When you have children you suddenly realise crackers are a whole
new food group in their own right! They're excellent as a standby
for morning tea, emergency snacks, creating a hasty lunch and are
universally popular. The variety and options are mind-boggling and
certainly not limited to just the plain old water crackers our
mothers dished up.
Once you get past the fancy packaging and child-friendly shapes
you'll find that all crackers are not created equal. Depending on
what you want your crackers to do - fill a gap and stop the
grumbling or be a healthy snack - it pays to look at what goes into
Some crackers are rich in fibre and can be a good way of
sneaking some extra roughage into vegetable-avoiders. Choose those
with wholegrains or seeds, such as soy and linseed, poppy seed or
rye varieties as the fibre content will be higher than in more
processed types. As a guide, look for crackers with more than
6grams of fibre per 100 if this is important to you.
Crackers can be high in salt (in the form of sodium) and this
isn't always reflected in the taste so it pays to check out the
label. Also look to see if they're topped with salt as a 'garnish'
which appeals to grown ups but isn't suitable for young children.
Children's relatively small bodies aren't equipped to cope with too
much salt so compare different products and try to choose those
with no greater than 450mg sodium per 100g.
When it comes to fat, crackers can be a trap and may have
especially high levels of saturated fats and possibly trans fats.
On nutrition information panels fats are required to be broken down
into total fats and saturated fats.
- Saturated fats are those commonly regarded as 'bad' fats that
are linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and cancers.
- The difference between the quantity of 'total fat' and
'saturated fats' is the amount of unsaturated fat in a product
(monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats) in a
- Not all fats are 'bad'. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated
(omega-6 and omega-3) fats are protective of the heart and blood
Don't assume crackers marketed as 'baked' have a lower or better
fat profile. Check out the total fat and saturated fat content on
the label and opt for ones with less than 10grams of total fat per
100g. Rice crackers, rice wheels and crispbread tend to be lower in
fat and are good for emergency snacks. Pita bread crisps and crispy
bagel slices can make an interesting alternative too.
Some crackers claim to be low GI (glycaemic index) on the
packaging. These foods make you feel fuller for longer, also known
for offering greater satiety, and may be a good option for children
who constantly say "I'm hungry!".
Remember the ingredients are listed from the greatest to the
smallest by weight, so if you're interested in what makes a cracker
take a deep breath and start reading. If you get too disheartened
try making mousetraps by spreading Marmite or Vegemite on bread,
sprinkling with grated cheese then baking at a low heat. They keep
well in an airtight container, are an alternative to crackers and
are great for using up odd bits of bread.
Endorsed by our Nutritionist | Proudly Partnering
with Parents Centre