Report

45 Popular Valentine’s Day Candies—Ranked!

Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know if you're going to get partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or real cocoa.

Report

45 Popular Valentine’s Day Candies—Ranked!

Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know if you're going to get partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or real cocoa.

Poetic love letters are a thing of the past. There’s nothing that tells your sweetie you love them like an oversized, heart-shaped box of sweet, questionable chocolates.

Although Valentine’s Day originated way back in the Roman times, gifting candy on the holiday is a more recent addition. Whether it’s because of chocolate’s status as the go-to food of seduction or just a way for candy companies to sell more of the sugary stuff during the Christmas-Easter lull, there’s no denying that candy and Valentine’s Day are inseparable. In fact, almost 50 percent of Americans gift candy on Valentine’s day, totaling 1.7 billion dollars in sales and a whopping 53 million pounds of chocolate. And all this candy isn’t just for your sweetheart. With 838 million dollars expected to be spent on children’s classroom Valentine exchanges, this holiday is almost as candy-filled as Halloween.

We all know the holidays are a time to indulge, but that doesn’t mean you should throw your dietary disciplines out the window. Yes, chocolate may be rich in stress-reducing, fat-blasting flavonoids—which both factor into its reputed aphrodisiac qualities—but its waist-whittling effects do not extend to the fake stuff. Many of these chocolates are made with artificial additives from oil-derived food colorings to high fructose corn syrup. And even though chocolate fat contains many healthy fatty acids found from the addition of cocoa butter, like monounsaturated oleic acids, when this fat is provided by trans fats ingredients, like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, you won’t be reaping the cholesterol-lowering benefits. Instead, you’ll be increasing your risk of heart disease and consuming an additive that is now banned by the FDA.

That’s why Eat This, Not That! took a hard look at the nutritional info on every kind of Valentine’s Day candy—from chocolates to Sweethearts—and ranked them best to worst. Because heart-shaped chocolate boxes and Valentine’s-ready candy packs come in different sizes, we compared the nutritional profiles using calories, fat, and sugar per gram as well as the quality of ingredients. And if a romantic setting and glass of champagne aren’t enough, make sure to have one of these Healthy Foods for Better Sex for your V-day dinner to help you get in the mood!

HEART SHAPED BOXES

Valentines Candy Ranked heart boxes

With 36 million heart-shaped chocolate boxes sold for Valentine’s Day, there’s a 22 percent chance you’re going to get one. To help you choose which sweets to get your sweetie, we started by ranking these heart-shaped boxes based on calories, fat, and sugar per gram. Next, we rifled through the ingredient list to adjust the chocolates’ placement. Demerits were given to products with artificial additives like food dyes, partially hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup, and points were awarded to those with fewer, more natural ingredients.

FIRST… THE WORST


9

Russell Stover Assorted Truffles: Milk, White & Dark

Valentines Candy Ranked Russell Stover Assorted Truffles

Per 2 pieces (32 g): 170 calories, 10 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 30 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.31 calories, 0.31 g fat (0.19 g saturated fat), 0.48 g sugar

Russell Stover claims these truffles are “made from 100% real chocolate,” but don’t be fooled! The chocolate in these truffles is anything but high quality. They’re made with “chocolate processed with alkali”, meaning the chocolate has been treated with an alkalizing agent. This agent is used to balance the cacao’s natural acidity but it also reduces the flavonoid and polyphenol content substantially.

8

Ghirardelli Squares: Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling, Dark Chocolate with Mint Filling, Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Filling, Dark Chocolate 60% Cacao

Valentines Candy Ranked Ghirardelli Squares

Per 3 squares (42 g): 200 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.76 calories, 0.29 g fat (0.17 g saturated fat), 0.52 g sugar

“Sugar should be the last ingredient on a chocolate bar’s list, or at least listed after cocoa,” notes Minneapolis-based dietitian Cassie Bjork RD, LD.. These nutritionally void Ghirardelli squares have the sweet stuff listed first, indicating that there is more sugar than any other ingredient per bite. What’s worse, they’ve added sugar alcohols like sorbitol, which can have a laxative effect if eaten in excess.

