Are Wheat Thins Healthy?
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of shopping the outskirts of the store, avoiding much of the processed foods that fill the aisles of what we call a grocery store. People often come to me asking random questions about food, and usually I like to give good thought before I provide an honest answer.
The other day, a question was sprung on me that I really couldn’t give a straight answer to: Are Wheat Thins healthy? Now, I’m no nutritionist, but I am an avid label-reader when it comes to buying any pre-packaged product. In all honesty, I’ve never, ever bought a box of Wheat Thins in my life!
So, in order to answer this question, during my next trip to the store, I decided to look at the label on their base cracker, the “original” flavor and the other base cracker, “100% whole grain.”
The Nutrition Label
The label is catchy and really pops out amongst the other crackers, in it’s bright yellow box and cleverly named “Wheat Thins.” Sounds healthy, right? We are always taught that wheat is good for us and “Thins” gives the impression that it’s a light and healthy choice for a snack.
Remembering the question that brought me down that aisle, “Are Wheat Thins healthy?” I turned the box to take a peek at the nutrition label and ingredients list, and this is what I found:
Both boxes had a serving size of just 16 crackers, seems pretty harmless given you stick with the serving size.
Both had 140 calories per serving, also quite minimal, while the whole grain ones had 1g more from fat.
When I got down to to the sodium and carbohydrates content, that’s when it started to not look so good to me, and only got worse as I got to the ingredients.
While the box of original has a high sodium content per serving (remember, just 16 crackers) of 230mg, the whole grain ones have an even higher content of 280mg! Considering the daily recommended sodium intake is 1500mg, this small snack takes up a pretty good portion of that.
Carbs: Complex carbs are the best kind for you, and you usually determine a ballpark estimate of complex carbs by subtracting the grams of sugar from the total carbohydrate content listed on the label, so it appears these check out ok: The original has 22g of carbs with 4g being from sugars, and the whole grain contains 21g of carbs with only 3g being from sugars.
The Ingredients List
Now as far as ingredients go, I was most disappointed knowing about the use of Genetically Modified (GM) ingredients in these crackers.
At a first glance, both labels lead off with whole grain wheat flour which sounds good, but may or may not be a modified ingredient. Knowing that Kraft Foods is one of the companies who paid big bucks to fight GMO labeling in California back in 2012, I would err on the side of assuming modified ingredients.
Then, I went on to see Soybean Oil on both labels and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) on the whole grain label, so that was enough of the ingredients.
What put the icing on the cake was the preservative used listed just below the ingredients, BHT, or Butylated Hydroxytoluene.
Although not uncommon to be used as a preservative in packaging of processed foods, it’s anything but good for your health! They have been known to cause issues with kidney function, liver function, and behavioral abnormalities in children. Sound delicious?
Crackers to Try Instead
So are Wheat Thins healthy? Well, it all depends on who you ask!
I, for one, am against the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in our food supply and feel that use of such ingredients should be conspicuously labeled somewhere on the box. Some people are all for the use of GMOs and feel there’s not a thing to be worried about. I say there’s better crackers out there:
Back To Nature Organic Stoneground Wheat Crackers: The serving size is half that of Wheat Thins, but even doubling the serving size to be equal, the nutrition is much better. 2g of sugar per 2 servings with 22g of total carbs. All organic ingredients, no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. The calories and sodium content are about the same when you double the serving size, but serving sizes are in place for a reason!
Mary’s Gone Crackers Original: Another good, organic cracker, you can be certain you are consuming a cracker that contains no harmful ingredients, and certainly no GMOs. With a whole grain brown rice base, these crackers have about the same calories, less sodium, and a healthier carb content.
Kashi TLC Original 7 Grain: Free of refined sweeteners, artificial ingredients, and hydrogenated oils, this is not a bad cracker choice. With a serving size pretty equal to Wheat Thins, there’s fewer calories and lower sodium. The Carb content is just about the same, but the ingredients list is a bit more pleasant.
Taking a walk down the cracker aisle can be a bit overwhelming, but simply seek out organic brands or just take the time to read labels and you are on your way to finding a truly healthy cracker to enjoy!