Stuffing your face with crackers is never a good idea, but it can be hard to resist if your children's snacks are always lying around begging to be eaten. Though they taste yummy, eating too many crackers can leave you bloated and uncomfortable, and it can also have a negative effect on your health. Certain ingredients, such as trans fat and sodium, in some types of crackers aren't good for you and most versions don't supply large amounts of many vitamins or minerals.
1. Calories and Fat
A 1-ounce serving of cheese-flavored crackers contains 138 calories and 6.5 grams of fat, of which 1.5 grams are saturated. One ounce of saltine-type crackers has 120 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, of which 0.5 gram is saturated. An ounce of whole-wheat crackers contains 122 calories and 4 grams of fat, of which 0.6 gram is saturated. Saturated fat contributes to an increased risk of heart disease. Trans fats, which many crackers contain, are worse. These fats make crackers taste better, but they also increase your risk of heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Many kinds of crackers contain added sodium to prolong their shelf life and make them taste better. Sodium certainly accomplishes these two goals, but it also decreases the nutritional value of your crackers. An ounce of cheese crackers contains 276 milligrams of sodium, which is 12 percent of the 2,300-milligram limit recommended to protect your health, according to MayoClinic.com. An ounce of saltine-type crackers has 290 milligrams of sodium, and an ounce of whole-wheat crackers contains 200 milligrams. Monitoring your sodium intake is a smart way to protect the health of your heart and kidneys and to keep your blood pressure normal.
3. Beneficial Nutrients
Though eating too many crackers will cause you to take in unhealthy amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, you also get a few nutrients. An ounce of cheese crackers supplies 68 micrograms of folate, which is 17 percent of the 400 micrograms women need each day and 11 percent of the 600 micrograms you need during pregnancy. Folate helps prevent certain birth defects and promotes proper brain function. An ounce of whole-wheat crackers delivers 3 grams of fiber. That's 12 percent of the 25 grams of fiber you should have each day to keep your digestive system working well and to reduce your risk of heart disease.
4. Tips and Considerations
While a few crackers here and there can be part of your healthy eating plan, don't go overboard by eating more than one serving at a time or you'll also be consuming large doses of saturated fat and sodium, and possibly trans fat. When you do have crackers, read the nutrition labels carefully. Skip crackers that list partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list. Look for reduced-fat crackers to cut your saturated fat intake and low-sodium versions to reduce your intake of sodium. Add nutritious ingredients to your crackers to help improve their nutritional value. Spread crackers with peanut butter and top with banana slices or melt low-fat cheese on top for a dose of calcium. Layer crackers with fresh fruits or vegetables as another way to get more nutrients from your snack.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Crackers, Cheese, Regular
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Crackers, Saltines
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Crackers, Whole-Wheat
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- Harvard School of Public Health: Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fat
- MayoClinic.com: Sodium: How to Tame Your Salt Habit
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
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