7

Russell Stover Private Reserve Fine Assorted Chocolates

Valentines Candy Ranked Russell Stover Private Reserve

Per 3 pieces (43 g): 210 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.88 calories, 0.26 g fat (0.16 g saturated fat), 0.51 g sugar

Besides the fact that Russell Stover is the number one boxed-chocolate company in the U.S., they also have one of the widest selections. That also means more work for you when deciding which box to pick up, and it shouldn’t be this one. Although Russell Stover uses some cocoa butter in their truffle recipe, they also mix in palm kernel oil — bad news for your health and weight loss progress. The stearic acid in cocoa butter fights inflammation and staves off hunger, but the highly processed palm kernel oil promotes inflammation and passes quickly through the GI tract, so you won’t likely won’t reap much of this truffle’s cocoa benefits.

6

Russell Stover Limited Edition Red Velvet Candy in Fine Milk, Dark and White Chocolate

Valentines Candy Ranked Russell Stover Red Velvet

Per 2 pieces (34 g): 150 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.11 calories, 0.28 g fat (0.19 g saturated fat), 0.49 g sugar

We’re more than thrilled that Russell Stover’s Red Velvet chocolates are only a limited edition flavor. Loaded with artificial flavors, colors, alkaline-processed cocoa, these red velvet candies are far from actually being chocolate.

5

Russell Stover All Milk Chocolates

Valentines Candy Ranked Russell Stover All Milk Chocolates

Per 2 pieces (34 g): 150 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.13 calories, 0.33 g fat (0.12 g saturated fat), 0.54 g sugar

The fact that milk chocolate provides 550 mg fewer cocoa flavonoids as the same serving size of dark chocolate isn’t nearly as much of an issue as the amount of artificial, petroleum-derived food dyes added to these chocolates. Not only do these dyes allow manufacturers to mask the drab colors of heavily processed foods, but certain hues, like Yellow 6 and Red 40 used in these chocolates, have been found to be contaminated with known carcinogens.

4

Ghirardelli Squares: Dark & Strawberry

Valentines Candy Ranked Ghirardelli Squares Dark Strawberry

Per 3 squares (45 g): 170 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.78 calories, 0.11 g fat (0.04 g saturated fat), 0.64 g sugar

For a brand that has such a good reputation, we were pretty disappointed to see high fructose corn syrup on the label of these dark chocolate and strawberry squares. Since 1980, the US obesity rate has risen proportionately to the increase in HFCS, and Americans are now consuming at least 200 calories of the sweetener each day. When The Endocrine Society conducted a study, researchers found that adults who consumed high levels of high fructose corn syrup for just two weeks had increased levels of bad cholesterol, raising their risk of heart disease.

3

Russell Stover Pecan Delights

Valentines Candy Ranked Russell Stover Pecan Delights

Per 1 piece (25 g): 130 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium,15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.20 calories, 0.32 g fat (0.14 g saturated fat), 0.5 g sugar

The following three chocolate boxes were knocked to the bottom of the list, regardless of their nutritional qualities, because they all include one ingredient: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, also known as trans fat. Food processors have been using this fat for decades because of its low cost and long shelf life; however, they’re not nearly as beneficial to consumers. Trans fat is now banned by the FDA because it’s been shown to diminish memory and increase the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and stroke.

2

Russell Stover Assorted Fine Chocolates

Valentines Candy Ranked Russell Stover Assorted Fine Chocolates

Per 2 pieces (34 g): 150 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 50 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.40 calories, 0.17 g fat (0.12 g saturated fat), 0.56 g sugar

When Russell Stover named these “fine chocolates” they must have been referring to the fact that you had to read the “fine” print in order to see there were trans fats in your chocolates. A loophole in the FDA’s labeling requirements allows processors to add as much as 0.49 gram per serving and still claim zero in their nutrition facts.

