10 Healthy Alternatives to M&M’s

Explore why we crave M&M’s, their impact on health, our 10 best substitutes for this candy, and a homemade M&M recipe that’s a touch healthier!

In this article

Why People Crave M&M’s

M&M’s captivate our senses with a combination of rich chocolate, a colorful candy shell, and a satisfying texture that releases a burst of sweetness upon consumption. The high sugar content in M&M’s triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, which can lead to cravings. The fats present in chocolate engage the brain’s reward system similarly and contribute to the creamy mouthfeel that many find irresistible.

The bright colors of M&M’s also play a psychological role, appealing to our innate preference for vibrant, varied hues, which in ancestral times were indicators of nutrient-rich, ripe fruits. This visual stimulation can enhance the anticipation of the treat, making it more desirable.

The sweet flavor, combined with the olfactory experience, creates a multisensory enjoyment. The sugar and fats in M&M’s not only activate taste buds but also stimulate the nasal smell receptors, enhancing the overall flavor perception. The combination of these factors can make finding a suitable M&M’s substitute challenging for those seeking healthier alternatives to M&M’s.

Understanding the complex interplay between M&M’s ingredients and our body’s response can help in identifying potential M&M’s replacements that satisfy cravings without compromising health. It’s a challenging journey to overcome these cravings, but with the right M&M’s alternative, it is certainly a feasible one.

10 Healthy Alternatives to M&M’s

Dark chocolate-covered almonds
These offer a satisfying crunch and chocolate flavor while being rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. They contain less sugar than M&M’s and provide a good source of protein and fiber.

Homemade trail mix with cacao nibs
Mixing cacao nibs with nuts and seeds can give you a sweet, chocolatey taste along with added nutrients. Cacao nibs are lower in sugar and calories and high in fiber compared to M&M’s.

Greek yogurt with mixed berries
A bowl of Greek yogurt with berries can satisfy your sweet tooth and is high in protein. The natural sugars in berries are a healthier alternative to the high-fructose corn syrup in M&M’s.

Freeze-dried fruit
This snack retains the sweetness and vibrant colors you might crave, without artificial dyes or added sugars. Freeze-dried fruits are also rich in vitamins and fiber.

Roasted chickpeas with cinnamon
Chickpeas can be roasted with a touch of cinnamon to create a sweet and crunchy snack. They are high in protein and fiber, making them a more filling and nutritious option.

Unsweetened dried coconut flakes
These can offer a chewy texture and natural sweetness, along with healthy fats. They are a lower-calorie option with no added sugars or artificial colors.

Carrot sticks with almond butter
The natural sweetness of carrots paired with the creamy richness of almond butter provides a satisfying snack that’s high in vitamins and healthy fats.

Baked apple chips
Thinly sliced and baked apples can become a sweet, crispy treat. They are free from artificial colors and provide a source of fiber and natural sugars.

Pumpkin seeds with a touch of honey
Lightly coating pumpkin seeds with honey and baking them offers a sweet and crunchy alternative. They are high in protein, magnesium, and healthy fats.

Rice cakes with a thin layer of dark chocolate spread
This combination provides a crunchy texture with a chocolate flavor, minus the excess sugar and calories. Dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants.

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Are M&M’s Addictive?

The irresistible pull of M&M’s often leads to the question of addiction. While not addictive in the clinical sense, the high sugar and fat content can create a cycle of cravings and temporary pleasure, akin to addiction. The brain’s reward system is activated when we consume these treats, releasing dopamine and reinforcing the desire for more.

This cycle can be particularly challenging to break, especially without a satisfying M&M’s substitute. The quest for a healthy alternative to M&M’s is not just about nutrition; it’s about breaking free from the grip of sugar’s seductive power.

Do M&M’s Cause Weight Gain?

It’s a common concern that indulging in M&M’s can lead to unwanted pounds. The reality is that M&M’s, like any high-calorie food, can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. Their small size can deceive us into eating more than intended, and their high sugar content can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash that leaves us craving more.

Moderation is key, and for those looking to indulge without the guilt, finding a healthy alternative for M&M’s can be a game-changer.

Can M&M’s Be Part of a Healthy Diet?

Many wonder if there’s room for M&M’s in a balanced diet. The truth is, while M&M’s are not inherently unhealthy, they should be consumed in moderation. They lack essential nutrients and are high in sugar and calories.

For those seeking to maintain a healthy lifestyle, incorporating an M&M’s alternative that satisfies the sweet tooth without derailing dietary goals can be a wise move. It’s about finding balance and making room for occasional treats while prioritizing nutritious choices.

Are the Colors in M&M’s Harmful?

The vibrant colors of M&M’s are a visual feast, but they also raise questions about the safety of artificial dyes. While the FDA has approved these dyes for consumption, some studies suggest a potential link between artificial colors and behavioral issues in children.

For those concerned about these additives, seeking an M&M’s replacement that uses natural coloring can provide peace of mind while still enjoying a colorful treat.

Is There a Real M&M’s Substitute?

For those looking to swap out M&M’s for a healthier option, the question arises: Is there a true M&M’s substitute that can match the original’s appeal? The market offers various alternatives that aim to mimic the chocolatey crunch without the high sugar content.

However, finding an M&M’s alternative that truly satisfies can be a journey of trial and error. It’s about discovering a new favorite that aligns with health goals without compromising on the joy of indulgence.

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Homemade Healthy Chocolate Buttons


This healthy recipe for M&M’s creates a delightful treat that mimics the chocolatey goodness of traditional M&M’s, but with a healthier twist. These homemade chocolate buttons are sweetened with natural sweeteners and colored with natural food dyes, offering a guilt-free indulgence.

Prep Time

15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours (includes cooling time)
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • Double boiler
  • Silicone candy mold
  • Food processor
  • Mixing bowls


  • 1 cup dark chocolate (70% or higher)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • Natural food coloring (red, yellow, blue, green)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (for coating)


  1. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring until smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the honey or maple syrup until well combined.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the silicone candy mold, filling each cavity about 3/4 full.
  4. Place the mold in the refrigerator and allow the chocolate to set for about 1 hour.
  5. While the chocolate is setting, divide the powdered sugar into four bowls. Add a few drops of natural food coloring to each bowl and mix until the sugar is evenly colored.
  6. Once the chocolate is set, remove from the refrigerator. Pop the chocolate buttons out of the mold.
  7. Roll each chocolate button in the colored sugar until fully coated.
  8. Allow the coated chocolate buttons to set in the refrigerator for another hour before serving. Enjoy your homemade, healthier M&M’s!

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