Whether you eat your crackers with soup, munch them with cheese or dip them in hummus, there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from – crackers with whole grains, seeds, vegetables and flavourful herbs and spices. But not all crackers live up to their healthy-sounding name.
Christie Vegetable Thins Original
These crackers are indeed thin when it comes to nutrition. Made from refined – not whole-grain – flour, you won't find a speck of fibre in a serving of these crackers. What you will find, however, is vegetable oil shortening (aka modified palm and modified palm kernel oils) – the second ingredient after wheat (white) flour – delivering 2 grams of saturated fat per 30-gram serving.
The company's website (Kraft Canada) boasts crackers that "combine great taste with the goodness of vegetables." Vegetables? Really? More like the goodness of a dehydrated vegetable seasoning blend, consisting of carrot, onion, celery, cabbage, red bell pepper and tomato all treated with sulphites, sugar, more wheat flour, salt, MSG and other additives. Scan the nutrition label and you'll see a serving of these crackers doesn't provide any vitamin A or C, nutrients that indicate the presence of vegetables.
Nutrition value for 20 crackers (30 g) **
• 135 calories
• 6.8 grams fat
• 2.2 grams saturated fat
• 0 grams trans fat
• 315 milligrams sodium
• 18 grams carbohydrate
• 0 grams fibre
• 0% daily value for vitamins A and C
Kashi Fire Roasted Veggie Snack Crackers
Made with the company's signature 7 whole grain flour, which tops the list of ingredients, this is a much better pick. Whole grains appear two more times on the ingredient list, contributing to the 3 grams of fibre per 30-gram serving. These crackers are saturated and trans fat free, thanks to the addition of expeller pressed canola oil, an unsaturated fat. (Expeller pressed means the oil is extracted from the seeds using heat and friction rather than chemical solvents.) And the roasted vegetable blend contains only bell pepper, tomato, onion, carrot and natural flavour.
Nutrition value for 15 crackers (30 g)
• 120 calories
• 3.5 grams fat
• 0 grams saturated fat
• 0 grams trans fat
• 200 milligrams sodium
• 19 grams carbohydrate
• 3 grams fibre
• 2% Daily Value for vitamins A and C
Bottom line: Eat your broccoli, kale and carrots to get your veggies. Look for crackers made from whole grains containing at least 3 grams of fibre and no more than 240 milligrams of sodium per 30-gram serving.
* To even the playing field, nutrients were compared for 30 grams worth of crackers, the serving size most commonly used on nutrition labels. Some companies, however, disclose nutrient numbers for a 20-gram serving or less (as is case for Christie Vegetable Thins, which I adjusted for this analysis). Pay attention to serving size when comparing brands.