Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Hot Tamales Bad For You?



Short answer

Regularly consuming Hot Tamales candy can be bad for your health due to high sugar content which may lead to weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, dental issues, and potential metabolic disorders. They contain artificial dyes, which might cause hypersensitivity or behavioral changes in children. While moderate consumption is less likely to cause harm, frequent intake of such high-sugar and artificially colored candies should be approached with caution to avoid negative health impacts.



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Long answer

Sugar Content and Its Impact on Health in Hot Tamales Candy

Understanding the sugar content in Hot Tamales Candy is essential when evaluating its impact on one's health. Hot Tamales are classically known for their chewy texture and fiery cinnamon kick. While part of their appeal is the sweet, piquant flavor, it is this very sweetness that necessitates a closer inspection for health-conscious consumers.

Most variants of Hot Tamales contain a significant amount of sugar, with a single serving yielding approximately 22 grams. To put this into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that men limit their intake of added sugars to 36 grams and women to 25 grams per day. Consuming just one package of Hot Tamales could nearly meet or exceed the daily recommended limit of sugar for some individuals.

The repercussions of high sugar consumption are well-documented. Numerous studies have linked excessive sugar intake to a variety of health concerns. Some of these include:

  • Weight Gain: Sugars contribute to calorie intake without offering nutrient density, potentially leading to an energy imbalance and weight gain.
  • Increased Risk of Heart Disease: Research has shown that diets high in added sugars may increase triglycerides, leading to elevated heart disease risk.
  • Metabolic Issues: High sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  • Dental Health: Sugars are fermented by bacteria in the mouth, causing acid production that leads to tooth decay.

While the occasional treat is unlikely to cause major health issues for most, it becomes problematic when sweets with a high sugar content, like Hot Tamales, become a regular part of the diet. Mindful moderation is essential in maintaining a balanced diet while still enjoying foods like Hot Tamales.

For those with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, or those actively managing their weight, it's especially important to consider the sugar content in these candies. Even for otherwise healthy individuals, being aware of hidden sugars in seemingly small treats is a key part of a responsible dietary approach.

To sum up, the high sugar content in Hot Tamales Candy can have a significant impact on one's overall health, especially when consumed in quantity or with frequency. Knowing the potential health risks associated with sugar allows consumers to make informed decisions that align with their nutritional goals and well-being.

Artificial Dyes in Hot Tamales: Possible Health Effects

Hot Tamales, the fiery cinnamon-flavored candy, is well-known for its bright red appearance. This visual appeal is largely due to the use of artificial dyes. However, the impact of these color additives on health is an area of concern for many consumers and health professionals alike. Let's delve into the main artificial dyes used in Hot Tamales and discuss their possible health effects.

Common Artificial Dyes in Hot Tamales

  • Red 40 (also known as Allura Red AC): Widely used in candies, beverages, and processed foods. It is derived from petroleum products.
  • Yellow 5 (Tartrazine): Another synthetic dye found in numerous food products that can impart various shades when mixed with other colors.
  • Yellow 6 (Sunset Yellow): Often used in tandem with other dyes to produce different color profiles in food items.

Potential Health Concerns

  • Hypersensitivity Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to artificial dyes, including skin rashes, itching, or hives.
  • Behavioral Effects in Children: There is ongoing debate about whether artificial dyes contribute to hyperactivity in children. A meta-analysis by the journal Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests a potential link, but the evidence is not conclusive, necessitating more research.
  • Cancer Risk: Studies on artificial dyes and cancer risk in humans are limited and often contradictory. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has reported concerns over certain dyes based on animal studies, but there is no conclusive evidence that artificial dyes cause cancer in humans.
  • Impact on Metabolism: Research is currently exploring the effects of artificial dyes on metabolism, including potential links to obesity and diabetes. However, results are still inconclusive, and more long-term studies in humans are needed to understand these effects.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these dyes for consumption, they continue to monitor the scientific literature for any new findings regarding their safety. In Europe, foods containing certain artificial dyes come with a warning label indicating that these may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children - a policy not currently mirrored in the US.

