Are graham crackers healthy? Nutrition, Advantages, Disadvantages

Graham crackers probably conjure up memories of campfires and s’mores — or simple, easy snacks you could give to the kids in your life.

It’s a sweet and crunchy snack loved by kids and adults alike, sure, but you might be wondering if it’s a healthy choice.

This article breaks down the nutritional value of graham crackers and examines whether they’re a good snack for heart health, diabetes concerns, and children’s eating habits.

Graham crackers are made from enriched wheat flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, canola or palm oil, a raising agent like baking soda, and salt.

Depending on the brand, graham crackers may contain other ingredients like molasses, honey, cinnamon, chocolate, or soy lecithin.

Graham crackers are not gluten free since they are made from wheat flour. However, graham crackers are vegan unless they contain honey. Some vegans eat honey and some don’t.

About one ounce (28 grams) or graham crackers — about two whole-grain cracker sheets — contains (1):

  • calories: 122
  • Total fat: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 22 grams
  • Fiber:
  • Sugar: 7 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 146mg
  • Magnesium: 9% recommended daily value (DV)
  • Selenium: 11% DV
  • Niacin: 27% DV

Exact amounts of nutrients, including fiber, may vary depending on brand and whole grain content.

In general, however, graham crackers are relatively low in calories, but since they’re mostly carbs, they’re also low in fat, fiber, and protein.

Graham crackers are cholesterol free and contain a moderate amount of sodium.

However, their added sugar content is a bit high, which means they are probably not ideal for a regular snack in large quantities.

Although graham crackers contain whole wheat (meaning whole grains) flour, they offer less than one gram of fiber per serving.

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), children ages 2 to 18 should consume 14 to 31 grams of fiber per day, depending on their age (2).

In addition to being low in fiber, a serving of graham crackers provides 6 to 8 grams of added sugar, depending on the brand.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises children under 2 years old not to avoid added sugar, and added sugar levels should be kept below 25 grams per day for older children (3).

Like most commercial snack foods, graham crackers are suitable in moderation for toddlers and children.

To make them healthier, add fruit alongside to increase fiber and spread nut butter on top for healthy fats and proteins. Peanut Butter Raisin Graham Crackers are a fan favorite among many kids.

Foods high in fiber and low in sugar are the healthiest for your heart, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy graham crackers. Just be aware of the number of added sugars in your overall diet.

Two whole sheets of graham crackers contain about 7 grams of added sugar, or about one-third of the recommended daily value (DV) for women.

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day and that men consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day (4).

To best support a healthy heart, enjoy graham crackers in moderation and pair them with foods high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats like fruits, nut butters, and Greek yogurt.

People with diabetes can definitely benefit from graham crackers, keeping in mind that one serving contains about 22 grams of total carbs and 6-8 grams of total sugar. Stick to one serving for a snack and pair it with foods high in fiber and protein for balance.

Pairing graham crackers with protein, fiber, and fat can slow the spike in blood sugar and insulin. Try crushing a sheet of graham crackers and sprinkling it over plain Greek yogurt with berries.

Opting for 1 cracker sheet instead of 2 will reduce the carbs and sugar to 11 grams and 3-6 grams, respectively.

The main downside to graham crackers is that one serving has about 7 grams of added sugar. Health authorities recommend that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugars per day, and that men consume no more than 36 grams of added sugars per day (4).

It is also recommended that children over the age of 2 consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day, while children 2 and under avoid it completely (3).

Enjoy graham crackers in moderation. Instead of buying them every time you go grocery shopping, try buying them once in a while as a sweet treat.

To make graham crackers a healthier snack when you eat them, pair them with high-quality sources of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This will slow the rise in blood sugar and keep you full longer.

For example, consider using two squares of graham crackers to make a peanut butter and jelly “sandwich” with berries.

Or, mix cinnamon and raspberries into plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle crushed graham crackers on top for a sweet, high-protein yogurt parfait.

Graham crackers can be healthy if you pair them with high-quality sources of protein, fat, and fiber. They can also be high in sugar and low in fiber despite their high carb content, so it may be best to eat them in moderation.

This is especially true for people living with diabetes.

These packaged snacks aren’t too high in calories, fat, or sodium for most people, but it’s important to be careful if you eat them often. Consider reserving them for treats rather than adding them to your daily snack rotation.

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