These Healthy Swaps Can Replace Your Favorite Candy

With a concentrated blast of pure white sugar and artificial colors and flavors, candy is one of the unhealthiest snacks you can make a habit out of eating. Unfortunately, all that sweetness and flavor tastes so good that it's easy to get hooked on, especially for kids. In fact, a 2017 scientific review found that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. This shocking revelation also received some criticism from other scientists soon after it was published for being overly sensationalized (per The Guardian).

Whatever the outcome of the scientific debate over sugar's addictiveness is, we all know how hard it can be cutting down on sugary sweets. Especially when they're wrapped in colorful packages and marketed to attract us even more. But it's something we know we should do. From diabetes to dental problems to obesity, sugar leads to poor health outcomes if eaten in excess over long periods of time. And newer research shows that even though we love candy, it may do serious damage to our hearts (via Harvard Health Publishing). Luckily, there are ways you can swap out candy for healthier foods and still get a bit of sweetness in your life without the unhealthy processed sugars.

Using fruit as a candy substitute

Packed with natural flavors and bursting with bright, natural colors, fruit is stiff competition for candy. In fact, many popular candies come in fruity flavors. While fruit does contain sugar, it differs from the sugar found in candy and is far less likely to spike blood sugar, promote obesity, and cause tooth decay. Fruit is also a great source of necessary vitamins, powerful antioxidants, and essential dietary fiber (via Medical News Today).

Aside from eating fresh fruit in its natural form, you can try different preparations. For instance, drying fruit in a dehydrator makes it last longer and intensifies its sweetness. Dehydrated fruit, and other dried fruit products like fruit leather, are perfect for taking on the go, so you always have something to snack on when you crave candy. Freezing blended-up fruit into popsicles molds is another way to keep a fresh and healthy alternative on hand.

Some sweet alternatives to white sugar

The last decade has seen a boom in demand for alternative sweaters. While some of these alternatives are highly processed, like stevia and erythritol, you don't have to veer too far from nature to get something healthier and sweet. In fact, more natural, less processed sweeteners can make candies and baked goods delicious without processed and refined sweetening agents and may even provide some form of nutrient quality.

For instance, sweeteners like honey may not impact blood sugar in the same way as white sugar and contain healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (via Medical News Today). In general, less processed sweeteners, like molasses, are more beneficial than refined sugar and have impressive health properties like antioxidants, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6, according to Healthline. Other sugar alternatives include maple syrup, date syrup, and even coconut sugar. Stocking up on sweet snacks made with more of these kinds of natural sweeteners can provide a healthier alternative to candy.