Graham crackers aren’t terrible for you, but they do contain artificial flavors, additives, and sugars. Consume them occasionally and opt for either a plain or honey flavored variety that is GMO-free.
If you have a sweet tooth, graham crackers can be a good option. They certainly aren’t as bad for you as candy, cookies, or ice cream. You can find graham crackers in a variety of flavors, including plain, honey, cinnamon, and even chocolate. They provide some whole grains and a tiny bit of fiber, but with a big carbohydrate and sugar punch for the serving size.
While some brands have better ingredients than others, virtually all graham crackers are made with enriched wheat flour (bleached or unbleached). Because the flour is stripped of nutrients during processing, artificial thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, niacin, reduced iron, and folic acid are added back in to add some nutritional value. In addition to the enriched wheat flour, graham crackers have graham flour, which is whole grain and contains some of the wheat bran. However, there is only little of this wheat flour to provide dietary fiber or associated health benefits.
Graham crackers are made with some other questionable ingredients: oil, typically soybean oil or a hydrogenated oil, and soy lecithin. Both soybean and hydrogenated oils are bad news. Soybean oil consumed in the United States is most often genetically modified (GMO). As for hydrogenated oils, they are a trans fatty acid and can quickly increase cholesterol levels in the body. Soy lecithin, an emulsifier, might just be the worst culprit in graham crackers. It is known to bind to certain nutrients, which makes them harder for the body to absorb. It also is estrogenic, affecting hormones in the endocrine system and thyroid function.
Finally, graham crackers contain unspecified artificial flavors, which are lab-made flavors designed to mimic the taste of natural flavors. Lab-made ingredients are never a good thing! Any flavor of graham cracker has some sort of added artificial flavoring, but plain graham crackers are the best option as they contain the smallest amount.
Graham crackers are mostly empty carbohydrates. One serving of graham crackers, which is typically 2 cracker sheets or around 28g, comes in at just under 120 calories. One serving has 22g of carbohydrates. One serving of this snack food accounts for 7% of your daily recommended intake for carbohydrates. That’s a lot of carbohydrates for only a small snack.
One serving also has 3g of fat, 169mg of sodium, and 9g of sugar, with only 2g of protein. This accounts for 7% of your recommended daily sodium intake, and a 4% of your recommended daily fat intake. These amounts are large, considering that graham crackers account for such a small amount of daily food eaten.
To wrap things up:
Graham crackers can be enticing because they are a sweet snack that isn’t as unhealthy as a cookie or cake. However, they aren’t a healthy snack either. They contain tiny amounts of vitamins and minerals while packing in some major sodium and sugar. They are also made with GMOs and artificial flavors and additives, all of which can have their own negative effects when consumed regularly. If you must get your graham cracker fix, opt for a plain variety, or better yet, try an organic brand like Annie's Homegrown that steers clear of any artificial ingredients.
Possible short-term side effects
- allergic reaction
- insulin spike due to sugars
Possible long-term side effects
- obesity/weight problems
- high blood pressure
- poor endocrine production
- disrupted thyroid function
- reduced ability to absorb nutrients
- high cholesterol
Ingredients to be aware of
- enriched flour
- gmo soybean oil
- hydrogenated oils
- sugar or high-fructose corn syrup
- soy lecithin
- artificial flavors
- low in saturated fat
- low in cholesterol
- healthier than other sweets
- small amounts of dietary fiber