Don't judge a food by name alone. While digestive biscuits originated in the early 19th century as a food to aid in digestion, the modern-day version may not be as effective. Digestive biscuits, also called digestive cookies, can be a source of whole grains and fiber, but you'll need to read nutrition labels to be sure you're getting the healthiest version possible rather than just a sugary treat.
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Check the nutrition label of digestive biscuits or digestive crackers, and opt for those that are high in fiber and low in sodium. Healthier versions of digestive biscuits can aid digestion, lower cholesterol and help with weight management.
Nutritional Profile of Digestive Biscuits
In general, two digestive cookies contain approximately 150 calories, 6 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 5 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein. Digestive biscuits are not necessarily a significant source of any vitamin or mineral. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend you limit your intake of foods with added sugar and fat, which may include certain digestive biscuits, because they may contribute calories and offer very little nutritional value.
The ingredients vary depending on the brand of digestive crackers or cookies you eat, however, and some brands contain whole-wheat flour. Ideally, whole-wheat flour should be listed as the first ingredient to make sure you're getting an adequate amount of fiber. The combination of fiber and baking soda may help with digesting a large meal.
Read more: Whole Wheat Vs. Wheat Bran
Benefits of High-Fiber Biscuits
Note that digestive biscuits are a staple food in the United Kingdom, but you can also find digestive crackers or cookies in specialty markets or import sections of U.S. grocery stores. Check the nutrition label of digestive cookies to identify healthier, high-fiber biscuits that will help you meet your daily needs — roughly 21 to 25 grams for women and 30 to 38 grams for men, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Getting adequate fiber not only alleviates constipation, but may also lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of chronic illness. In addition, people who eat more whole grains may have an easier time managing their weight and staving off obesity. The dietary fiber content of whole grains allows you to feel satiated for longer, helping you eat less.
Whole grains offer additional health benefits, too, according to the American Heart Association. The fiber content can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, and eating more whole grains may lower your risk of developing diabetes. Whole grains provide important nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium and selenium that are key for bodily functions, including cell formation, transporting blood in the body and maintaining the immune system.
Check the Sodium Content
Digestive crackers or biscuits may be high in sodium, depending on the brand. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium, as high intake of sodium is linked to high blood pressure, which increases risk of heart disease, congestive heart failure and kidney disease.
A healthy diet should limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, or less if your doctor advises a low-sodium diet. Again, check the nutrition label of any digestive biscuit to read its percent of daily value (%DV). In general, a food with 5 percent DV or less of sodium per serving is a low-sodium food, and 20 percent or more is considered high.
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Chapter 1. Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Sodium in Your Diet: Using the Nutrition Facts Label to Reduce Your Intake"
- Organic Facts: "Are Digestive Biscuits Good for Health?"
- American Heart Association: "Whole Grains, Refined Grains, and Dietary Fiber"
- EatRight: "Easy Ways to Boost Fiber in Your Daily Diet"