It's important for consumers to be aware of these potential health effects and to make informed choices about the products they consume. For some, especially those with sensitivities or concerns for their children's dietary consumption, the presence of artificial dyes may be a decisive factor in avoiding products like Hot Tamales candy.

Serving Size and Caloric Density of Hot Tamales

When assessing the impact of Hot Tamales candy on your health, understanding the serving size and caloric density is crucial. Hot Tamales typically come in a box, with the standard serving size being listed as a small handful or approximately 14 pieces of candy. This serving size would generally yield around 150 calories, depending on the specific product formulation. Calories in candy are primarily derived from carbohydrates, specifically from sugars, which are simple carbohydrates offering quick energy but little nutritional value.

Here's a breakdown of what to expect in a single serving (14 pieces) of Hot Tamales candy:

  • Total Calories: Approximately 150
  • Carbohydrates: Roughly 37 grams, predominantly from sugar
  • Sugars: About 27 grams, which includes both natural and added sugars
  • Total Fat: 0 grams, as Hot Tamales are fat-free
  • Protein: 0 grams, indicating no protein contribution to your diet

The caloric density refers to the number of calories present per weight of food. Given the high sugar content and absence of protein and fat, Hot Tamales have a high caloric density from sugars. This is something to consider for those monitoring caloric intake or managing blood sugar levels.

It's also worth noting that the American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women. A single serving of Hot Tamales already fulfills a large portion of this recommendation. Overconsumption, therefore, can easily lead to an excessive intake of sugar, which is associated with various health risks, including weight gain and increased risk of heart disease.

For those mindful of their caloric and sugar intake, it's essential to pay attention to the serving size of Hot Tamales. Eating more than the recommended serving size can lead to a significant increase in calorie consumption, primarily through added sugars, which provides a burst of energy followed by a quick drop, often referred to as a "sugar crash".

Nutrient Amount per Serving (14 pieces)
Calories ~150
Carbohydrates ~37g
Sugars ~27g
Total Fat 0g
Protein 0g

While Hot Tamales can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, it is essential to be vigilant about the amounts consumed. Individual dietary needs and health goals, such as weight management, controlling blood sugar levels, or maintaining heart health, play a pivotal role in determining if Hot Tamales fit into your dietary pattern.

Dental Health Concerns with Chewy Candies

Chewy candies, such as Hot Tamales, present several concerns when it comes to dental health. The texture and high sugar content can both contribute to the development of cavities and other dental problems. Let’s explore the specific issues related to dental health that arise from consuming chewy candies like Hot Tamales.

Sticky Texture:

  • Chewy candies tend to be very sticky, which allows them to adhere to teeth longer than other types of sweets. This prolonged contact can increase the risk of tooth decay as it gives bacteria more time to feed on the sugars and produce harmful acids.
  • The stickiness can also lead to the pulling of dental restorations such as fillings or crowns, potentially leading to costly dental repairs.

Sugar Content:

  • Hot Tamales, like most chewy candies, are high in sugar. Sugar is a primary food source for oral bacteria that produce acid as a byproduct. This acid can erode tooth enamel, paving the way for cavities.
  • A study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry found a strong correlation between sugar intake and the prevalence of cavities, emphasizing the need to moderate consumption of sugary snacks.


  • Aside from sugar, some chewy candies can be acidic. This acidity can contribute to enamel erosion, weakening the teeth and making them more susceptible to decay.
  • While Hot Tamales are not known for their acidity, it’s important to be aware that many flavored candies contain citric acid or other acidic additives that compound the risk for enamel erosion.

Effects on Braces:

  • For individuals with braces, chewy candies are particularly troublesome. They can get stuck in the brackets and wires, leading to an increased risk of plaque buildup and making it difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene.
  • Orthodontists typically advise against the consumption of chewy candies as they can cause direct damage to the orthodontic appliances themselves.