AND THE #1 WORST CHOCOLATE HEART BOX IS… ELMER CHOCOLATE HEART BOX

Valentines Candy Ranked elmer

Per 1 package (57 g): 240 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 41 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 35 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.21 calories, 0.18 g fat (0.09 g saturated fat), 0.61 g sugar

This overly portioned chocolate box means you’d be getting 70 percent of your recommended daily sugar intake, recently set by USDA, in this set of chocolates—and we both know you’re bound to polish off the entire lot. Besides the fact that this recipe calls for more sugar than cocoa butter, it’s also laden with a myriad of artificial colors, some of which have even been banned in other countries because of their proven health dangers.

AND NOW… THE BEST


9

DeMet’s Turtles Original Heart Box

Valentines Candy Ranked Turtles Heart

Per 2 pieces (33 g): 170 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.15 calories, 0.3 g fat (0.12 g saturated fat), 0.48 g sugar

Milk chocolate, pecans, and sweet caramel come together in this Turtles heart box. It’s just too bad the caramel isn’t just caramel, it’s “touched up” with caramel coloring. This additive wouldn’t be dangerous if you made it the old-fashioned way, but the food industry follows a different recipe: They treat sugar with ammonia, which can produce some nasty carcinogens. How carcinogenic are these compounds? A Center for Science in the Public Interest report asserted that the high levels of caramel color found in soda account for roughly 15,000 cancers in the U.S. annually.

8

Godiva Assorted Chocolates: Milk Chocolate Ganache, Dark Chocolate Ganache, White Chocolate Ganache, Strawberry Cheesecake & Creme Brulee

Valentines Candy Ranked Godiva Assorted Chocolates

Per 3 pieces (38 g): 190 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.00 calories, 0.34 g fat (0.21 g saturated fat), 0.42 g sugar

Don’t be fooled by Godiva’s good reputation as a chocolatier. Sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, glycerin, caramel, and sweetened condensed milk: all the ways sugar presents itself in these ganaches.

7

Ghirardelli Sweet Hearts: Chocolate Almond Cream, Dark Chocolate Filled with Cacao Nibs in Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut Cream with Toffee Bits, Milk Chocolate Filled with Caramel Cream

Valentines Candy Ranked Ghirardelli Sweet Hearts

Per 4 pieces (42 g): 230 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 30 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.47 calories, 0.36 g fat (0.19 g saturated fat), 0.48 g sugar

Each Ghirardelli Sweet Heart is slightly smaller than a traditional piece of boxed chocolate, but that’s not reason enough to eat more of them. Yes, they’re made with real chocolate, cocoa butter, and healthy nuts, but too much of anything can lead to weight gain, so be very adamant about portion control!

6

Merci Finest Assortment of 7 European Chocolates

Valentines Candy Ranked Merci box

Per 3 pieces (38 g): 220 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 30 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.79 calories, 0.37 g fat (0.21 g saturated fat), 0.47 g sugar

While merci only recently released an ad campaign in the U.S. to increase exposure, this European chocolatier has been making fine chocolates since 1965. Their assortment of 7 chocolates ranks 7th compared to their peers because of a higher prevalence of sugar and use of vegetable fats.

5

Ghiradelli Squares Valentines Impressions: Milk & Dark Chocolate and Milk & White Chocolate

Valentines Candy Ranked Valentines Impressions

Per 3 squares (39 g): 200 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.13 calories, 0.33 g fat (0.21 g saturated fat), 0.54 g sugar

When people claim chocolate is good for you, they might be referring to these Ghrirdelli Valentine’s Impressions squares. They’re made with dark chocolate, which contains flavonols that help to increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. In turn, this can alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety and boost your mood, according to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research. All good things since stress triggers increased cortisol levels, which increase your appetite and can lead to weight gain.

4

Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles

Valentines Candy Ranked Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles

Per 3 balls (36 g): 220 calories, 17 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 6.11 calories, 0.47 g fat (0.33 g saturated fat), 0.39 g sugar

We’d rather see only cocoa butter in our chocolates than adding extra vegetable oils, but at least Lindt uses coconut oil. The medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in coconut oil can increase 24-hour energy expenditure in humans by as much as 5 percent, helping you blast belly fat.

