Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Are See's Candies Bad For You?



Short answer

See's Candies, like many sweets, are high in sugars, calories, and often contain saturated fats and artificial additives. Consuming them in excess can contribute to a high intake of sugar and calories, potentially leading to weight gain, spikes in blood sugar, and health risks for individuals with certain conditions. While they can be enjoyed occasionally in moderation, frequent consumption is not advisable due to the potential negative health impacts.



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Long answer

Sugar Content and Caloric Density of See's Candies

Indulging in See's Candies is a treat that tempts many sweet tooths. However, understanding the sugar content and the overall caloric density of these confections is crucial for making informed dietary choices. The delectable range of chocolates and candies from See's are, like many other sweets, high in sugars and calories.

The composition of See's Candies varies widely depending on the type of candy. Classic chocolates, lollipops, and toffees are among the offerings, each with their own nutritional profile. Despite this variety, a common thread is the predominant presence of sugar as a key ingredient.

For example, a single piece of See’s chocolate from their assorted box can contain upwards of 8 to 10 grams of sugar, which is almost a third of the American Heart Association's recommended maximum of 25 grams of added sugars per day for women and roughly a quarter of the 36 grams for men. When considering the addictive quality of sugar and the ease with which one could consume several pieces in one sitting, it becomes clear that the consumption of See’s Candies can quickly lead to a high intake of sugar.

The caloric density of See's Candies is also a point of concern. Many of their chocolate pieces hover around 60 to 80 calories each, with some premium items reaching over 100 calories per piece. Given that snacking on chocolates can be an absent-minded habit, it is easy to inadvertently consume a few hundred extra calories, potentially offsetting the balance of energy in and out of our bodies, leading to weight gain over time if one isn't careful.

Let's look at a breakdown:

Candy Type Average Sugar Content (per piece) Average Calories (per piece)
Assorted Chocolates 8-10g 60-80
Lollipops 15g 70-80
Toffee 10-12g 80-100

With the recommended daily caloric intake for adults ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 calories, depending on age, sex, and level of physical activity, it's important to be mindful of the incorporation of these treats into one's diet.

It is important to note that some individuals may be more sensitive to the impact of sugar and excessive calorie consumption. For those with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or obesity, consuming high-sugar treats such as See's Candies can pose additional health risks. The rapid spike in blood glucose levels followed by a crash can lead to fluctuations in energy, mood swings, and hunger, along with longer-term health implications when indulged in regularly.

When enjoying See's Candies, consider them as an occasional indulgence rather than a regular part of your diet. Opt for sharing the box with friends or family to partake in moderation, while savoring the craftsmanship and tradition that make these candies unique.

Presence of Saturated Fats in Chocolate Treats

When indulging in the sweet luxury of chocolate, such as that found in See's Candies, it's important to consider not just the calories but also the types of fats present. A critical component of this conversation revolves around saturated fats, which are found in substantial quantities in most chocolate products.

Saturated fats are known to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood, which can lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The main source of saturated fats in chocolate is cocoa butter, and consequently, this applies to See's Candies as well.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a square of chocolate can contain several grams of saturated fat. Thus, consumers should be vigilant about their intake. Here's a breakdown of why saturated fats in chocolates like See's Candies could be a concern:

  • Impact on Cholesterol: Saturated fats can negatively influence cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Weight Gain: High in calories, saturated fats contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess, leading to obesity-related health issues.
  • Connection to Inflammation: Some studies suggest that saturated fats might promote inflammation in the body, although this area of research is still evolving.

However, it's not all bad news when it comes to fats in chocolate. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, also contains a type of fat called stearic acid. Unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid does not seem to raise cholesterol levels to the same extent. According to a study published in the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,' stearic acid was found to have a neutral impact on blood cholesterol. Hence, not all saturated fats behave the same way in our bodies.

One should also consider the portion size when enjoying See's Candies or similar chocolate treats. A small amount can fit into a balanced diet, while overconsumption can lead to the health concerns mentioned above. Moderation is the key.

