 3 Musketeers is one of the worst for your health. It has the highest trans fat and sugar content of most candy, at 36 grams per bar. According to the founder of Priceless Nutrition & Wellness, Meredith Price, says that this is equal to nine teaspoons of sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends less than six teaspoons of sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons for men. The average 3 Musketeers contains all of your recommended daily sugar intake.

Candy Corn Isn’t All Sugar

Candy corn spills out of a bag.
Julia Ewan/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Julia Ewan/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Although some people say that candy corn is all sugar, it isn’t–but it’s pretty close. According to an analysis by Hunter College, candy corn’s most prevalent ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, and confectioner’s glaze. This can be translated into sugar, liquid sugar, and a sweetener.

The only benefit to candy corn is its sesame oil, which supplies a small amount of vitamin E. Although it has no fat, you should avoid candy corn if you’re trying to limit sugar.

Raisins Make Raisinets Worse, Not Better

A box of Nestle Raisinets is seen on a store shelf
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It’s true that raisins add some calcium and iron to Raisinets. However, their health benefits don’t outweigh the negatives. One cup of raisins packs on a whopping 100 grams of sugar. Hence, Raisinets contain more sugar than other chocolate candies.

Raisinets also supply more fat than other candies. One serving of Raisinets takes up 12% of men’s daily recommended fat and 72% of their daily recommended sugar. That’s a lot of loss for not much gain.

Hershey’s Chocolate Bar Has Pure Ingredients

Person holds a s'mores sandwiched with Hershey's bars.

Registered Dietitian Natalie Rizzo ranked Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar as the healthiest candy you can eat. She said that Hershey’s contains pure milk chocolate with few additives–a rare find in the world of chocolate bars.

On the flip-side, Hershey’s generally has more saturated fat than other candies, with a whopping eight grams per bar. Its sugar and calorie content is average for candy bars. If you want one candy bar per day, you may benefit from Hershey’s.

Kit Kat Has More Vitamins Than Other Candies

Model Nicole Fujita advertises Kit Kats' 45th anniversary in Japan.
Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In terms of sugar and fat, Kit Kat doesn’t outshine other candy bars. But because most of it is a wafer, Kit Kats have fewer calories than other candies. Nutritionist Jonathon Valdez noted that Kit Kats have more iron, vitamin D, potassium, and calcium compared to other candies.

Kit Kat’s 2017 upgrade, called “More Milk More Cocoa,” aimed to lower the sugar content. The reduction isn’t much–only 0.7 grams less–but it’s still better than a normal Kit Kat.

Smarties Has The Lowest Calories, Sugar, And Fat

Crushed smarties lay in front of Smarties packages.
Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Smarties have the lowest harmful ingredients of any candy, mainly because they contain hardly anything. Smarties have zero fat and sodium, with only six grams of sugar. One serving (15 tablets) supplies only 25 calories.

According to a 2016 scientific review, Smarties’ main ingredient is dextrose, another word for glucose. The rest are dyes and citric acid. If you want fewer sugar and calories, Smarties may help curve your sugar craving. It won’t do much else to your health.

The Rice In Nestlé Crunch Doesn’t Help

Nestle Crunch bars are seen on a store shelf
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Some people choose Nestlé Crunch because they think the rice lowers the calorie and sugar count. In reality, this chocolate bar isn’t much healthier than other candies. Crunch bars still serve 220 calories, seven grams of saturated fat, and 24 grams of sugar.

On the bright side, Crunch bars offer a small amount of protein and calcium. But these benefits are outweighed by their whopping 60 mg of sodium. Treat Nestlé Crunch how you treat other chocolate candies: by eating them sparingly.

Twizzlers Aren’t A Terrible Choice

A blue teapot pours a single Twizzler into a white cup.

Twizzlers Strawberry Twists are a good choice for someone who isn’t craving chocolate but still wants something sweet. Three pieces have no fat and 15 mg of potassium, far more than most candies.

Twizzlers may not contain the fiber and protein that chocolate bars do, but they also have less sugar. If you eat only one Twizzler and savor it, you’ll only consume five grams of sugar. That’s a positive way to get your sweet fix.

Plain M&Ms V.S. Peanut M&Ms

Boy stares at the towers of M&M's in the M&M store in Times Square
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Regular M&Ms aren’t too different from other candies in terms of their sugar and fat. Unlike other chocolate bars, M&Ms offer some nutrients, including vitamin A and calcium. They even provide a small amount of protein and fiber.

By far, though, the better choice is peanut M&Ms. They have far fewer calories and sugar than regular M&Ms. Compare 31 grams of sugar in regular M&Ms to 14.5 grams. Plus, the nuts’ protein will fill you faster, influencing you to eat less.

Tootsie Pops Are Just Okay

A pomegranate Tootsie Pop is unwrapped.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? According to engineering students from Purdue, the average is 364 licks. One of Tootsie Pop’s benefits is that it takes a while to finish, so you won’t overindulge.

