Is there a more festive treat than a candy cane?
With its cheery red and white swirls, these sweet, minty-cold candies are ubiquitous during the holiday season.
Striped and sugary, they range from tiny morsels to oversized novelties – and beyond the traditional mint flavor, candy canes now come in flavors like eggnog, strawberry and even pumpkin spice.
But have you ever stopped to wonder about the nutritional value of a candy cane?
Candy cane ingredients
Here’s the truth, which may or may not surprise you: Candy canes don’t offer much in terms of nutrition.
“They’re mostly made up of refined carbohydrates and sugar, including fructose,” says Brocha Soloff, BS, RD, CDN, founder of iHeart Health.
A typical candy cane ingredient list is usually short and sweet, with emphasis sweet: Added sugar, corn syrup, natural flavors, and colors like red 40, yellow 5, blue 1.
Some brands list real peppermint among the ingredients: FSG cane lists sugar, glucose syrup, water, citric acid, peppermint oil, titanium dioxide (for color), and artificial colors (red 40, red 3, yellow 5, blue 1).
Nutritional value of candy cane
The nutritional value of a candy cane depends on the size.
A mini candy cane weighs about 4 grams. A regular size weighs about 28 grams.
(Exact nutritional values will vary by brand due to weight differences.)
An example of a regular candy cane contains 50 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of sugar. However, we only saw serving sizes half A candy cane
If you compare candy canes to other seasonal foods, they’re denser in calories, says Solf.
Candy, which contains mostly sugar, has fewer calories than sweets like chocolate, contains fat and a small amount of protein.
For example, one serving of Chocolate Kisses contains 140 calories, including eight grams of fat, two grams of protein, and 16 grams of carbohydrates.
“That being said, carbs are important too, and while candy has fewer calories than chocolate, it’s higher in carbs and sugar,” Solf says.
Without protein and fat to provide satiety and mouthfeel, a candy cane or other sugar-based dessert “may be less satisfying than chocolate and easier to overeat,” she says.
On the plus side, the strong, breath-freshening flavor of traditional candy canes can make it hard to “overdo” them, adds Solf.
In theory, he says, research suggests that peppermint may be associated with some health benefits such as indigestion, nausea and other digestive issues, so a candy cane might sound more appealing to you after a big holiday feast.
“That being said, I would recommend other sources of peppermint instead of candy,” she says.