Managing Risks:

  • To minimize dental health risks associated with chewy candies, it’s advised to consume them in moderation and to practice good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing regularly, especially after indulging in sweet treats.
  • Drinking water or rinsing the mouth after eating chewy candies can help wash away some of the sugars and acids that lead to tooth decay.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum can help to increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to cleanse the mouth of food particles and neutralize acids produced by bacteria.

It’s essential to be aware of these concerns when making dietary choices, especially for those with pre-existing dental issues or who are prone to cavities. Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are vital in maintaining dental health and should be a part of everyone's healthcare routine.

Frequency of Consumption and Potential Health Complications

Understanding the relationship between how often one indulges in Hot Tamales candy and the potential health implications is crucial for maintaining a balanced diet. While occasional treats can fit into a healthy lifestyle, frequent consumption of sugary candies like Hot Tamales can lead to a series of health complications.

Dental Health Concerns: Candies with a high sugar content, such as Hot Tamales, contribute to tooth decay and dental caries. The American Dental Association recommends minimizing the intake of sticky and chewy sweets that linger on teeth surfaces, which can increase the risk of dental issues.

Weight Gain and Obesity: Regular consumption of calorie-dense foods with little nutritional value can contribute to weight gain. Hot Tamales, like other candies, are rich in sugars and calories, which can add up quickly and increase the risk of obesity if not balanced with physical activity, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Blood Sugar Spikes: The high sugar content in Hot Tamales can cause rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. For individuals with insulin resistance, diabetes, or other metabolic conditions, it is especially important to monitor sugar intake and maintain stable blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association provides guidelines for sugar consumption that discourage frequent candy consumption.

Added Ingredients and Health Risks: Besides sugar, Hot Tamales contain additives such as artificial colors and flavors, which some studies suggest may have adverse health effects when consumed in excess. For example, a review in "Food and Chemical Toxicology" raised concerns about the potential impacts of artificial food dyes.

  • Artificial Color Red 40: Linked to hyperactivity in some children
  • Artificial Flavorings: May cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals

Recommendations for Safe Consumption: While Hot Tamales can be enjoyed in moderation, the frequency of consumption should be limited. Nutritionists generally advise treating candies as occasional treats rather than dietary staples, aligning with the dietary guidelines for Americans, which emphasize the importance of limiting added sugars.

Recognizing the cumulative effect of regularly eating sugary candies is essential. For those with underlying health conditions or concerns about sugar intake, consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice is a good practice. Making informed choices helps manage the potential health risks associated with frequent consumption of sweets like Hot Tamales.

Frequently asked questions

Hot Tamales candy is essentially devoid of any significant nutritional benefits. While it provides a quick source of energy due to its high sugar content, it lacks essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. For those seeking nutritious snack options, fruits, nuts, or whole-grain snacks are recommended over candies like Hot Tamales.

Hot Tamales can fit into a weight management diet if consumed in moderation and accounted for within one's daily caloric allowance. However, due to their high sugar content and lack of nutritional value, they should be consumed sparingly and not replace nutrient-dense foods that are more conducive to a healthy weight management plan.

To reduce the risk of dental problems from eating Hot Tamales, it's crucial to practice good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, especially after consuming these candies. Additionally, rinsing the mouth with water after eating can help remove some of the sticky residue and sugars, and chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva production, aiding in the neutralization of harmful acids.

While artificial dyes like Red 40 found in Hot Tamales are approved by the FDA, some research suggests potential links to hyperactivity in children. It is advisable for parents to monitor their children's consumption of artificially colored candies and consider their overall dietary pattern, opting for natural and less processed snack alternatives when possible.

Ask a question about Hot Tamales and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased energy
  • sugar crash
  • hypersensitivity reactions
  • tooth discomfort
  • potential hyperactivity in children
  • dental restorations pulling

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • elevated heart disease risk
  • insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • tooth decay and dental caries
  • possible metabolic effects
  • increased obesity risk
  • blood sugar spikes

Ingredients to be aware of

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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-17-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-17-2024

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