Goldfish, Cheez Its, and other bite-size cheese crackers are beloved childhood snacks enjoyed by both young people as well as their adult counterparts. And while these ever-popular finger foods are arguably very delicious, they aren’t always the most nutritious options for toddlers and growing children.
While the reality is that there are no real store-bought cheese crackers that are legitimate “love it” options, there are a few that are better than others. One thing to be watchful for with these types of snacks is the amount of white processed flour in the list of ingredients, as well as the sodium levels. Here are our picks for the best and worst cheese cracker products on the market that we highlighted in one of our recent “Love it, Like it, Hate it” segments:
While none of the current options for kid-friendly cheese crackers are completely wholesome, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Whole Grain does list whole wheat flour as the first ingredient, meaning it contains more whole grain than anything else. Things get less healthful after that with enriched wheat, another word for white flour, as the second ingredient. Gerber Graduates Lil’ Whoos Cheddar Crackers have a similar makeup, with whole wheat flour listed as the number one ingredient. On a positive note, none of the crackers in any category contain any type of artificial coloring. They are all colored with natural ingredients like paprika.
Whole Grain Cheez-It also list whole wheat as a primary ingredient, although it is second on the list to enriched wheat flour (white flour). These crackers also contain relatively low levels of sugar. Healthwise, a few helpings of these crackers is the equivalent of eating a couple slices of white bread.
Two surprises on this list: Reduced Fat Cheez-Its and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. While Annie’s is traditionally known as a source of healthy, organic products, these cheddar bunnies contain only white enriched flour. While these Cheez-Its might appear to be more healthy because of their lower fat content, reduced fat doesn’t actually mean all that much. Cheese crackers aren’t that high in fat to begin with, and reduced fat just means 25% less than the original.
For more details on this topic, watch Molly’s full “Love it, Like it, Hate it” segment on WGNO New Orleans.