Health Watch -- Filling the Easter Basket

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Sometimes even the Easter Bunny may need a little advice on filling baskets.

Does the Easter bunny who serves your family keep up with nutrition and health information? Just in case, here are some tips from experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Chocolate bunnies and eggs are popular Easter treats that may be better for you than you think. Lona Sandon, a dietitian and nutrition instructor at UT Southwestern, says the cocoa bean has antioxidant properties that can be good for you, and cocoa butter has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. But adding milk and sugar to create milk chocolate increases the fat and calorie content.

Dark chocolate is lower in calories and higher in antioxidants, but all chocolate should be considered a treat to enjoy occasionally in moderation. A chocolate bunny - milk or dark - at Easter isn't anything to worry about.

Something else to think about when filling an Easter basket is peanut allergies, especially if you're providing treats for children outside your family. Many popular candies include peanuts or peanut byproducts. Even non-peanut candies made in the same plants as candy containing peanuts may contain peanut residue.

Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, a UT Southwestern allergist, says it's important to read the label. For safety, choose hard candies or treats from known manufacturers that don't contain warnings about peanuts or peanut byproducts.


April 2004