What's the crack with this savoury snack?
Long gone are the days when you have to settle for a plain cream cracker that’s been hiding at the back of the cupboard for months...
Now, the choice includes rice cakes, spelt cakes and crisp breads amongst many others. And, you don’t have to settle for the standard size and shape either - there’s everything including thin versions, mini versions and breadsticks.
With so many options available, it’s unsurprising that consumer research suggested sales were up 6.9 per cent in 2015.
Rethinking cracker snacks
So, how do you pick a healthy a choice with so many cracker varieties flooding the supermarket shelves? Varying in ingredients, nutrients and how they may impact blood sugar, it's certainly worth thinking about.
Whether your crackers are part of a main meal or a stand-alone light snack, it’s important to think about what it contains and what you are going to top it with...
Some ideas follow later on this page, but why not seek some inspiration from ourrecipe finder?
Cracker nutrition: fibre
Many crackers now have a higher-fibre option, using wholemeal flour, wheatgerm or added nuts and seeds to boost flavour and provide some extra nutrition.
Fibre is important for our gut health, and also helps reduce blood cholesterol levels which lowers your risk of heart disease.
Having more fibre also helps to manage diabetes – fibre reduces the GI, which is a ranking of how quickly a food or drink will make blood glucose levels rise.
Adults should be aiming for at least 30g of fibre each day, which is difficult to achieve without including wholegrains in your diet.
So, why not swap to a wholegrain cracker and feel fuller for longer?
Hidden salt in crackers
Three quarters of the salt we eat is from foods we have bought outside the home, and some crackers can often contain worryingly high amounts.
Check the labels carefully and try choose crackers that are green for salt (less than or equal to 0.3g per 100g).
Helping with weight control
If you're trying to achieve a healthy weight, crackers can provide a lighter option: two multigrain crackers is around 64kcal compared to approximately 250kcal in two slices of multigrain bread. With this simple swap, you could be making a saving of 186kcal.
And the savings don’t have to stop there.
Just 10g of butter – a thin scraping on two crackers – packs around 74kcal and 8g fat. Whereas, 1 lighter cheese triangle is around 25kcal and only 1.2g of fat. Or, 30g of a hard cheese such as cheddar is 125kcal and 10.5g fat, unlike 30g of Edam which is 95kcal and 7.1g fat.
Remember, it’s important to ensure that our whole diet is balanced, so why not get in an extra portion of fruit andveg by adding some tomato, cucumber or sliced pepper to your cracker topping?
Ideas for cracker topping and dips
Wave goodbye to boring snacks with these delicious options for healthier, more satisfying toppings and dips for your cracker...
Popular cracker brands under the spotlight
We chose a selection of crackers, crispbreads and breadsticks to give you an idea of what’s available and how different varieties compare in terms of calories, fat, saturated fat, salt and fibre.
All individual cracker weights are approximate.
*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.
Original Ritz Crackers
|Per cracker (3.5g)||Per 100g|
Hovis Extra Wheatgerm Crackers
|Per cracker (6.1g)||Per 100g|
Jacob's Choice Grain Multigrain Crackers
|Per cracker (7.4g)||Per 100g|
Ryvita Dark Rye Crispbread
|Per cracker (10g)||Per 100g|
Nairn's Gluten-Free Wholegrain Crackers
|Per cracker (5.7g)||Per 100g|
Nairn's Rough Oatcakes
|Per oatcake (10g)||Per 100g|
Kallo Lightly Salted Wholegrain Low Fat Rice Cakes
|Per rice cake (8g)||Per 100g|
Tuc Cheese Sandwich
|Per biscuit (13.6g)||Per 100g|
Biona Organic Spelt Cakes
|Per spelt cake (8g)||Per 100g|
|Fibre||not stated||not stated|
Waitrose All Butter Cheddar Twists
|Per twist (7.8g)||Per 100g|
Jacob's Cream Crackers
|Per cracker (8g)||Per 100g|
Carr's Table Water
|Per biscuit (3.4g)||Per 100g|
Kallo Belgian Milk Chocolate Organic Rice Cake Thins
|Per thin (22.5g)||Per 100g|
Dr. Karg's Seeded Spelt Crackers
|Per crispbread (25g)||Per 100g|
Ocado Italian Original Breadsticks
|Per breadstick (5.5g)||Per 100g|
Snack A Jacks – Salt and Vinegar
|Per serving (26g)||Per 100g|
A closer look at the numbers – and what they mean for your diet
Fats and saturated fat
Surprisingly, we found that several of the options were high in fat and saturated fat. The name gives a clue in some cases – eg 'all butter' or 'cheese sandwich' – but it takes a closer look at the ingredients list to find that many of the crackers contain palm oil in the first three ingredients.
Possibly not so surprisingly, many of the crackers also had moderate or high amounts of salt, either as a headline flavouring or included in the ingredients list.
The good news is that, with around 30 kcals per cracker.
We included a chocolate-coated thin rice cake to highlight how packaging can often be misleading. Although the rice cake appears to be a low-calorie and lighter snack choice, it's actually high in fat, saturated fat and sugar given the generous coating of milk chocolate. This is an example of where it can be a better choice to.
For example, try topping your rice cake with any of the following for a delicious, filling snack:
- chopped fruit
- a scraping of nut butter and sliced apple
- salmon and light cream cheese
- hummus and grated carrot.