Expert Advice: Dietitians often recommend paying close attention to the type of chocolate and the quantity consumed. Opting for dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content might be a better choice due to its lower saturated fat content compared to milk chocolate and the presence of potentially beneficial antioxidants.

In summary, while See's Candies and other chocolate treats indisputably contain saturated fats, understanding the nuances of how specific types of fats interact with your body can guide better dietary choices. If chocolate is a non-negotiable treat in your diet, it’s advisable to enjoy it mindfully, considering the potential impacts on your heart health and overall well-being.

Artificial Additives and Preservatives in Candy

When indulging in sweets like those from See's Candies, it's important to be informed about the artificial additives and preservatives they may contain. These substances are often added to extend shelf life, enhance color, and improve taste. However, their impact on health can vary, and it's worth examining closer.

Common Artificial Additives

Artificial additives are widespread in the candy industry. Some of the most frequently encountered in products like See's Candies include:

  • Artificial Colors: Chemical compounds such as Yellow #5 and Red #40 are used to make candies more visually appealing. While approved by the FDA, certain artificial colors have been linked to hyperactivity in children and other potential health concerns in sensitive individuals.
  • Artificial Flavors: These are chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors. Their safety is generally recognized by authorities, but they can cause allergic reactions or sensitivities in some people.

Preservatives and Their Functions

Preservatives are added to candy to prevent spoilage and maintain quality over time. Common preservatives in the candy industry include:

  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT): Antioxidants that prevent oils in candies from becoming rancid. The National Toxicology Program classifies BHA as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," although it remains FDA-approved.
  • Sorbic Acid and Potassium Sorbate: These are often used to inhibit the growth of mold and yeast. While considered safe, some people may experience allergic reactions such as skin rashes.

Regulatory Oversight and Consumer Concerns

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the use of additives and preservatives, setting acceptable daily intake levels. Although these substances are generally considered safe when consumed within the regulatory limits, consumer advocacy groups and some health professionals raise concerns over long-term exposure and the potential cumulative effects of consuming multiple additives across different foods.

Research Findings

Scientific research on artificial additives and preservatives reveals a mixed bag of results. Some studies suggest that certain additives may have minimal impact on health, while others indicate a potential link to adverse effects such as increased cancer risk or behavioral issues in children. For example, a study published in The Lancet demonstrated a possible association between certain mixtures of artificial food colors and increased hyperactivity in children.

Consumer Choices and Moderation

For consumers concerned with artificial additives and preservatives, the recommendation is to read labels carefully and opt for candies and sweets that use natural alternatives whenever possible. Also, practicing moderation in consuming these sweets can help limit exposure to these substances.

Alternatives to Artificial Additives

Certain brands have started replacing artificial additives with natural alternatives. Some commonly used natural ingredients include:

  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices: For natural coloring derived from sources like beets, carrots, and blueberries.
  • Spices and Extracts: Such as turmeric and paprika for color, and vanilla or almond extracts for flavor.
  • Natural Preservatives: Such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and tocopherols (vitamin E), which can help extend shelf life without synthetic chemicals.

Understanding the presence and potential impact of artificial additives and preservatives in candy is crucial for making informed dietary choices. Awareness and moderation are key to enjoying treats like See's Candies while taking care of one's overall health.

The Glycemic Impact of Sugar-Loaded Confections

Indulging in sweet confections like those offered by See's Candies is a treat for the senses, yet it's important to be aware of their impact on blood sugar levels. These treats are often loaded with sugars, which can cause rapid spikes in blood glucose. A glycemic response from consuming high-sugar confections can be of particular concern for individuals managing insulin resistance, diabetes, or those simply mindful of their sugar intake. Understanding the glycemic impact can help in making informed decisions about consumption frequency and portion sizes.

Firstly, the main ingredient contributing to the glycemic load in such sweets is sugar. See's Candies, similar to other candies, typically contain both naturally occurring sugars found in ingredients like chocolate and added sugars used to sweeten and enhance flavor. It's the added sugars, such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup, that are the main culprits behind the spike in postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar levels.

