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The teatime classic

Most of us enjoy dunking a biscuit or two into a hot cup of coffee or tea, and there's always an ongoing debate between family members, colleagues and friends as to which biscuit is the best for the job!

Traditional biscuits such as custard creams and bourbons are enjoyed by all generations, with market research suggesting each household spends just shy of £100 a year on a whopping 94 packets.

Whether you go wild for a wafer or are a firm digestive devotee, we all have a favourite.

To dunk or not to dunk...

Whether living with diabetes or not, we can all enjoy the odd biscuit as an occasional treat as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

However, it can be all too easy to fall into the twin traps of:

  • Eating more biscuits than you intended to
  • Eating biscuits more regularly than you should.

And, we're all aware that price promotions tend be focused around those food and drink products which contain higher amounts of fat and sugar – therefore they become one of the more affordable choices, but not one of the healthier ones.


Tips to avoid less healthy snacks

Instead of reaching for the tin:

  • Fill up on wholegrains, fruit and veg, and beans and pulses at main meals to increase satiety
  • Try to have healthier snacks with you such as nuts, seeds, low-fat hummus and veg sticks, fruit and wholegrain crackers
  • Could you be thirsty? Have a glass of water or a cup of tea or coffee instead
  • Try going for a walk and distracting yourself from the tempting treats.

Alternative sweet treats

Why not try some of our snack recipes so you’re prepared for that afternoon treat...?

Popular biscuit varieties

We chose a range of different biscuits – and tried to cover all your favourites – to help you compare calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar at a glance...

Although we have included a range of Essential Waitrose biscuits, the cost and nutritional composition are similar to other value ranges such as Tesco Value, Asda SmartPrice and Sainsbury’s Basics. The biscuits were included due to availability at the time.

*These nutritional values were accurate at the time of publication, but some of these values may have changed. Please check the food labels for the latest nutritional information.

Maryland Chocolate Chip Cookies

  Per biscuit (7.5g) Per 100g
Calories 53 487
Carbs 6.9g 63.8g
Sugar 3.6g 33.5g
Fat 2.4g 22.6g
Saturated fat 1.1g 10.2g
Salt trace 0.2g
Protein 0.6g 5.4g
Fibre 0.4g 3.5g


McVitie's Milk Chocolate Digestives

  Per biscuit (16.7g) Per 100g
Calories 83 495
Carbs 10.4g 62.2g
Sugar 4.9g 29.5g
Fat 3.9g 23.6g
Saturated fat 2.1g 12.4g
Salt 0.2g 1g
Protein 1.1g 6.7g
Fibre 0.5g 3g


McVitie's Rich Tea Classic

  Per biscuit (8.3g) Per 100g
Calories 36 436
Carbs 6.3g 75.5g
Sugar 1.7g 20.3g
Fat 0.9g 10.8g
Saturated fat 0.1g 1.2g
Salt 0.1g 0.9g
Protein 0.6g 7.6g
Fibre 0.3g 3.1g


McVitie's Rich Tea Lights

  Per biscuit (8.3g) Per 100g
Calories 38 459
Carbs 5.9g 71.3g
Sugar 1.7g 20.2g
Fat 1.3g 15.5g
Saturated fat 0.1g 1.5g
Salt 0.1g 0.8g
Protein 0.6g 7g
Fibre 0.2g 2.9g


Waitrose All Butter Vanilla Viennese Sandwich Fingers

  Per biscuit (15g) Per 100g
Calories 80 531
Carbs 9.1g 60.9g
Sugar 4.4g 29.5g
Fat 4.3g 28.6g
Saturated fat 2.6g 17.4g
Salt 0.1g 0.5g
Protein 1g 6.7g
Fibre 0.3g 1.8g


Essential Waitrose Garibaldi Biscuits

  Per biscuit (11g) Per 100g
Calories 39 378
Carbs 6.9g 67.6g
Sugar 3.8g 36.9g
Fat 0.9g 9.2g
Saturated fat 0.4g 4.2g
Salt 0.03g 0.3g
Protein 0.5g 4.6g
Fibre 0.3g 3.3g


McVitie's Hobnobs

  Per biscuit (15.2g) Per 100g
Calories 71 470
Carbs 9.3g 61.4g
Sugar 3.9g 25.5g
Fat 3.1g 20.3g
Saturated fat 1.3g 8.9g
Salt 0.1g 0.8g
Protein 1.1g 7.3g
Fibre 0.9g 6.1g


Essential Waitrose Bourbon Creams

  Per biscuit (13g) Per 100g
Calories 68 487
Carbs 9.3g 66.1g
Sugar 4.2g 30.3g
Fat 3g 21.6g
Saturated fat 1.8g 13.1g
Salt 0.04g 0.3g
Protein 0.8g 5.4g
Fibre 0.5g 3.4g


Jammie Dodgers – Raspberry

  Per biscuit (18g) Per 100g
Calories 77 432
Carbs 12.6g 70.9g
Sugar 4.9g 27.4g
Fat 2.5g 13.8g
Saturated fat 1.2g 6.5g
Salt 0.1g 0.6g
Protein 0.9g 5g
Fibre 0.3g 1.9g


McVitie's Jaffa Cakes

  Per biscuit (12.2g) Per 100g
Calories 46 380
Carbs 8.6g 70.8g
Sugar 6.4g 52.5g
Fat 1g 8g
Saturated fat 0.5g 4.1g
Salt trace 0.2g
Protein 0.6g 4.9g
Fibre 0.3g 2.2g