3a

Ferrero Collection: Rondnoir, Rocher, and Raffaello

Valentines Candy Ranked Ferrero Collection

Per 4 pieces (40 g): 240 calories, 17 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 6.00 calories, 0.43 g fat (0.18 g saturated fat), 0.40 g sugar

3b

Ferrero Rocher Fine Hazelnut Chocolates

Valentines Candy Ranked Ferrero Rocher Fine Hazelnut Chocolates

Per 3 pieces (38 g): 230 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 25 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 15 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 6.05 calories, 0.42 g fat (0.13 g saturated fat), 0.39 g sugar

Believe it or not, chocolate actually contains fiber, which helps keep your appetite in check and increase feelings of satiety. And these Ferrero chocolate balls will give you 2 grams worth in their small serving. Of course, foods like oatmeal or broccoli will always come out on top when it comes to fiber content. Nevertheless, when we’re talking sweets—choosing these chocolates over some of the more artificial-additive-laden options will delay that “hangry” feeling much more effectively. But while the collection (which includes their dark chocolate flavor and coconut-coated option) certainly gives you a boost of fiber, if you like sticking to the classics, Ferrero Rocher’s hazelnut is nearly identical in terms of nutrition.

2

Russell Stover Nut Cluster Assortment: Pecans & English Walnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Peanuts

Valentines Candy Ranked Nut Cluster

Per 3 pieces (40 g): 230 calories, 16 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 5 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.75 calories, 0.4 g fat (0.15 g saturated), 0.35 g sugar

When Russell Stover isn’t injecting their chocolates with partially hydrogenated oils, they actually can be pretty good! These nut clusters are made with minimal ingredients and almost all natural products, besides the use of the artificial flavor, vanillin. Plus, they’re loaded with some of our favorite heart-healthy nuts for weight loss.

AND THE #1 BEST CHOCOLATE HEART BOX IS… LINDT GOURMET TRUFFLES

Valentines Candy Ranked Lindt Gourmet

Per 2 pieces (32 g): 200 calories, 15 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 25 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.13 calories, 0.38 g fat (0.47 g saturated fat), 0.33 sugar

Even though there are five different flavors—milk chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla, dark chocolate, and white chocolate—these truffles are made with only 11 ingredients, which is one of the shortest ingredient lists for all boxed chocolates. If their simple ingredient list doesn’t sway you, maybe the fact that they have the least amount of sugar per gram might.

CHOCOLATES

Valentines Candy Ranked

Even if chocolate bar say they’re “made with chocolate,” that doesn’t mean they won’t have partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, harmful dyes like Yellow #5 and Red #40, and artificial flavoring. We ranked these individual-serving-style chocolates based on nutritionals, and then separated the worst from the best by examining their ingredient lists.

FIRST… THE WORST


6a

Hershey’s Giant Kiss

Valentines Candy Ranked Hershey Kiss

Hershey’s Kiss (1.45 oz) Per 1 package (41 g): 200 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.00 calories, 0.30 g fat (0.18 g saturated fat), 0.55 g sugar

6b

Hershey’s Giant Kiss

Valentines Candy Ranked Hershey Giant Kiss

Hershey’s Kiss (7 oz) Per 1/5 package (40 g): 200 calories, 12 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 24 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.00 calories, 0.30 g fat (0.18 g saturated fat), 0.55 g sugar

If you’re looking to cut down your appetite, you might want to start looking at your portion sizes. So suggests an Arizona State University study that showed increases in portion size often lead to increased intake. Researchers found that rats, when given the choice of a single large pellet or 30 small ones, favored—and ate less of—the smaller portions. So when it comes to these giant Hershey’s kisses, even with identical nutrition profiles, we suggest going with the smaller one to keep you weight loss goals in check. (But if you’re genuinely hungry, turn to one of the 50 Best Snack Foods in America rather than filling up on candy.)

