Taste Test: Healthier Crackers

Have you perused the cracker aisle lately? In addition to the classic wheat crackers, you’ll find the shelves packed with crackers now made from legumes, nuts, grains, or seeds. But are these options really what they’re cracked up to be?

Healthy Eats

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Have you  browsed the cracker aisle lately? In addition to stocking the classic varieties, shelves are overflowing with versions made from whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. But are these options really what they're cracked up to be?
The Criteria

For this taste test, we chose the plain or original flavor crackers. Each was tasted alone, without any toppings or condiments. The crackers were rated on calories, fat, fiber and sodium, along with ingredients (including preservatives and additives), flavor, texture and cost. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being highest.

Rating: 5.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.44

Nutrition Info (per serving: 15 crackers): 120 calories; 3.5 grams total fat; 160 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber

The Healthy Eats Take: With plenty of crackers per serving (15!) and a respectable amount of fiber, these delicious crackers won't leave you hungry. The snacks have a hearty crunch and a well-rounded list of whole-grain ingredients, including millet, oats, hard red wheat, brown rice, barley, buckwheat and sesame seeds.

Rating: 4.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.59

Nutrition Info (per serving: 17 crackers): 130 calories;  2.5 grams total fat; 80 milligrams sodium; 1 gram fiber

The Healthy Eats Take: These thin and airy crackers, which are wheat-free and gluten-free, have a nice crunch and slight nutty flavor that isn't overwhelming. They have a far lower amount of sodium than any cracker in the bunch, not to mention a fairly short list of ingredients. That said, they also have the least amount of fiber, with only 1 gram per serving.

Rating: 4.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.50

Nutrition Info (per serving: 6 crackers): 120 calories; 3.5 grams total fat; 160 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber

The Healthy Eats Take: These classic whole-grain crackers have made an appearance in just about everyone's kitchen. Of all the crackers in the lineup, these have the lowest number of calories per serving. They also have a surprisingly short ingredient list, with just three components: whole-grain soft white wheat, soybean oil and sea salt. Although they taste pretty salty, they're in line with the amount of sodium in an average cracker. The price point, too, is right in the middle.

Rating: 3.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.89

Nutrition Info (per serving: 14 crackers): 120 calories; 3 grams total fat; 180 milligrams sodium; 2 grams fiber

The Healthy Eats Take: These thin crackers are made with lentil flour and have less fiber per serving than some of the other brands. They're certified gluten-free and also have the non-GMO verified seal. With 5 grams of protein per serving, they have more than other crackers in the group, but some of that protein comes from added whey as opposed to a natural source. These lentil crackers are also the most expensive in the round-up.

Rating: 3.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.23

Nutrition Info (per serving: 14 crackers):150 calories;  6 grams total fat; 200 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber

The Healthy Eats Take: Lighter on the palate, these crackers have a milder flavor more reminiscent of traditional crackers. While the crackers are a decent source of fiber, much of that fiber comes not from whole grains but the additive inulin. Although these were the least expensive of the bunch per ounce, they did have the highest number of calories.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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