Did you know that the average American eats 60 pounds of sugar in just one year? In fact, most Americans consume on average about 77 grams of sugar daily, which is more than three times the American Heart Association's recommended limit for women. Of course, satisfying your sweet tooth is seriously necessary at times — and we believe in moderation and balance over restriction any day — but watching your added sugar intake is an important part of healthy living.
White table sugar may be delicious, but there is actually no nutritional need for it. While you may get a quick dose of energy from table sugar in the form of a blood sugar surge, you'll subsequently experience that drastic drop in energy or classic “sugar crash,” which can lead to symptoms like hunger, irritability, fatigue, headaches and more. Research shows that consuming too much of the sweet stuff can increase chronic inflammation and even raise the risk of serious health problems like diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease. Since table sugar is void of any nutrition, it contributes added empty calories to the diet.
But there are some lower-sugar options that are a better choice when you are craving something sweet. Registered dietitians in the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, along with a panel of taste testers, evaluated dozens of treats to bring you the best of the best in terms of nutrition and taste. Here are the best healthier candy alternatives of 2022.
Our top picks:
1Best Sour GummiesLow Sugar Candy Variety Pack PROJECT 7 Read More
2Best Low-Sugar GummiesSmartSweets Variety Pack SmartSweets Read More
3Best Fruit GummiesOrganic Mango and Guava Whole Fruit Gummies SOLELY Read More
4Best Chocolate WafersDark Chocolate & Sea Salt Crispy Wafers Little Secrets Read More
5Best Chocolate CandiesVegan Candy Variety Pack UNREAL Read More
You can read more about how we evaluate healthy candy alternatives, as well as everything you need to know about added sugars, at the end of this article.
All sugars are simple carbohydrates that provide the body with a quick and easy source of energy. Some occur naturally, meaning they are part of foods — fructose, for example, is in fruit and root vegetables, and lactose is in dairy products. Because of where they occur, naturally occurring sugars come bundled with lots of good-for-you nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Added sugars, on the other hand, are ones food manufacturers put into products to improve flavor or extend shelf life. While they have the same molecular makeup as naturally occurring sugars, added sugars are primarily found in heavily processed foods and drinks which tend to be nutrient-poor. They also don’t fill you up or offer other nutritional benefits, so it’s easy to eat way too much overall.
In the standard American diet, top sources of added sugar include soda, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruity drinks like ades and punches. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar daily for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men.
Registered dietitians in the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab evaluated dozens of treats to find the best of the best in terms of nutrition and taste. Our pros looked for lower-sugar options that are made with thoughtful ingredients, prioritizing picks that are free from artificial flavors and additives. We even recruited real-life testers to help analyze flavor profiles, textures and more.
Stefani Sassos is a Registered Dietitian with an extensive knowledge of food labeling and nutrition requirements on food products, rigorously evaluating hundreds of claims for products that apply for the Good Housekeeping Seal. Growing up with a family in the restaurant business, Stefani was able to combine her nutrition expertise with culinary skills taught to her by her mother and grandmother. She's passionate about finding great tasting products that provide a healthier alternative but don't sacrifice on quality.