5

Nestle Crunch Hearts Chocolate

Valentines Candy Ranked nestle

Per 6 pieces (42 g): 210 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 50 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 24 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.00 calories, 0.26 g fat (0.17 g saturated fat), 0.57 g sugar

Even though it’s a big name brand, Nestle does a good job of keeping artificial additives out of its crunch hearts. However, you can thank the crisped rice for the low calorie and sugar count. But don’t thank it too much: even the rice is made with sugar.

4a

Hershey’s Solid Milk Chocolate Heart

Valentines Candy Ranked hershey heart

Per 1/4 heart (35 g): 180 calories, 11 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 30 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.14 calories, 0.31 g fat (0.20 g saturated fat), 0.54 g sugar

4b

Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart

Valentines Candy Ranked Reeses Heart

Per 1/4 package (35 g): 180 calories, 10 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.14 calories, 0.29 g fat (0.13 g saturated fat), 0.54 g sugar

Even though Reese’s Peanut Butter Heart has added peanuts, these two candies are nearly identical in nutrition besides the fact that Hershey’s has more saturated fats and fats. The reason is most likely due to the extra chocolate in Hershey’s, which has naturally occurring stearic and palmitic saturated fats. It’s, unfortunately, a give and take. While one has more fat, the other has extra preservatives, like TBHQ. This petroleum-derived antioxidant, or tertiary butylhydroquinone, is added to your food to preserve freshness, but according to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food. It’s also commonly found in fast food chicken nuggets.

3

Lindt Lindor Limited Edition Seasonal Flavor Milk and White Milk Chocolate Truffles

Valentines Candy Ranked WHITE MILK TRUFFLES

Per 3 balls (36 g): 230 calories, 18 g fat (13 g saturated), 35 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, less than 1 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 6.39 calories, 0.50 g fat (0.36 g saturated fat), 0.39 g sugar

They might be pretty in pink, but these seasonal truffles are full of “artificial flavors.” When manufacturers use this blanket term, it denotes any of hundreds of allowable chemicals such as butyl alcohol and phenylacetaldehyde dimethyl acetal. The exact chemicals used in flavoring are only to the discretion of food processors, used to imitate specific fruits, butter, spices, and so on.

2

York Peppermint Patty Hearts

Valentines Candy Ranked York Peppermint Patty Hearts

Per 3 patties (41 g): 150 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 27 g sugar, <1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.66 calories, 0.07 g fat (0.05 g saturated fat), 0.66 g sugar

We must admit, we’re thrilled to see peppermint oil listed as an ingredient in this holiday staple. Mint offers a plethora of health benefits including aiding weight loss, fighting cancer-causing free radicals, settling an upset stomach, reducing pain and even improving brain function. All good things, except for the fact that peppermint oil is one of the last listed ingredients. The first? Sugar. Consuming too much can increase your risk of serious health problems like diabetes and cancer, not to mention lead to energy crashes.

AND THE #1 WORST CHOCOLATE IS… Palmer Cuddly Cuties Bear

Valentines Candy Ranked Palmer Cuddly Cuties Bear

Per 1/2 piece (43 g): 220 calories, 13 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 26 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.12 calories, 0.30 g fat (0.28 g saturated fat), 0.60 g sugar

This “yummy milky & chocolaty candy” is just that: chocolat-“y”. There’s not as much chocolate as there is sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Theoretically, fully hydrogenated oils should contain zero trans fat as opposed to their “partial” counterparts. But the process of hydrogenation isn’t completely perfect, which means that trans fat will inevitably occur in small amounts.

AND NOW… THE BEST


7

Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts Milk Chocolate

Valentines Candy Ranked Peanut Butter Hearts

Per 1 piece (34 g): 170 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 135 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 4 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.00 cal, 0.29 g fat (0.09 g saturated fat), 0.47 g sugar

Reese’s would be better off adjusting their ingredient list than just trying to get their sugar content down. With artificial additives like TBHQ and PGPR. PGPR is an emulsifier used to help chocolate flow better in a manufacturing plant, but why add artificial ingredients when natural cocoa butter will do the same job?

