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This Beloved Candy Has a Shocking Number of Antioxidants, New Study Says

Your sweet tooth may be onto something, but there's a catch.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

The old adage about having "one too many" is usually spot on, well, except for this one instance.

When it comes to sweets, the popular belief is that the limit most definitely does exist. As anyone who has over-indulged knows, there's a certain point where your stomach waves a warning flag to signal that's too full for comfort before it practically begs you to stop ingesting the sugary stuff. If this triggers bad memories from candy-engorging festivities around Halloween, we're sorry—that just means you've experienced it firsthand!

Even nibbling on too much of a healthier "sweet" such as dark chocolate can leave you feeling lethargic and even a bit queasy. However, when consumed in moderation, dark chocolate is an excellent sweet treat to have on hand as it's loaded with healthy antioxidants. Now, new research is suggesting there's another candy on the block that's packing antioxidant properties.

Caramel-lovers, rejoice! According to a new study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, caramel contains a promising number of antioxidants. Interestingly, research linked the antioxidant level to the color of the candy, meaning the richer the color (aka the greater the degree of caramelization) the more antioxidants it will have.

caramel
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"The research states that the heating process that sugars undergo produce antioxidant compounds, like those found in whole plant foods," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD. "Antioxidants have been studied for years and used for centuries in the treatment of conditions and diseases related to free radical damage and toxins, otherwise known as oxidative stress."

It's important that you take the findings of this study with a grain of salt, or should we say, a granule of sugar? In other words, researchers aren't suggesting you reach for a bag of caramel candies over a fruit salad, for example. However, it will likely prompt some exciting research in the future.

"Further studies will be conducted, but this is a promising result that a comfort food could help mitigate acute and chronic conditions," she adds. "If these findings continue it is likely that medicinal caramels will be researched next to make them healthier and possibly multifunctional in what all they deliver to the consumer."

Nutritionist Lisa Richards adds, "This study has the potential to be a quite groundbreaking find in the area of health and the role of a sugar-laden food."

But while you could soon be popping medicinal caramels instead of Werther's Original soft caramel candies, both Best and Richards emphasize that it's premature to consider caramel a healthy food right now.

"It is important to note that the caramels being looked at in this study are of a high quality and meet specific parameters, more so than those found on local grocery store shelves," Richards says. "At this point in the research process it is not safe to say that caramels are 'healthy' per se, but we can definitely look forward to further research."

For more, be sure to check out The Classic Candy Bars That Are Terrible For You.

Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more
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