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Are Pretzels Healthy to Eat?

by
author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
Are Pretzels Healthy to Eat?
Bowl of salted pretzels. Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

Pretzels are crunchy, low in fat and portable, but they're not necessarily healthy. A quick glance at the nutrition label on a package of pretzels reveals that they're quite low in fat, but many consumers choose to stop there and opt for pretzels as a supposedly healthy snack. While pretzels do offer small amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, they shouldn't necessarily be considered a healthy snack because they're also high in sodium.

Fat, Protein and Fiber

A 1-ounce serving of pretzels contains 109 calories and about 1 gram of fat, of which almost none is saturated fat. That same serving of pretzels, however, doesn't supply much in the way of energy-boosting protein with just 2.8 grams per ounce. A healthy snack should include a good amount of protein, because it fills your stomach and provides a burst of energy that will last until your next meal. An ounce of pretzels also supplies 0.9 gram of fiber, which is only about 3 to 5 percent of the 20 to 30 grams of fiber adults should have each day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Vitamin and Mineral Lowdown

One ounce of pretzels contains 1.55 milligrams of iron, a nutrient that helps your body make red blood cells and helps maintain your energy. That amount translates to 19 percent of the 8 milligrams of iron men need each day and 9 percent of the 18 milligrams women need on a daily basis. That same ounce of pretzels also contains 1.7 milligrams of niacin, a nutrient that helps your body turn food into energy. That's 12 percent of the 14 milligrams women need each day and 11 percent of the 16 milligrams men require on a daily basis. An ounce of pretzels provides you with small amounts of magnesium, potassium and vitamin E, as well.

Sodium Is a Drawback

Eating too much sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Having high-blood pressure can raise your chances of developing heart disease. Healthy adults should limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day and individuals who are over the age of 50, are African-American or who already have heart disease shouldn't have more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. An ounce of pretzels contains 326 milligrams of sodium, which is 14 percent of the 2,300-milligram limit and 22 percent of the 1,500-milligram limit.

Making Wise Choices

The occasional handful of pretzels isn't something to worry about, but regularly eating pretzels for a snack isn't a wise choice. If you're craving pretzels, pair them with a low-fat piece of cheese for some protein and calcium or a piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple or pear, which will add fiber to your snack. When you do have pretzels, opt for low-sodium versions, which are available at most large supermarkets. These lower-sodium pretzels will allow you to eat the food you want without going overboard on the salt.

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