6

Hershey’s XOXO Bar

Valentines Candy Ranked Hersheys XOXO Bar

Per 1/3 bar (38 g): 190 calories, 11 g fat (7 g sautrated fat), 30 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 3 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.00 calories, 0.29 g fat (0.18 g saturated fat), 0.55 g sugar

If you couldn’t decide between Hershey’s hugs or kisses, you might as well get both in this bar. With the extra large size, just make sure you share it with a loved one.

5

Russel Stover Caramel Brownie Heart

Valentines Candy Ranked Caramel Brownie Heart

Per 1 piece (28 g): 30 calories, 5 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 1.07 calories, 0.18 g fat (0.13 g saturated fat), 0.61 g sugar

Sometimes you deserve a little treat, whether it be a caramel brownie heart or one of your favorite cheat meals!

4

Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffle Hearts

Valentines Candy Ranked Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffle Hearts

Per 3 hearts (42 g): 250 calories, 18 g fat (14 g saturated), 40 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, less than 1 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 2 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.95 calories, 0.43 g fat (0.33 g saturated fat), 0.45 g sugar

While these truffles would typically rank lower because of their sugar content, for something that looks so simple, their ingredient list is double the length of their gourmet truffles, most likely contributing to the extra calories per gram.

3

Ghirardelli Milk & Dark Chocolate Squares Valentines Impressions

Valentines Candy Ranked Ghirardelli Milk squares

Per 1 square (13 g): 70 calories, 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat0, 10 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.13 calories, 0.33 g fat (0.21 g saturated fat), 0.54 g sugar

It might sound a little counterintuitive, but to really take control over your cravings you’ve got to indulge in them. “A little sweet treat on occasion can help keep those cravings in check and allow you to follow your weight-loss or weight-maintenance regimen,” says Maria-Paula Carrillo, M.S., R.D.N., L.D. With their single-serving packaging and great nutritional profile, we’d recommend snacking on one of these Ghirardelli squares rather than reaching for something higher in sugar.

2

UnReal Candy Coated Milk Chocolates

Valentines Candy Ranked UnReal Candy Coated Milk Chocolates

Per 18 pieces (16 g): 70 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 12 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.38 calories, 0.19 g fat (0.13 g saturated fat), 0.44 g sugar

They might be lower in calories than the number one slot, but these candies also have less fat, and the good kind of fat, so it’s not all good news. You’re still getting a low-sugar product with 40% fair trade certified ingredients, so your belly and mind can be at ease.

AND THE #1 BEST CHOCOLATE IS… UnReal Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Valentines Candy Ranked UnReal Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Per 1 cup (15 g): 80 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 75 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 5.33 calories, 0.40 g fat (0.20 g saturated fat), 0.40 g sugar

When you want to reach for a peanut butter cup, make it this one. UnReal uses dark chocolate, via “cacao.” This is the part of the chocolate that contains flavanols, which can help lower blood sugar and also decrease body fat according to the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

HARD CANDIES AND GUMMIES

Valentines Candy Ranked

These candies were primarily ranked based on their nutritional profiles: anything with almost a gram of sugar per gram of candy (over 0.90 g) went straight to the worst. From there, we looked at their ingredients and adjusted our rankings accordingly. If any of the sweet treats had partially hydrogenated oils—i.e. trans fat in disguise—they went straight to the bottom of the list.

FIRST… THE WORST


6

Nerd Candy Card Kit

Valentines Candy Ranked Nerds

Per 1 box (13 g): 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.85 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.92 g sugar

You’d have to be quite the nerd to know exactly what ingredients like “dextrose” and “malic acid” listed in these sugary candies are. (Hint: sugar and sour). You’re better off leaving them on the shelf.

5

Wonka Fun Dip Valentine Card and Candy Kit

Valentines Candy Ranked Wonka Fun Dip Valentine Card and Candy Kit

Per 14 grams: 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.57 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.93 g sugar

You’d be better off sending your kid to school with individual bags of sugar. This is basically the same thing, except it also has artificial food dyes. Yum.

