Healthy Candy Alternatives
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food spikes your insulin levels. Foods that have a GI index under 55 are considered low glycemic, foods between 56 and 69 are medium glycemic, and foods with a GI index over 70 are high glycemic.9
Most candy has a GI Index close to 100, which means it spikes your blood sugar almost as much as pure sugar. If you want to replace Halloween candy and the sugary treats you eat around the holidays, it’s a good idea to substitute these foods with snacks that fall in the low GI category.
Dried fruit makes a great alternative to candy and can satisfy your sweet tooth when you’re craving something sugary. You can even make it in your oven yourself if you’re looking for a healthy DIY baking option.
However, you should still be careful with dried fruit. Even though dried fruit can be high in nutrients and fiber, some types of dried fruit are still very calorie-dense and high in sugar.
Sticking to fruits that contain a high amount of fiber and are relatively low in sugar cause the smallest insulin spikes. It’s also a good idea to avoid any dried fruit that has a candied coating like crystalized ginger or pineapple.
Dried apricots, prunes, and apples are among the lowest GI fruit while pineapples, mango, papaya, and kiwis are among the highest.
Almost everybody loves chocolate, but it often gets a reputation as a junk food. However, dark chocolate above 70% cocoa solids contains far less sugar than milk chocolate. One 100g dark chocolate bar contains more than 50% your DV of iron, copper, and manganese and more than 20% of your magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and potassium DV.8
Dark chocolate also contains more antioxidants than blueberries per ounce and several healthy groups of chemicals called flavonoids and methylxanthines. These chemicals can stimulate blood flow and help your veins and arteries relax.
When you buy chocolate, look for options that have not been sweetened with any highly refined sugars. Maple syrup and honey are better options if you are looking to avoid the toxic effects of refined sugar. Remember, chocolate is still a source of carbohydrates so consume in moderation.
Berries are among the lowest glycemic fruit and also contain some of the highest nutrient densities. Not only are they healthy, but most berries (including raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries) fall into the low glycemic category of food.
A cup of blueberries contains about 80 calories while a cup of Skittles or equivalent candy contains roughly 830 calories. That same cup of blueberries also contains 24% of your vitamin C, 36% of your vitamin K, 25% of your manganese, and 3.6g of fiber while the cup of candy contains only traces of these essential nutrients.
In fall of 2017, almost 70,000 acres of pumpkins were harvested.9 Many of these pumpkins ended up in the trash by November 1st. However, pumpkin is an incredibly nutritious food that is used for making low-sugar sweet alternatives. 100g of pumpkin contains more than 170% your daily vitamin A. Most recipes can easily be altered to replace the refined sugar with pure maple syrup or raw honey.
Here are a few pumpkin baking ideas to help you lower your sugar intake this
- Pumpkin bread
- Pumpkin waffles
- Pumpkin muffins
- Pumpkin pancakes
- Pumpkin chai Latte