Ritz crackers are bad for you. They've got marginal levels of nutrients and a lot of questionable additives that your body doesn't need.
Some varieties of Ritz crackers are rich in sodium - a single serving of Ritz Bitz Cheese has almost 500 grams, which is between one-half and one-third of the sodium that you need for the day. Eat two or three servings, and you'll quickly rise above a thousand grams of sodium. That's way too much for two packs of crackers. Even if the other meals that day have no sodium whatsoever - unlikely at best - you're already at the limit for the elderly or those with cardiovascular problems. Combine a single serving of Ritz crackers with, say, a single serving of ramen, and you're near the max limit for someone in perfectly good health. That's way more sodium than you need.
Ritz crackers contain high fructose corn syrup. HFCS isn't pure fructose - it's got glucose in it as well. Still, it rocks a 65% fructose level, despite the fact that crackers are not a fruit. Fructose is digested in the liver; it's broken down into sugars and stored as fat; may of those globules land in your circulatory system. Eat too much HFCS over time, and that stored fat can clog up your arteries and bring on chronic conditions like high blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease. They're dangerous in combination with sodium, which has a similar effect.
This wouldn't be so bad if there was some fiber in Ritz crackers to slow the rate at which HFCS was absorbed and broken down by the body. Because Ritz are made with refined flour, they've got no fiber. That means the uglier ingredients hit your body's systems quickly and unmitigated.
Most varieties of Ritz crackers also have the ominous catch-all "natural flavors," which is discussed elsewhere on this site. Natural flavor could be pretty much anything; provided that it's extracted rather than synthesized, all kinds of flavoring agents can be called "natural flavor." Usually, several are combined in a lab to nail down a particular taste. That doesn't mean that they're bad for you, but it says very little about what they are - be cautious where you see "natural flavor" on a label.
Possible long-term side effects
- heart disease
- bodily inflammation
- weight gain, obesity
Ingredients to be aware of
- partially hydrogenated oils
- soy lecithin
- high fructose corn syrup
- excessive levels of sodium
- natural flavors