Fall is definitely in the air! Go into any store and you’ll find aisles filled with autumn colors and trimmings. In fact, one of the first major fall celebrations that our culture goes crazy over is Halloween. We go all out for decorations (spending about $1.65 billion each year), costumes (spending about $2.12 billion each year), greeting cards (spending about $350 million each year) and, of course, candy (spending about $1.9 billion each year).
Candy is big business that no doubt contributes to big waistlines and more, since Americans consume about 24 pounds of candy each year. For kids, a large portion of candy consumption is on or around Halloween. In fact, candy corn is the number one top-selling Halloween candy, and Americans eat 20 million pounds of it yearly. The next top-selling Halloween candies include a variety of candy bars—fun-size and all. Together, they make up a lot of unhealthy, tricky treats.
So what goes into these tricky treats? Candy corn is made up of sugar and corn syrup—mostly high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, the most unhealthy and fat-creating of all sugars, since for every 100 calories of HFCS consumed, 40 calories are stored as fat. Additionally, candy corn contains artificial colors and binders as well as “confectioner’s glaze,” also known as cochineal extract or Shellac, which is typically made from the excretions of beetle-like bugs. You heard right. If you eat candy corn, then you’re eating straight-up sugar, HFCS, artificial colors and bug excretion. While bugs might make an interesting Entomology class project for our kids at school, they don’t make good treats to eat.
Popular brands of conventionally made candy bar ingredients aren’t much healthier. They’re loaded with sugar, often including HFCS, and are empty, non-nutritious calories. Incidentally, HFCS is a pretty frightful ingredient not only for reasons mentioned above, but also because of other unhealthy effects that come along with it. For starters, HFCS is hard on the liver, since 100 percent of its metabolic breakdown relies on the liver, leaving behind toxins and harmful waste that can build up in your liver and tissues and can cause fatty liver disease. HFCS contributes to insulin resistance, gout and high blood pressure, too. Likewise, HFCS results in something called VLDL—a highly damaging cholesterol—and in triglycerides that are not used by your cells, but stored as fat.
Also, when you consume HFCS, the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin aren’t activated, which results in overeating since hunger is not suppressed. Additionally, cancer cells love HFCS. They gobble it up, reproduce and take over the body in ways that table sugar-fed cancer cells can’t match—even though plain ol’ sugar feeds cancer cells, too.
Scary stuff, right?
This fall watch out for those tricky, candy treats filled with unhealthy ingredients, and choose treats like fruits, organic whole food bars and other healthy goodies.