Everyday shopping: Crackers

Reviewed by our expert panel
Everyday shopping: Crackers

Nutritionist Rose Carr gives advice on healthy cracker options.

We tend to think crackers are healthy. But some crackers have as much fat, salt and kilojoules as your average potato chip. We found crackers with 25-30% fat, over 10% saturated fat and more than 1000mg sodium per 100g. Eat enough of those and you could harden your arteries, raise your blood pressure, and put on a few kilos in one fell swoop! But there are healthy crackers out there. Here’s what to look for.

The amount of fat in some crackers may shock you. Read the labels and for the healthiest snack, choose crackers with less than 1g saturated fat and less than 5g total fat. This will reduce the energy in them as well. If that’s too limiting for you or the family, try for less than 2g saturated fat and less than 10g total fat. Remember: less is better.

Look for crackers that provide fibre. Some crackers contain whole grains, which will add fibre, and others have an added source of fibre in the ingredients. Either way, more fibre will make for a more satisfying snack as well as being good for digestive health. Go for more than 5g per 100g, but even better, choose crackers with more than 10g fibre per 100g.

Added salt can make crackers tasty and ‘moreish’, but if you have high blood pressure or you need to reduce sodium in your diet, we recommend you look at the sodium content first and only choose crackers with less than 500mg sodium per 100g. For others, aim for less than 800mg sodium per 100g – this will give you a wider selection.

The higher-kilojoule crackers will generally be those with more fat. Most are not high in sugar. So if you’re checking the fat, the energy should look after itself.  A quick guide is to aim for less than 1800kJ per 100g. If you’re watching your weight, check the energy column first.

Don’t assume mini versions of crackers or biscuits have the same nutritional content as the original.

For example, Arnott’s Vita-Weat grain snacks are a different recipe to the larger crispbread, with less fibre and more salt. If you’re after an everyday cracker, the larger version has a better nutrition profile: even small differences are important for everyday foods. On the other hand, if it’s a treat food you’re after, and you think you could serve the mini crackers rather than potato chips or similar, then they are definitely a good alternative.

First published: Nov 2008

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