Essential Waitrose Custard Creams

  Per biscuit (12.5g) Per 100g
Calories 62 487
Carbs 8.5g 66.8g
Sugar 3.9g 30.6g
Fat 2.7g 21.1g
Saturated fat 1.4g 11.3g
Salt 0.06g 0.5g
Protein 0.8g 6.1g
Fibre 0.4g 3.1g


McVitie's Original Digestives

  Per biscuit (14.8g) Per 100g
Calories 71 481
Carbs 9.3g 62.9g
Sugar 2.5g 16.6g
Fat 3.2g 21.3g
Saturated fat 1.5g 10.1g
Salt 0.2g 1.3g
Protein 1.1g 7.2g
Fibre 0.5g 3.6g


McVitie's Digestive Lights

  Per biscuit (14.8g) Per 100g
Calories 66 447
Carbs 10.3g 69.7g
Sugar 3g 20.2g
Fat 2.1g 14.4g
Saturated fat 0.2g 1.5g
Salt 0.2g 1.2g
Protein 1.1g 7.3g
Fibre 0.5g 3.6g


Waitrose All Butter Shortbread Fingers

  Per biscuit (20g) Per 100g
Calories 105 525
Carbs 11.8g 59.1g
Sugar 3g 14.9g
Fat 5.8g 29.2g
Saturated fat 3.7g 18.4g
Salt 0.1g 0.6g
Protein 1.1g 5.6g
Fibre 0.4g 1.9g


Cadbury Fingers

  Per biscuit (5.3g) Per 100g
Calories 27 516
Carbs 3.2g 60g
Sugar 1.6g 30.5g
Fat 1.4g 27.1g
Saturated fat 0.7g 14.8g
Salt 0.03g 0.4g
Protein 0.4g 7.3g
Fibre 0.1g 1.5g



Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Tea Cakes

  Per tea cake (24g) Per 100g
Calories 106 440
Carbs 14.9g 61.9g
Sugar 8.6g 36g
Fat 4.6g 19.2g
Saturated fat 2.5g 10.5g
Salt 0.2g 0.7g
Protein 1.2g 4.9g
Fibre 0.6g 2.4g


Crawford's Pink Wafers

  Per biscuit (7.1g) Per 100g
Calories 39 551
Carbs 4.4g 61.5g
Sugar 2.3g 32.4g
Fat 2.3g 32.1g
Saturated fat 1.8g 25.3g
Salt 0.02g 0.25g
Protein 0.3g 3.6g
Fibre 0.1g 0.8g


Essential Waitrose Nice Biscuits

  Per biscuit (7.8g) Per 100g
Calories 40 498
Carbs 5.1g 63.2g
Sugar 2g 25g
Fat 1.9g 23.9g
Saturated fat 1.1g 13.3g
Salt 0.02g 0.3g
Protein 0.5g 5.8g
Fibre 0.3g 3.5g


Sugar content of biscuits

Most of us know that we need to cut down on our free sugar intake. Free sugar includes all sugar which is added to anything we eat or drink, and may appear on the ingredients list as many different names such as: glucose, sucrose, maltose, honey, molasses, maple syrup, glucose syrup, hydrolyzed starch, corn syrup, agave nectar, coconut palm sugar, or treacle.

As you can see, they also include honey, syrups and also fruit juice. However, naturally-occurring fructose in fruit, and lactose in milk, are not the types of sugar we need to cut down on, and some biscuits do contain small amounts of dried fruit.

Free sugar is linked to tooth decay, obesity and can lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Read more about how to cut down on sugar.

Where could you make savings on sugar?

  • 2x milk chocolate digestives = 9.8g sugar (just under a 1/3 of daily intake)
    Swap for: 2x plain digestives = save 24kcals and 4.8g sugar
  • 2x jaffa cakes = 12.8g sugar (almost 1/2 of your daily intake)
    Swap for: 2x rich tea lights = save 20kcals and 9.4g sugar
  • 2x custard creams = 7.8g sugar (about 1/4 of your daily intake)
    Swap for: 2x nice biscuits = save 3.8g sugar and 44kcals

Fat content of biscuits

Biscuits are also hiding a fairly high amount of fat. Many of the biscuits we put under the spotlight used either butter or palm oil as the fat of choice. Both are high in saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease.

However, rich tea biscuits are made with sunflower oil, which explains their lower saturated fat content.

Unsaturated fats from plant oils like sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil help maintain levels of good cholesterol (HDL). All fats are high in calories so, if you are trying to maintain or achieve a healthy weight, cutting down on the amount of fat in your diet can really help.

We all need some fat in our diets to provide energy and essential fatty acids, but it’s important to think about how much you're having, and the type of fat.

Type 1 diabetes and biscuits

If you have Type 1 diabetes, in the past your insulin regime may not have been as flexible as the basal bolus regimes we see today. Many people were taking fixed doses of insulin and were therefore advised to eat regular carb-containing snacks such as biscuits.

Newer insulins, and carbohydrate counting courses such as DAFNE, have meant that people with Type 1 diabetes have increased flexibility and may not require snacks. If you find that you need to eat a carb-containing snack to keep blood sugar levels up – but you don't really feel like eating or are trying to manage your weight – speak to your diabetes team for advice.

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