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Are Hershey's Kisses Bad For You?



Short answer

Hershey's Kisses can be enjoyed as a treat but should be eaten in moderation due to their high sugar and fat content. Overconsumption can lead to health issues like weight gain, chronic diseases, and dental problems. The presence of additives like soy lecithin and PGPR is generally safe but may be a concern for some people. Comparatively, they're similar to other chocolates in calories and sugar but with unique additives. Responsible portion control is key to including them in a balanced diet.



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Long answer

Composition and Caloric Content of Hershey's Kisses

Hershey's Kisses are one of America's most beloved chocolate treats, with a history that dates back to 1907. Their small, bite-sized form makes them a popular choice for a quick chocolate fix, but it's essential to understand their nutritional composition and caloric content to gauge their impact on your diet.

Firstly, it's important to note that the primary ingredients in Hershey's Kisses include sugar, milk, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, lecithin (an emulsifier), and natural flavor. A standard Hershey's Kiss is primarily made up of milk chocolate, which means it contains a significant amount of sugar and fat. The milk adds a source of dairy, which provides some nutritional benefits, such as calcium and protein, but the amounts are quite minimal given the small size of each individual Kiss.

The caloric content of Hershey's Kisses can add up quickly if consumed in large amounts. A single Hershey's Kiss contains approximately 22 calories, with the following approximate nutritional breakdown:

  • Total Fat: 1.3 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 1 milligram
  • Sodium: 3 milligrams
  • Total Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 grams
  • Total Sugars: 2.4 grams
  • Protein: 0.3 grams

Considering that a standard serving size is roughly 7 pieces, the caloric content can reach over 150 calories with around 16 grams of sugar. This is a non-negligible amount, especially for those monitoring their sugar intake due to health issues like diabetes or for those who are trying to manage their weight.

Many experts have expressed concerns about the high sugar content in milk chocolate candies. Research indicates that excessive sugar consumption can lead to a variety of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dental caries. The presence of saturated fat, although small in quantity per serving, can also contribute to high cholesterol levels if consumed excessively, according to a study published in the American Heart Journal.

It's worth noting that Hershey's also offers other varieties of Kisses, such as Dark Chocolate, Almonds, and Cookies 'n' Creme, each with a slightly different nutritional profile. For example, Dark Chocolate Kisses have less sugar and more antioxidants than their milk chocolate counterparts due to the higher cocoa content, as per the findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In summary, while Hershey's Kisses can fit into a balanced diet when consumed in moderation, being mindful of their caloric and sugar content is essential, especially for individuals with specific dietary needs or health goals. Enjoying these chocolates as an occasional treat rather than a daily indulgence can help mitigate their potential negative health aspects.

Sugar and Fat: A Closer Look into Hershey's Kisses Ingredients

The classic Hershey's Kisses, a staple chocolate treat, owe much of their appeal to two primary ingredients: sugar and fat. To truly understand the health implications of indulging in these candies, we must delve into the details of these components.

Sugar Content: The sweet taste of Hershey's Kisses comes from the high sugar content. According to the nutrition information provided by The Hershey Company, one serving of nine pieces contains about 22 grams of sugar. This amounts to over 5 teaspoons of sugar, which is a significant intake, especially considering the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Long-term intake of high-sugar foods can lead to a host of health issues beyond heart disease and diabetes. Studies indicate that diets high in added sugars can be associated with an increased risk of obesity, elevated blood pressure, and inflammation. It's also been found that high sugar consumption can have an addictive effect on the brain, leading to increased cravings and overeating.

Fat Composition: The fat found in Hershey's Kisses isn't just any fat; it's primarily composed of saturated fats. In a serving of nine pieces, there's about 8 grams of total fat, with about 5 grams being saturated fat. This type of fat is found in various foods and is known for contributing to the increase of "bad" LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream when consumed in excess. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it's advised to limit saturated fat to less than 10% of your daily calories.

Furthermore, the quality of fat in Hershey's Kisses is worth noting. While cocoa butter is a natural source of fat present in chocolate, some chocolate products also contain added vegetable oils, such as palm oil or shea oil. These oils can be processed in a way that might negatively affect health outcomes when consumed regularly over time.

When considering indulgence in Hershey's Kisses, the key is understanding the role of sugar and fat as part of your overall diet. Moderation is essential, as excessive consumption of these candies could contribute to the dietary imbalances that lead to health complications. Being mindful of your daily intake of added sugars and saturated fats, and aligning that with the occasional treat, rather than a frequent habit, helps maintain a balanced dietary approach.