4

Warheads Classroom Exchange Sour Dippin’ Pucker Packs

Valentines Candy Ranked Warheads Classroom Exchange

Per 1 piece (8.4 g): 30 calories, 0 g fat, 8 g carbs, 0 fiber, 8 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.57 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.95 g sugar

Although Warheads has a relatively low calorie content, it’s almost made up entirely of sugar—0.95 grams of the sweet stuff per gram of candy! They’re also packed with artificial flavors and color dyes. Not that this is too shocking, just look at the logo’s face! Instead, go natural, and check out the 21 Amazing Things Bananas Do To Your Body.

3

Peeps Strawberry Creme Marshmallow Hearts

Valentines Candy Ranked Peeps Strawberry Creme Marshmallow Hearts

Per 3 hearts (29 g): 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 10 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 22 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.44 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.76 g sugar

With over 75 percent of a gram of peep dedicated to sugar, Strawberry Creme Peeps are certainly one of the worst. Not to mention the fact they include Red 40 and Red 3. The FDA has proposed a ban on Red #3 in the past, but so far the agency has been unsuccessful in implementing it. After the dye was inextricably linked to thyroid tumors in rat studies, the FDA managed to have the liquid form of the dye removed from external drugs and cosmetics… we’re not sure why you’d still want to ingest it, though.

2

Valentine Day Tootsie Pops

Valentines Candy Ranked tootsie

Per 1 pop (17 grams): 60 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 0 g fiber 10 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.53 calories, 0 fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.59 g sugar

What does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Apparently, going through layers of sugar, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

AND THE #1 WORST HARD CANDY IS… AIRHEADS MINI BARS & CARDS

Valentines Candy Ranked airheads

Per 3 bars (34 g): 140 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.11 calories, 0.04 g fat (0.03 g saturated fat), 0.56 g sugar

Even though they’re only 50 percent sugar, the other 50 percent of the gram is made up of modified cornstarch, artificial flavors and colors, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil—nothing good.

AND NOW… THE BEST


5

Skittles Candy ‘n Stickers

Valentines Candy Ranked skittles

Per 3 packages (46 g): 190 calories, 2 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 34 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 4.11 calories, 0.04 g fat (0.04 g saturated fat), 0.74 g sugar

The only reason these Skittles are on the “best” list is because they’re low in sugar—per gram, that is; eating a whole serving will give you 70 percent of your daily recommended intake of sugar—unlike those candies over on the “worst.” However, we’re still not recommending them anytime soon. The long list of ingredients is almost entirely artificial colors (10 of them!).

4

Sweethearts Conversation Heart Boxes

Valentines Candy Ranked sweethearts

Per 1 box (26 g): 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 24 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.85 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.77 g sugar

There’s nothing better than picking up a little sugar heart with the words “BE MINE” on it. Well, maybe there are 4 better options, but these aren’t too bad.

3

Frankford Kids Heart Box with Gummy Hearts

Valentines Candy Ranked Frankford Kids Heart Box with Gummy Hearts

Per 4 pieces (36 g): 139 calories, 0 g fat, 15 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 20 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.86 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.59 g sugar

Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t get a Valentine’s day box of candy! Relatively low in sugar, they’re also low in nutritional value (as are all these candies) so you’re better off getting your little one some chocolates.

2

Valentine Dots

Valentines Candy Ranked dots

Per 11 pieces (40 g): 130 calories, 0 g fat, 21 g sugar

Nutrition per gram: 3.25 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.53 g sugar

Before sugary worms, bears, and sour kids, gumdrops stole both America’s hearts and tastebuds, which is exactly what Dots are! In fact, if you lived in the late 19th century, you just might be calling your sweetheart “gumdrop.”

AND THE #1 BEST CANDY IS… A TIE


1a

YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears Valentines Day

Valentines Candy Ranked yumearth

Per 2 treats (23 g): 88 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 0 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.83 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.43 g sugar

1b

Black Forest Valentine Hearts

Valentines Candy Ranked blackforest

Per 1 pouch (23 g): 70 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 17 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 1 g protein

Nutrition per gram: 3.04 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0.43 g sugar

Allergen-free, organic, free from artificial dyes, you name it. These gummies are pulling out all the stops. They’re made with real fruit juice, and they’re low in sugar.