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Are Graham Crackers Healthy?

Supermarket shelves are stacked high with an array of cookie and cracker varieties, many of which are filled with unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, saturated fat, and hydrogenated oils. If you're looking for a healthier dessert alternative, a graham cracker may sound like a desirable choice compared to other sugary and crunchy snacks.

But as with all snacks you bite into, it’s important to look at the ingredients and the amount of sugar in a product before purchasing it. To those wishing for a healthier alternative, a graham cracker may sound like a good option. But are they really a healthy snack choice or just another sugary cookie masquerading as something that's better for you?

What Are Graham Crackers?

Developed in the mid-1800s by a minister, graham crackers are an enduringly popular snack. Initially conceived as a "bland food" to help curb sexual urges, these cookies have evolved over the years to be popular with people of all age groups, especially kids.

In the past, manufacturers made these cookies with graham flour, which was a coarse whole-wheat flour. However, less expensive boxes of graham crackers sometimes contain more white flour than the fiber-rich whole-wheat variety, according to Truth in Advertising.

Unfortunately, this leads to a cookie with less fiber. Most modern-day graham crackers have one gram of fiber or less per serving. Despite this change, graham crackers remain a beloved snack, and there is the general perception that they’re healthier.

Drawbacks to Eating Graham Crackers

A downside to graham crackers is how they’re sweetened. The cookies you find in the average supermarket may be sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) a sweetener derived from corn starch. Manufacturers make high-fructose corn syrup by processing corn starch to produce glucose, and then converting the glucose to fructose.

HFCS is used extensively in the food industry and is in many processed and packaged foods. You also find fructose in some soft drinks and other beverages. The use of high fructose corn syrup in commercial graham crackers is a controversial practice, as some studies indicate that fructose may increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Still, manufacturers love it because it helps them cut costs.

However, all forms of sugar can cause weight gain and contribute indirectly to health problems like type 2 diabetes and obesity, so it’s best to reduce the total amount of sugar you eat, regardless of the form it comes in.

Be Picky With the Graham Crackers You Choose

If you experience an intense urge for a sweet snack, graham crackers have some advantages over other packaged cookies if you choose them wisely. To make the snack more nutritious, look for graham crackers made with whole-wheat flour instead of bleached flour, and opt for cookies with lower quantities of sugar.

You can find graham crackers made with whole-wheat flour and sweetened with natural sweeteners, like honey or unrefined sugar, at some health food stores and natural food markets. But remember, these sweeteners also cause blood sugar spikes.

If you're looking for the healthiest option, consider baking your own homemade graham crackers using 100% whole-wheat flour. This way, you can be sure that the ingredients are of the highest quality, and you can control the amount of sugar you bake into your cookies.

Select Your Graham Crackers With Health in Mind

Choose your graham crackers carefully, and this popular snack cookie can be a healthier alternative to conventional cookies but eat them only in moderation. As with any snack, moderation is key.

While graham crackers can help satisfy your sweet tooth but if you eat too many of them, you crowd other healthier foods out of your diet. Eating any cookie high in sugar reinforces sugar cravings and makes it harder to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.