Additives and Preservatives in Hershey's Kisses

In the realm of confectionery delights, Hershey's Kisses have stood as a popular chocolate treat for over a century. While their primary ingredients include chocolate, milk, and sugar, they also contain additives and preservatives to maintain texture, enhance flavor, and extend shelf life. Understanding what these are and how they may impact your health is crucial for informed consumption.

Let's delve into some of these common additives:

  • Soy Lecithin: An emulsifier derived from soybeans, soy lecithin is used to maintain the smooth texture of the chocolate. While generally considered safe, some studies suggest that large quantities can lead to gastrointestinal issues or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
  • PGPR (Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate): This ingredient is another emulsifier that has been introduced to replace some of the cocoa butter in chocolate products. It helps to achieve the desired viscosity. According to the FDA, PGPR is safe for consumption, but it's worth noting that it's a synthetic compound that some might prefer to avoid based on dietary principles.
  • Vanillin: An artificial flavor used to mimic the taste of vanilla, vanillin adds to the sensory experience of eating chocolate. Though it's generally recognized as safe, it doesn't possess the health benefits of natural vanilla, such as its antioxidant properties.

Preservatives are less common in simple chocolate items like Hershey's Kisses, as the high sugar content typically acts as a natural preservative. Nevertheless, it's always a good idea to check the label for any additional preservatives that might have been used in limited edition or specialty flavors.

It's important to remember that while additives and preservatives play a role in the manufacturing process, they should be consumed in moderation. For those with specific health conditions or dietary restrictions, it's particularly important to understand how these ingredients might interact with their health goals or restrictions.

For a comprehensive breakdown, here's a chart showcasing some common additives in Hershey's Kisses, their purpose, and potential health considerations:

Additive/Preservative Purpose Potential Health Considerations
Soy Lecithin Emulsifier Possible GI issues or allergies in sensitive individuals
PGPR Emulsifier Potential discomfort with synthetic substances, FDA approved
Vanillin Artificial flavor Lacks natural vanilla's health benefits, GRAS status

While the presence of additives and preservatives in Hershey's Kisses shouldn't be inherently alarming, it's always wise to consume these treats in moderation and be mindful of individual health needs and preferences. Keeping up-to-date on food science research will further empower your dietary choices.

Portion Control and the Risk of Overconsumption

When it comes to enjoyable treats like Hershey's Kisses, portion control is a key factor in determining whether they can fit into a balanced diet. Each individual Kiss contains approximately 22 calories, which includes about 2.5 grams of sugar and 1.3 grams of fat. While these numbers seem small, they can quickly add up, especially during mindless snacking or moments of indulgence.

The risk of overconsumption is significant due to the bite-sized nature of Hershey's Kisses. They are designed to be eaten in a single mouthful, which makes it easy to lose track of how many one has consumed. A standard serving size is usually considered to be four Kisses, amounting to just under 90 calories and around 10 grams of sugar.

Consuming too many Hershey's Kisses can lead to an intake of excess calories, eventually contributing to weight gain if not balanced with physical activity. Furthermore, high sugar intake is associated with a range of health issues, including tooth decay and an increased risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Key Points for Portion Control:

  • Be Mindful of Serving Size: Always check the packaging to understand the recommended serving size. Prepare or portion out your serving in advance to avoid overeating.
  • Track Your Intake: If you're enjoying Hershey's Kisses as part of a treat, tally up how many you eat to stay aware of your overall consumption.
  • Balance with Healthy Choices: Offset the intake of sweets by ensuring you eat nutrient-dense foods throughout the day, maintaining a well-rounded diet.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise can help balance calorie intake and can mitigate the impact of occasional indulgences.

Furthermore, psychological factors also play a role in the risk of overconsumption. The gratification received from eating chocolate can trigger the release of endorphins, creating a cycle that can lead to craving more of the same treat in short successions. To mitigate this, consider pairing a few Hershey's Kisses with a healthy habit like going for a walk, which can also provide a sense of well-being without the need for excess sugar.

A 2017 study published in the Appetite journal explored the link between portion size and consumption, finding that larger portion sizes can significantly increase food intake, even when not hungry. This underscores the importance of being particularly vigilant with treats like Hershey's Kisses, where the temptation to consume more may be subtly influenced by their availability and size.

Conclusively, while Hershey's Kisses can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation, it's crucial to practice portion control to minimize the risk of overconsumption and its related health consequences. Keeping track of portions and setting boundaries can help maintain a healthy relationship with these types of confectionary treats.

