Almost everyone likes candy. It is a source of the quick energy that is needed during times of strenuous activity, and since children are almost always playing and using up calories at a rapid rate, wholesome candy may at times satisfy a definite need in their diets.
Candy that is made with pure ingredients, and eaten in moderation at a time that will not interfere with regular meals has a place in the diet. The ingredients of even the least expensive commercial candies must be pure, to conform to the pure food and drug laws, but it must be remembered that the habitual eating of even the purest candy is sure to put pounds of weight on adults, and is equally sure to dull the appetite of both children and adults for the other foods which they need for buoyant health. The largest percentage of the nutritional value of candy is in its energy or caloric content. Other nutrients are present, of course, but in relatively small amounts when compared to some other foods of equal caloric content. In addition, all sweet foods tend to dull the appetite. The practice of eating sweet foods for dessert has become established because they give the feeling of satisfaction and completeness to the meal. Candy is an excellent dessert and can be served frequently at the end of meal in place of other desserts. When sweet foods are eaten before meals, however, they can destroy the desire for other foods to such an extent that the diet may suffer.
It is particularly desirable that the candy eaten generally by both adults and children have some nutritive value in addition to calories. Candies which consist of pure sugar with little flavoring, such as plain fondant, have little additional nutritive value. On the other hand, candies with a good proportion of dried or glazed fruit contain substantial amounts of both minerals and vitamins. Between these extremes are candies containing milk, dried cereals, nuts or fruits, and those made with brown sugar or molasses. These ingredients contain varying amounts of valuable nutrients as well as calories.
In normal health, sugar is one of the most easily and quickly digested and assimilated of all foods. But it should be remembered that white sugar is a pure carbohydrate and contains no protein, minerals or vitamins – only calories. Two scant tablespoons of sugar yield 100 calories. So candy should never be allowed to take the place of any of the foods listed in the diet pattern, but should be used only for extra fuel or energy value.