When sugar is consumed, it's quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood glucose levels. This necessitates the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that helps cells absorb the sugar for energy or storage. Simple sugars, with their high glycemic index, can lead to faster and higher surges in blood glucose, compared to complex carbohydrates which are processed more slowly.

It is also essential to note that different individuals may have varying glycemic responses to the same amount of sugar, which can depend on factors such as:

  • Overall health and metabolic state
  • Presence of diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • Physical activity levels
  • The balance of macronutrients in the meal

While occasional indulgence in See's Candies might not pose a significant health risk for a healthy individual, regular consumption can contribute to an overall higher glycemic load. This is associated with various health challenges including weight gain, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Certain studies demonstrate the impact of a high-glycemic diet on health. For instance, a publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high-glycemic-index diets may lead to an increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (Ludwig DS, 2002).

To sum up, enjoying See's Candies in moderation and being mindful of their high sugar content is important for maintaining a low glycemic dietary pattern. For those concerned with the glycemic impact, paying attention to portion sizes, and pairing these treats with lower glycemic index foods, which can blunt the blood sugar increase, can be helpful strategies.

Balance and Moderation: The Role of Candy in Diet

Candy, like those offered by See's Candies, is often associated with pleasure and celebration. However, from a nutritional standpoint, it's important to consider how these sweet treats fit into a balanced diet. The key to incorporating candy into your dietary regimen is moderation. While indulgence in small amounts is not likely to have a severe impact on overall health, habitual overconsumption can lead to various health issues such as weight gain, tooth decay, and an increased risk of chronic diseases.

Understanding the concept of 'empty calories' is crucial when discussing candy. Many candies are high in sugar and fats while offering little to no essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, or protein. This means they provide energy but minimal nutritional benefit. Given that See's Candies, like most confectionaries, are rich in sugars and fats, they should be considered an occasional treat rather than a dietary staple.

Here are some strategies to enjoy candies mindfully while minimizing negative health impacts:

  • Portion Control: Opt for the smallest size available, or divide larger portions into smaller, individually wrapped pieces to help resist the temptation to overindulge.
  • Special Occasions: Save candy consumption for special events or as a reward to limit the frequency of intake.
  • Alternative Sweets: When a sugar craving hits, consider fruit or dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content as healthier alternatives with added nutritional benefits.
  • Nutritional Balance: If you consume candy, ensure the rest of your daily diet is rich in nutrients, especially those from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Physical Activity: Maintain a regular exercise routine to help mitigate the effects of occasional high-sugar, high-calorie treats.

Experts recommend that added sugars should not exceed 10% of your total daily caloric intake. For a standard 2000-calorie diet, this translates to about 200 calories or roughly 50 grams of sugar per day. Considering that a single serving of some See's Candies can contain close to or more than this amount of sugar, this further emphasizes the importance of moderation.

Whether See's Candies are 'bad' for you is not a black-and-white matter. Like many pleasurable foods, the health implications are tied to the frequency and quantity of consumption. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that treats can fit into a healthy eating plan, but the focus should be on more nutrient-dense food choices to provide the body with the fuel it needs for optimum health.

Inclusion of candies like See's Candies in a diet is a personal choice and can be managed responsibly by following the aforementioned strategies. It's about balancing the desire for these sweet indulgences with the overarching goal of maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet.

Potential Allergens in See's Candies Products

For individuals with food allergies, navigating the sweet world of treats can be filled with challenges. See's Candies, although decadent in taste, are no exception when it comes to potential allergens. Understanding these allergens can help prevent adverse reactions and ensure a safe indulgence for those with specific dietary restrictions.

Dairy: A recurring ingredient in many See's Candies products is dairy. Items such as chocolate, creamy fillings, and some caramel variations often contain milk or milk-based products. Because dairy is a common allergen, those with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy should be cautious. It is important to read the ingredient list carefully or opt for dairy-free options when available.

Nuts: See's Candies offers a variety of nut-filled chocolates and treats that can trigger severe allergic reactions in individuals with tree nut or peanut allergies. The risk of cross-contamination is also a concern, as nuts are a prevalent ingredient in See's production facilities. Even products without nuts listed in the ingredients may still carry a warning related to potential trace amounts.