With only 11 grams of sugar and 60 calories, Tootsie Pops have less harmful ingredients than chocolate bars. But Tootsie Pops also contain vegetable oils like palm oil, one of the least healthy oils available.

Almond Joy Is One Of The Best Choices

Almond Joy wrappers lay scattered on a wooden table.

Unlike other chocolate candies, Almond Joy includes two sources of healthy fats: coconut and almonds. The coconut gives Almond Joy a small amount of fiber, as well as zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Although Almond Joy provides saturated fats like other candies, its almonds also offer some healthy fats. Almond Joy still has high calories, sugar, and sodium per bar. But its nutrients heavily rival other chocolates, making it one of the healthiest candy choices.

Tootsie Rolls Successfully Curve Cravings

A pile of Tootsie Rolls, with one open, rests against a white background.
Mark Gail-for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Mark Gail-for The Washington Post via Getty Images

According to an article in Prevention, one woman improved her diet by satisfying her cravings with Tootsie Rolls. These tiny candies have low fat (2.7 grams) and low sugar (17 grams), but they’re still sweet enough to enjoy.

Registered Dietitian Samantha Cassetty told NBC News that one Tootsie Roll contains less than five grams of sugar. If you’re struggling with chocolate cravings, eat one roll. It’s small enough to satisfy and also has little caloric impact.

Sour Patch Kids Destroy Your Teeth

Sour Patch Kids sit in bowls on display at the Billboard Winterfest at Park City Live!
Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Billboard
Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Billboard

They’re sour, they’re sweet, and they can ruin your teeth. New York dentist Timothy Chase says that sour candies, like Sour Patch Kids, have a high amount of acidity. The tartaric and citric acids gradually break down tooth enamel.

To make matters worse, brushing your teeth could worsen the damage. If you brush your teeth right after eating Sour Patch Kids, the brush can swipe away the enamel. To save your teeth, eat fewer sour candies.

Twix Isn’t The Best Because Of Its Caramel

Ryleigh Bunn, 7, holds up a Twix bar.
Lewis Geyer/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images
Lewis Geyer/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

In terms of health, Twix is a tricky case. It has lower saturated fat (only five grams) and sugar (22 grams) than most other candies. Its calories are about average for a candy bar, around 280 per bar. However, Twix’s health fall is caramel.

Caramel is responsible for Twix’s saturated fat content. According to Harvard Health, caramel raises the number of triglycerides in your bloodstream, which increases your risk of heart and gum disease.

Airheads Would Be Okay If They Weren’t Sticky

Airheads mascot is made from Airheads on the candy's official Twitter.

Like all sticky candies, Airheads can damage your teeth. Practicing dentist Mark Burhenne says that sticky candies are the worst for your teeth. The longer sugary sweets stay in your mouth, the higher the risk of a cavity.

Airheads have low calories and sugar, with only 60 calories and 19 grams of sugar (fewer than most candies). But like candy corn, Airheads contain little nutritional value. They only things they offer are a small amount of vitamin C and tooth-hurting stickiness.

Although Not Artificial, Butterfingers Are Still Bad

Three Butterfingers bars sit on a table.

In 2015, Nestlé announced that they would remove all artificial colors and flavors from their products. In theory, this would make candies like Butterfingers healthier–but it didn’t. Butterfingers still contain unhealthy vegetable oils such as palm oil and soybean oil.

According to a 2018 study in BMJ Journals, these oils contain omega-6 fatty acids that increase the risk of heart disease. Butterfingers also have a lot of sodium, 29 grams of sugar, and 270 calories. Avoid these candies if you can.

Starbursts Is Healthier Than Other Candies

A pile of multi-colored Starbursts candies.

Starbursts come with the benefit of their small serving sizes. If you limit the amount, you could get away with a low-calorie candy. Eight Starbursts provide 160 calories, far less than other candies on the market. They also have less saturated fat than other candies.

Starbursts have no nutrients to benefit you: no vitamins, calcium, or iron. It’s also all sugar, with eight pieces adding up to 23 grams. But if you’re looking for no sodium and low-fat treats, go for Starbursts.

Skittles Have Lower Fat, But That’s About It

A person holds out Skittles in their hands.
Kirill KukhmarTASS via Getty Images

Skittles have less saturated fat than many other candies. However, they still contain a whopping 34 grams of sugar–about eight teaspoons of sugar per serving. If you’re more worried about fat than sugar, Skittles may be an okay choice.

Skittles also contain harmful vegetable oils and artificial flavors, which makes them less outstanding than other candies out there. They’re not the worst, but they’re not the best, either. If you enjoy Skittles, try to limit your treat to half a serving.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Are Surprisingly Healthy

Reeses Cups are broken and added to oatmeal.
Pinterest/Golden Barrel Baking Products

Reese’s Cups have a greater benefit than other chocolate candies: their peanut butter. The nut butter is mainly responsible for its 110 calories, but it comes with a host of health benefits (at least, compared to other candies).

According to Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Amy Goin, Reese’s Cups offer some protein and fiber through peanut butter. These nutrients will fill you up, which can persuade you to eat less. That alone makes Reese’s healthier than other candies.