The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar each day. Yikes! “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that we try to limit the amount of sugar to 10 percent or less of our total calories. If you’re following a 2000-calorie diet, that means 200 calories of sugar—about 50 grams or 12 teaspoons—max,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.
You might not think that extra 5 teaspoons (20 grams) really matters all that much. But if we all trimmed our consumption by 20 percent (14 grams), we could reduce total medical costs by more than $10 billion by 2035, University of California San Francisco scientists found. Not to mention, we’d all be much healthier.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
So where can we cut back? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that these are the five most common sources of added sweeteners in our diets:
- Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks
- Grain desserts (such as cakes and cookies)
- Fruit drinks
- Dairy desserts (including ice cream and frozen yogurt)
Come Easter, it’s easy to make a big dent in number five if you choose your treats wisely. We found that a serving of the most common candies can range anywhere from 10 to 30 grams.
Keep the Easter fun going, and read these stories next:
- 5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Easter Treats
- Fun and Creative Easter Basket Ideas for Adults
- 35 Healthy Side Dishes to Celebrate Easter
“When it comes to checking labels for sugar, it’s helpful to note that sugar is the master of disguise. It appears on labels under many aliases such as organic cane juice, fructose, and syrups,” Taub-Dix says.
We’ve ranked a dozen common candies from least to most sugar per serving, so you can (s)hop smart this Easter.
Wonka Sweetarts Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies
50 calories, 10 g sugar per 10 pieces
Before you award the Easter candy trophy to Mr. Wonka, take note of the portion size. Ten pieces weigh 14 grams, according to the package, which is a tiny portion that can be easy to overdo.
Buy now: $44.98 for six 12-ounce bags, Amazon.com
Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs
170 calories, 16 g sugar per 1.2-ounce egg
“To prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar, it’s beneficial to eat protein and fat along with anything sweet. Peanut butter cups [or eggs] anyone?” Taub-Dix says.
Buy now: $21.99 for 36 1.2-ounce eggs, Amazon.com
Lindt Chocolate Carrots
220 calories, 19 g sugar per 3 carrots
The hollow factor is the sweet saving grace that keeps these chocolate carrots at a fairly reasonable 6 grams of sugar each. Sugar is still ingredient number one, but fat from cocoa butter and protein from hazelnut paste and skim milk somewhat flatten out the blood sugar roller coaster.
Buy now: $5.99 for four 1.9-ounce carrots, Amazon.com
Cadbury Creme Egg
150 calories, 20 g sugar per 1.2-ounce egg
“Real eggs are high in protein, which helps slow the digestion of any sugar you consume alongside, “ Taub-Dix says. (Think: A plate of eggs and pancakes.) Unfortunately, Cadbury’s version with a chocolate shell and “creme” filling has just 2 grams of protein. Plus sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.
Buy now: $39.98 for a pack of 48 1.2-ounce eggs, Amazon.com
Russell Stover Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny
220 calories, 24 g sugar per 1 ½-ounce bunny
Seek out hollow bunnies rather than solid ones, like this Russell Stover product. That will extend every mouthful of the chocolate and make it a little easier to trick your brain into eating less of the bunny’s body—and less sugar—at once.
Buy now: $0.99 for a 1 ½-ounce bunny, Amazon.com
Original Marshmallow Bunnies Peeps
110 calories, 26 g sugar per 4 bunnies
A gram of protein from the marshmallow’s gelatin takes a tiny amount of calorie room away from the sugar and corn syrup. Melt one, and a small square of dark chocolate, on top of a whole-wheat graham cracker for a right-sized s’mores-inspired sweet that’s slightly more well-balanced.
Buy now: $8.03 for three 8-packs, Amazon.com
Sour Patch Bunnies
150 calories, 26 g sugar per 16 serving
Deemed as “sour then sweet,” these bitty bunnies are definitely lean to the sweet side. Sugar, invert sugar, and corn syrup all beat out tartaric acid—the sour source—as bigger contributors to the sour patch flavor.
Buy now: $3.99 for a 3.1-ounce box, Amazon.com
Starburst Jelly Beans
140 calories, 27 g sugar per ¼ cup
Almost identical in nutrition to Jelly Belly beans (which are further down our list), these fruit-flavored chews are easy to nosh on en masse. Interestingly, they have similar first three ingredients as the whoppers (sugar, corn syrup, and partially-hydrogenated palm kernel oil).
Buy now: $19.23 for a 5-pound bag, Amazon.com
Cadbury Mini Eggs
190 calories, 27 g sugar per 12 mini eggs
Unlike their larger, creme-filled cousins, these mini eggs are filled completely with milk chocolate. They’re then dunked in a speckled “crisp sugar shell.” Sugar is the largest building block of the milk chocolate, and also the second ingredient on the list after the milk chocolate.
Buy now: $14.99 for four 10-ounce bags, Amazon.com
M&Ms Pastel Milk Chocolate Candies
200 calories, 27 g sugar per 1 ½-ounce serving
While the chocolate adds a dose of fat and protein to slightly balance the sugars, a handful of these colorful pieces still pack a sweet punch. Mix them with a cup or two of popcorn to stretch the sweetness—and fill up on fiber, too.
Buy now: $7.99 for an 11.4-ounce bag, Amazon.com
Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
140 calories, 28 g sugar per 35 beans
“Although I love beans, which are high in protein and fiber, jelly beans have neither! But if jelly beans are your thing, divide them into little snack-sized bags and suck on them one at a time to make them last. Even though there are only 4 calories in each bean, handfuls of them add up quickly,” Taub-Dix says.
Since they contain zero fat or protein, jelly beans are essentially 100 percent sugar carbs.
Buy now: $10.59 for a 2-pound pounch, Amazon.com
Whopper’s Mini Robin Eggs
190 calories, 30 g sugar per 24 eggs
The first three ingredients (dextrose, sugar, corn syrup) of these malted milk eggs are all sources of sugar. No wonder each mini egg has more than ¼ teaspoon of sugar! The fourth ingredient: Partially-hydrogenated palm kernel oil, which tacks on a quarter of your day’s saturated fat quota, too.
Buy now: $10.95 for three 4-ounce packs, Amazon.com
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