Health

Make better candy choices on Halloween

Updated 3:26 PM ET, Tue October 30, 2012
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It's that time of year again: Kids will soon be knocking at the door with pillowcases in hand, and you have no clue what to give them. You've heard about the dangers of childhood obesity, but no one wants to be the house giving out boring treats to little goblins and ghouls. Here are some better candy choices for Halloween trick-or-treaters. Thinkstock
If you're planning on handing out chocolate on Halloween, go for dark chocolate instead of milk. It's higher in antioxidants and the healthier of the two, according to CNN Health pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu. She also suggests opting for the fun-size candy instead of regular size bars to ensure kids are eating in moderation. Thinkstock Images
Don't be impressed by candies with words like "fruit" in the title, if they're chewy, sticky substances. Those are the ones that are more likely to stay in your teeth, according to Dr. Michael Vernon, president of the Georgia Dental Association. "It's not the amount of sugar as much as it's the frequency that it stays in the mouth," he says. Chewy sweets like gummy bears tend to get stuck in kids' teeth and can cause cavities. The better option? Sugar-free gum. Getty Images
In 2010, Americans ate approximately 24 pounds of candy per capita, according to the Census Bureau. Switch it up and go for a salty treat like nuts, which have a lower number of calories and contain a good amount of "healthy fat," according to Shu. Another option is popcorn balls, which are better for you than many kinds of candy, Vernon says. Getty Images
Don't be afraid to mix it up by handing out toys instead of treats -- everyone on your block will be giving out sweets. Shu, who's also a mother of two, gives out everything from Pokemon cards to stickers. Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
No Halloween bag would be complete without a sucker or two. Shu recommends choosing ones without a gooey center to prevent pieces from getting stuck in kids' teeth. Dum Dums are a good bet, since they're smaller and have very few calories. Thinkstock
When the kids are safely tucked in bed, don't feel compelled to eat up all the leftover candy yourself. Donate it to an organization like the Halloween Candy Buy Back. This program repackages the candy and sends it to more than 60,000 U.S. troops overseas.