Soy: Soy lecithin is an emulsifier commonly used in chocolate and many confectioneries to maintain a smooth texture. Those with a soy allergy should be aware that soy is present in many of See's products and read labels for any mention of this ingredient.

Gluten: Wheat and gluten-containing ingredients may be found in certain candy bars, truffles, or chocolates with cookie or pretzel components. Individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should look for the specifically labeled gluten-free products that See's Candies may offer, but always verify the ingredients to avoid gluten exposure.

Eggs: Eggs can be found in some of See's specialty candies, particularly in seasonal or specialty products. Always double-check the ingredients, especially in decorated or filled items, as these are more likely to contain egg products.

Besides these common allergens, it's also worth noting that certain food dyes and artificial flavorings present in candies can cause reactions in sensitive individuals. As a responsible advocate of health and dietary safety, consider the following actionable steps for those with allergies interested in See's Candies:

  • Always check labels for allergen information before consuming.
  • Contact See's Candies directly for detailed product information if the labels are unclear.
  • If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, it might be safest to avoid these products altogether.
  • Opt for See's Candies products labeled as "Allergen-Free" if they are available and fit within your dietary restrictions.
  • Be mindful of potential cross-contamination risks, particularly for nut and gluten allergens.

Those with food allergies can still enjoy treats like See's Candies by staying informed and vigilant about the potential allergens these products may contain. It's essential to balance the enjoyment of these sweets with the need for safety and well-being.

Frequently asked questions

To find See's Candies options that are lower in saturated fat, you may want to opt for dark chocolate varieties as they generally contain less saturated fat compared to milk or white chocolate options. Check the nutritional information for specific products and look for those with higher cocoa content and no additional high-fat ingredients like caramel or cream fillings. Please be aware that even dark chocolate contains some level of saturated fat, so moderation remains crucial.

While See's Candies are high in sugar and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels, they can be consumed in moderation by individuals with diabetes as part of a balanced diet. It's essential to monitor portion size, choose candies with lower sugar content if available, and ideally enjoy them as part of a meal to reduce the glycemic response. Always consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian for personalized guidance on incorporating sweets into your diabetes meal plan.

To enjoy See's Candies while adhering to sugar intake recommendations, consider the following steps: First, be aware of the sugar content of each piece and plan your intake accordingly. Have one or two pieces as a treat, and ensure that the rest of your daily food intake is low in added sugars. Also, consider sharing your candies with others to keep portions in check. Lastly, make them an occasional treat rather than a daily habit to stay within the recommended guidelines for added sugars.

To avoid overconsumption of See's Candies, implement strategies such as setting a specific number of pieces you'll have beforehand, keeping the candies out of immediate reach to reduce temptation, and savoring each piece slowly to enhance satisfaction. In addition, balancing your consumption of sweets with physical activity can help manage calorie intake. Lastly, enjoy these treats in a mindful, present state to truly appreciate the taste and experience, which can prevent mindless overeating.

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

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood glucose levels
  • energy crashes
  • mood swings
  • potential allergic reactions
  • overindulgence leading to excess calorie consumption

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • potential increased cancer risk
  • increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • tooth decay
  • raised ldl cholesterol levels
  • possible association with behavioral issues in children
  • increased risk of chronic diseases

Ingredients to be aware of

  • high sugars and added sugars
  • saturated fats
  • artificial colors (e.g., yellow #5, red #40)
  • artificial flavors
  • preservatives (e.g., bha, bht, sorbic acid, potassium sorbate)
  • common allergens (e.g., dairy, nuts, soy, gluten, eggs)


  • pleasure and celebration in moderation
  • potential presence of beneficial antioxidants in dark chocolate

Healthier alternatives

  • fruit
  • dark chocolate with higher cocoa content
  • candies with natural coloring and flavoring alternatives
  • dairy-free options
  • nut-free products
  • gluten-free selections

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Lily's Dark Chocolate Chips

  • No added sugar
  • Low-carb, Keto-friendly
  • 55% cocoa content
  • Fair Trade certified
  • Gluten-free & Non-GMO
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-13-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-13-2024

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