Halloween candy proves itself less spooky to health

By on November 7, 2002

Now that the Halloween season is here, candy and chocolate are everywhere and the common idea is that these treats equal massive fat intake, high cholesterol and outbreaks of acne.
On the contrary, several nutritional studies confirm that there is a good side to chocolate.
According to the Miami Department of Food and Nutrition, chocolate will not help keep the doctor away, but it will certainly have some positive effects.
“Chocolate contains serotonin, a brain chemical that acts as an anti-depressant and participates in physical and mental functions, such as learning, sleeping and the control of our moods,” says an official from the organization.
Chocolate can also act as a source of energy and an aid to overall bodily health, according to one study.
The department also said chocolate contains flavonoids that are believed by some to inhibit heart disease. Various studies have shown that flavonoid-rich foods, such as chocolate, can slow blood coagulation and prevent blood clots that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
According to nutritionists, chocolate could be the necessary stimulant to help students pay attention in class, too.
They said that two substances found in chocolate, theobromine and phenyl-ethylamine, have a stimulating effect.
Phenylethylamine is related to amphetamines, which are powerful central nervous system stimulants.
All of these stimulants increase the activity of neurotransmitters in parts of the brain that control a person’s ability to be alert and attentive.
Although chocolate may have some positive side effects, some candy choices are better than others if one is trying to keep his or her weight under control.
CNN’s interactive health site lists Almond Joys, Kit Kats, Mr. Goodbars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as candy to steer clear of when trick-or-treating around the dorms. Each of these treats has more than 14 grams of fat and a large amount of calories and cholesterol, according to CNN.
Nutritionists also warn that treats containing peanuts and nougat are usually high in fat and cholesterol.
Better choices include candy corn, gummy bears, jelly beans or Twizzlers. These have no fat and are low in calories.
Other candy options with less than ten grams of fat include 100 Grand, Butterfinger and Milky Way candy bars, Plain M&M’s, Raisinettes, Skittles, Starbursts and York Peppermint Patties.
These candy selections also contain beneficial amounts of protein and calcium. While they will not provide all of the calcium and protein essential to a healthy diet, the occasional Butterfinger bar is not as bad as one might think.
With a healthy diet and exercise, candy does not have to be the worst enemy during Halloween. As long as candy and chocolate are consumed in moderation, experts say their fattening effects will not curb weight maintenance.


About Sue Studley - Staff Writer