October 30, 2013 1:15 pm
Updated: October 30, 2013 2:18 pm

The best and worst Halloween treats, as rated by nutritionists

There’s chocolate, candy, chips and popcorn. Halloween is about the treats as much as it is about the costumes.

Global News

TORONTO — There’s chocolate, candy, chips and popcorn. Halloween is about the treats as much as it is about the costumes.

But the little fun-sized snacks can add up. And this week, they’re probably within reach everywhere you go – the loot from your kids’ trick-or-treating, at the grocery store, in the office.

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Global News created a master list of Halloween-sized snacks (the smaller “treat” sized ones), stacking the options side by side according to calories, fat, sugar and sodium and handed the information to two Canadian nutrition experts.

Jennifer Sygo is a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic Canada and Carrie Regan is a registered dietitian with Lakeridge Health.

READ MORE: Top 10: Some of the worst foods for your heart’s health

Take a look at how they graded the classic Halloween favourites.

The sweetest offender

Eat just eight of those tiny orange pumpkin Peeps marshmallows and you’re committing to 110 calories and 26 grams of sugar.

“What’s deceiving about these candies is that people see they’re fat-free and think they’re okay but they don’t realize how much sugar is disguised in these things,” Regan said.

Twenty-six grams of sugar? That’s equivalent to about 6.5 teaspoons.

READ MORE: How much sugar is in Nutella? Canadian doctor decodes what’s in the hazelnut spread

If chocolate is your vice…

(Photo credit: Global News)

Global News photo

Go for an Aero chocolate bar. The small chocolate treat clocks in at 40 calories, two grams of fat and four grams of sugar — that nutrition label appeases both Regan and Sygo.

READ MORE: Preschoolers’ eating habits linked to future heart health risks, Canadian study suggests

Sygo said that the best and worst options depend on what a consumer is looking for. If it’s less calories, then Aero is your best bet because it has fewer calories than the other chocolate bars. Coffee Crisp and Kit Kat each have 60 calories each, a Reese Peanut Butter Cup has 80 and peanut M&M’s have 70 calories. About 80 calories can get you a slice of toast instead.

Whoppers are also a great chocolate option with only 30 calories in an individual packet.

Sodium overload

Chips, even in snack-sized form, aren’t necessarily a good choice next to the candies and chocolate. That’s because they’re packed with sodium.

A 28 gram bag of Cheetos has 150 calories, 240 milligrams of sodium and nine grams of fat.

“They seem like an appropriate snack but they’re offering very little nutritional value,” Regan said.

READ MORE: Canadians ‘overwhelmingly’ support salt reduction initiatives

Sygo said we should be aiming to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. One bag already gets you 10 per cent of the way. And let’s be honest, most diners graze on more than one portion in a sitting.

A bag of Lay’s chips also has 90 calories — more than a medium-sized apple — and 70 milligrams of sodium, Doritos has 80 calories and 115 grams of sodium and even a Halloween-sized bag of Goldfish crackers offers the same nutrition as the nacho chips.

Boxes of Halloween treat-sized bags of Goldfish crackers at the grocery store. (Photo credit: Global News)

Global News photo

The sugar bombs

Aside from the pumpkin marshmallows, Tootsie Rolls, Sour Patch Kids and Skittles were all made with one ingredient, more or less: sugar.

A single packet of Skittles, for example, had 11 grams of sugar. Two 15-gram bags contain five teaspoons of sugar, “which is a lot of sugar for very little candy,” Regan said.

Three Tootsie Rolls have 140 calories and 28 g carbohydrates. That’s as much as two slices of bread.

READ MORE: 5 tips for packing healthy, kid-friendly back to school lunches

For the sweet tooth

The safer bet if you crave candy is to go for the Jolly Rancher lollipops — one lollipop has only 25 calories, and six grams of sugar.

The Tootsie Pop? It has 60 calories and 15 grams of sugar.

(Photo credit: Global News)

Global News photo

Divided on peanut butter

We all know there’s a difference between a Reese Peanut Butter Cup and Reese’s Pieces. The nutrition facts also say the same. A peanut butter cup has 80 calories — about the same as two small plums — five grams of fat and 55 milligrams of sodium.

A box of Reese’s Pieces has 50 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 15 milligrams of sodium.

The peanut butter in the cup could offer some protein and fill you up longer, Sygo said. But the Reese’s Pieces has fewer calories, said Regan. In the end, sodium at small quantities — there’s a 40 milligram disparity — doesn’t help consumers choose one over the other.

Your third option? Dark chocolate with a tablespoon of peanut butter, Sygo said.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

© Shaw Media, 2013

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