Halloween season is fast approaching, and we all know what that means: candy time! It can be a scary time for health-conscious people, watching their kids gravitate towards large bowls of brightly colored, artificially flavored sweets.
However, many of us love candies and the accompanying sugar rush. For those of us who have a sweet tooth, choosing between eating and not eating candies can be as though having to choose between health and fun. We might have a solution. While unchecked amounts of anything can become harmful to our bodies, the type of candies children and adults eat is detrimental to our health.
Manufacturers add various chemicals in candies for artificial coloring, sweetening, and preservation purposes. Some substances like titanium oxide are hazardous to human health. However, there are alternatives as well.
In this article, we will answer the burning question: Are the chemicals in candies really bad for you? In short, some of them are, while some are neither toxic nor inflammatory but just as sweet! While we’re at it, let’s also learn about the side effects of chemical additives on human health.
Unhealthy Chemicals in Candies
There’s a way you can satisfy your sweet cravings and enjoy the Halloween season without subjecting your body to the harmful side effects of chemical additives in candies. With a bit of consideration, you can learn about the different ingredients in candies that are unhealthy for us. It’s part of the alluring charm of sweets to look attractive in their shiny wrappers, propped up on display in grocery store checkout lanes, but most of these candy brands use harmful ingredients which people a lot of us are unaware of, such as:
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Corn Syrup
- Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Sweeteners (sucralose or aspartame)
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- Gluten – products containing gluten may include labels for caramel coloring or flavoring, maltodextrin, modified food starch, citric acid, and “natural flavorings.”
- Preservatives – These might include: sulfites, polysorbate 60/65/80, nitrites, sodium benzoate, TBHQ, and BHT/BHA.
- Dairy – skimmed milk, lactose, and milkfat.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
These categories of ingredients often contain dangerous additives, which are listed as a variety of chemicals, so it is understandable if you’re not aware of all of them. However, it’s important to remember that these umbrella terms encompass a variety of chemicals that act as hidden sources of sugar, gluten, corn, soy, and dairy in candies.
As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t recognize certain ingredients in candy, avoid eating it because the additive might be harmful to your health. Additionally, avoiding the above mentioned ingredients is an excellent step in the right direction.
Serious Side Effects of Chemical Additives
Harmful chemicals in candies can pose several health concerns. For instance, partially hydrogenated oils are rich in trans fats. There’s no healthy limit for these fats as they are linked to a higher incidence of heart disease, blocked arteries, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.
Similarly, consuming high-fructose corn syrup is extremely dangerous since it can lead to heart disease, insulin resistance, and increased belly fat. These conditions cause numerous health complications and are tricky to deal with, especially diabetes-associated health conditions.
Even artificial dyes, colors, and flavor enhancers have negatively affected human health. Many of these have been linked to hyperactivity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, and attention deficit disorder or ADD. While these dyes can make candies look attractive, it’s best to avoid all candy brands using them in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
Titanium oxide is arguably the most controversial additive since it’s been the subject of many research studies in the past 50 years. It is used in candies to give them a smooth and shiny texture. Titanium oxide works as a white colorant, brightening candies and making them look more appealing and vibrant.
According to a peer-reviewed study, the additive was found to be widespread in food in a nanoparticle form. Children are also more likely to receive the highest titanium oxide exposure since they typically consume more candies and processed foods than adults.
Furthermore, a 2021 assessment by the European Food Safety Authority concluded that titanium oxide nanoparticles could accumulate in the body, so genotoxicity can not be ruled out as a possibility. The metal oxide holds no nutritional value and can cause DNA strand breaks and chromosomal damage. However, current studies have not yet established a direct link between its consumption and genetic mutations, although it has severe immunotoxicity, inflammation, and neurotoxicity-related adverse effects.
Since it causes endocrine irregularities, titanium oxide is believed to be an endocrine disruptor. As a result of numerous research studies, the EFSA has declared the compound to be unsafe for consumption, although the FDA is yet to take any action.
We know it can be challenging to cut sweets from your lifestyle. Therefore, we offer a solution. In replacement of the abovementioned harmful ingredients, you can focus on a different set of ingredients. Many brands manufacture sweets and candies made from organic and allergy-free ingredients, which do not pose any health concerns. You can try replacing unhealthy sweets with those that include:
- Maple Syrup
- 75% Chocolate or More (the darker, the better)
- Natural Fruit Juice
- 100% Organic and USDA Certified Ingredients
- Natural Colors from Fruits and Vegetables
The above mentioned options help ensure you get a lower dose of sugars while minimizing exposure to harmful ingredients with adverse health effects. Although natural sweeteners are healthy alternatives, we know it can be not easy to source them every time. If you’re pressed for time or can’t locate any healthy options, you can try sticking to brands that don’t use artificial sweeteners and dyes and produce gluten- and dairy-free candies to avoid allergic reactions.
In conclusion, most of the chemicals in candies are bad for your health and pose severe health concerns. These include gluten, trans fats, titanium oxide, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, flavor enhancers, and preservatives. It would help if you focused on replacing these with natural or organic alternatives.
Finally, read the labels on all food products to know the ingredients you’re putting into your body. Avoid purchasing the product if you encounter an additive you don’t recognize. We hope you found this article informative and urge you to remember the categories of harmful chemicals that are dangerous to your health!