Candy Nutrition Facts: Lower and Higher Calorie Candies

Assorted candy

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Candy is delicious and delightful. Unfortunately, it's also full of sugar and lacking in nutrition. But is eating candy always bad for you? Can you indulge in some candy while also aiming to improve your diet and maintain a healthy weight? Definitely.

The Empty Calories in Candy

Let's face it: Candy calories are empty calories—calories that provide little or no nutritional benefit. However, not many people are eating candy for nutritional benefit. Rather, the goal of candy is simply to enjoy a sweet treat, which can be part of a healthy diet.

Some nutrition experts even contend that the occasional treat can help you feel less deprived and more positive about your relationship with food, which may help you maintain healthy eating habits.

Food is not just about fuel—sometimes it's simply for pure enjoyment. Nutrition experts understand this, which is why they have developed guidelines for the consumption of empty calories (as in candy) to help you eat them responsibly.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has standards to help you gauge the number of empty calories you can enjoy each day as part of a healthy diet. Each recommendation assumes that empty calories are extra calories consumed after you've reached your recommended intake of other important nutrients and food groups.

The USDA's recommended limits are based on age and sex.

  • Young Children (2–8 years old): 120 calories per day
  • Older Children (9–13 years old): 120–250 calories per day
  • Girls (14–18 years old): 120–250 calories per day
  • Boys (14–18 years old): 160–330 calories per day
  • Adult women: 120–250 calories per day
  • Adult men: 160–330 calories per day

You can certainly indulge in a treat or two without "ruining" an otherwise healthy diet. The key is moderation.

In fact, research proves that enjoying a sweet treat can boost your happiness level, but it also shows that you can get the same pleasure from eating fresh fruit and vegetables. So, it might be worth considering putting a bowl of juicy berries, carrot sticks, or mango slices among your dessert options when considering what sweet treat to enjoy.

But don't get us wrong, we also love the occasional candy indulgence. To help you make informed choices about the candy you eat, we've compiled nutritional and calorie information on a range of low-, medium-, and high-calorie candy options.

Lower Calorie Candies

No candy is really "healthy," but if you want to indulge in store-bought sweets, there are many low-calorie candies to choose from. These options contain a fair amount of sugar but are low in fat, and all contain less than 100 calories per serving.

Most gummy and hard candies fit into this category and, when eaten in moderation, will have the least impact on your empty calorie intake. Here is a sampling of low-calorie candy options:

  • A single Werther's Original Caramel Hard Candy provides 23 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, and about 4 grams of sugar. (Note, a single serving is listed as three candies on the Nutrition Facts label.)
  • A single Tootsie Pop provides 60 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrate, and 11 grams of sugar.
  • One "fun-size" package of Skittles (about 20g) provides 81 calories and 18 grams of carbohydrate (15 grams of which are sugar).
  • Candy cane calories are low, with one (13g) candy cane containing just 50 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrate (10 grams of which are sugar).
  • A small, 1-ounce (28g) bag of cotton candy provides about 110 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrate (all of which are sugar).
  • Starburst contains just under 20 calories per fruit chew and only 4 grams of carbohydrate.
  • The calories in a marshmallow depend on the size that you consume. One regular-sized marshmallow or 10 mini-marshmallows provides 22 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrate (about 4 grams of which are sugar).

Many brands of breath mints are also low in calories. For example, a single Tic Tac contains under 2 calories per mint. A single Certs wintergreen mint contains just 5 calories. Mentos provide 10 calories per mint. And Ice Breakers sugar-free mints contain just 5 calories per mint.

Medium Calorie Candies

If none of the above low-calorie candy choices strike your fancy, consider the medium-calorie options below. These candies are all under 200 calories.

  • A 4-piece serving of Twizzlers Strawberry Twists provides 157 calories, 1 gram of fat, 36 grams of carbohydrate, and 18 grams of sugar.
  • One York Peppermint Pattie provides 165 calories, 3 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrate, and 27 grams of sugar.
  • A 7-piece serving of saltwater taffy provides 160 calories, 2 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrate, and 23 grams of sugar. 

Higher Calorie Candies

Many of the higher calorie candies include a large amount of sugar, but also more fat (and often a little protein). These include chocolate bars and other candy made with chocolate. But don't despair if chocolate is your favorite. You can still indulge, just limit the quantity you eat. Below are some common higher calorie candies:

  • One full-size (1.45 oz) Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds provides 210 calories, 14 grams of fat (7 grams of which is saturated fat), 22 grams of carbohydrate, and 19 grams of sugar.
  • One regular-sized (1.5 oz) Kit Kat wafer bar provides 218 calories, 11 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 20 grams of sugar, and 2.7 grams of protein.
  • One standard-size (2 oz) Snickers bar provides 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrate, 20 grams of sugar, and 4.3 grams of protein.
  • One standard-sized package of Twix (2 bars) provides 286 calories, 14 grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrate, 28 grams of sugar, and almost 3 grams of protein.
  • One standard-sized (2 oz) Butterfinger bar provides 275 calories, 11 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrate, 28 grams of sugar, and about 3 grams of protein.
  • One standard-sized (2 oz) Milky Way bar provides 264 calories, 10 grams of fat, 41 grams of carbohydrate, 35 grams of sugar, and 2.3 grams of protein.

Enjoying Candy in Moderation

While calories are one piece of the puzzle, periodically enjoying candy while maintaining an overall healthy diet isn't about the specific candy's calorie count as much as it is about your portion size. With that in mind, avoiding anything that is super-sized, "king-sized" or isn't individually wrapped can help keep your sweet treat in check so you can enjoy it in moderation.

For example, while one serving of the "medium calorie" candy options above come in under 200 calories, it can be easy to eat much more when dealing with small, individual pieces. And those tiny candy calories can add up quickly—especially when your sweet treat becomes a regular habit. If you find that you're tempted to eat more than one serving, purchase your candy of choice in a single-serving package or pre-portion your treat (and save or share the rest) so you know exactly how much you're consuming and can enjoy.

A Word From Verywell

Candy isn't necessarily all bad for you—food choices are rarely black and white. What candy lacks in nutritional value, it provides enjoyable sweetness, and most would agree that it can be one of life's small delights. But, as with most things, moderation is key. Enjoy a little bit of you favorite candy as a periodic sweet treat, rather than a regular part of your diet, to keep your healthy eating and wellness plan on track. 

23 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.