Comparative Analysis of Hershey's Kisses with Similar Chocolates

When considering whether Hershey's Kisses are bad for you, it's useful to compare them to other chocolates within the same category. This analysis will focus on various attributes such as calorie content, sugar levels, presence of additives, and overall nutritional value. The aim is to provide a clearer perspective on where Hershey's Kisses stand in relation to other similar chocolate treats.

Caloric Comparison:

Hershey's Kisses contain approximately 22 calories per individual piece. This is comparable to other popular chocolate brands of a similar size. For instance:

  • Milk Chocolate M&M's - Around 4 calories per piece
  • Dove Milk Chocolates - Approximately 44 calories per piece (though pieces are typically larger)
  • Godiva Milk Chocolate - Roughly 73 calories per piece for their individually wrapped chocolates, which are also larger

Sugar Content Analysis:

Sugar is a significant concern for many consumers, and Hershey's Kisses contain about 2.5 grams of sugar per piece. Compared to other chocolates, this amount is on the higher end for a similar serving size:

  • Milk Chocolate M&M's - Approximately 0.3 grams of sugar per piece
  • Dove Milk Chocolates - About 5 grams of sugar per piece (reflective of the larger piece size)
  • Godiva Milk Chocolate - Roughly 6.7 grams of sugar per piece (also larger in size)

Additives and Ingredients:

It's not just about calories and sugar; additives and ingredients play a crucial role in determining the health impact of a chocolate treat:

  • Hershey's Kisses typically contain added flavors, soy lecithin, and PGPR (an emulsifier), which can raise questions about their impact on health.
  • Other chocolates may contain different emulsifiers, like sunflower lecithin, or none at all, affecting those with soy sensitivities differently.
  • Some higher-end chocolates prioritize using fewer and more natural ingredients, potentially offering a slightly better health profile.

Nutritional Value:

Nutritional value is not only about what's potentially harmful but also about what's beneficial. Here's how Hershey's Kisses' nutritional content stacks up against similar chocolates:

Chocolate Calories Sugar (g) Fat (g) Fiber (g)
Hershey's Kisses 22 2.5 1.3 <0.1
Milk Chocolate M&M's 4 0.3 0.1 -
Dove Milk Chocolates 44 5 2.5 0
Godiva Milk Chocolate 73 6.7 4.5 0.5

Note that chocolates with higher cocoa content generally offer more nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants and fiber. However, Hershey's Kisses, like many milk chocolates, are lower in cocoa content compared to dark chocolates, which may provide less of these healthful compounds.

In summary, Hershey's Kisses are similar to other milk chocolate candies in terms of calorie and sugar content but include additives that are not present in all chocolate products. They offer modest nutritional benefits and should be consumed in moderation within a balanced diet. The key takeaway from this comparative analysis is that while Hershey's Kisses aren't uniquely disadvantageous, they share common drawbacks with other similar chocolate treats due to their high sugar content and presence of additives.

Frequently asked questions

Most plain Hershey's Kisses varieties, including the classic milk chocolate, are naturally gluten-free. However, some specialty flavors may contain additives or are processed in facilities that handle gluten, so it's always recommended to read the labels or contact the manufacturer for confirmation if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Hershey's Kisses are made with milk, which is an animal-derived ingredient, making them unsuitable for a vegan diet. Vegans should look for chocolate treats that are specifically labeled as vegan, which will not contain any animal products.

Hershey's Kisses contain milk, which means they have lactose. For those with lactose intolerance, consumption of these chocolates may cause digestive discomfort. It's advisable to opt for lactose-free chocolates or those made with dairy alternatives.

Hershey's Kisses have a high sugar content, with about 2.5 grams of sugar per piece. This can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels when consumed, which is particularly relevant for individuals with insulin resistance, prediabetes, or diabetes. It's important for these individuals to monitor their sugar intake and consider the glycemic impact of such treats on their overall blood sugar management.

Ask a question about Hershey's Kisses and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased calorie intake
  • raised blood sugar levels
  • potential gastrointestinal issues
  • possible allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • dental caries
  • increased blood pressure
  • chronic inflammation

Ingredients to be aware of


  • contains some calcium and protein
  • antioxidants in dark chocolate variety

Healthier alternatives

  • dark chocolate with higher cocoa content
  • chocolate with natural ingredients
  • treats with lower sugar content

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

LILY'S Dark Chocolate Chips

  • No sugar added
  • Ideal for baking
  • 9 oz convenient bags
  • Gluten-free option
  • Supports keto lifestyle
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-06-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 03-06-2024

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