Cookies aren't exactly healthy snacks. Although they do provide quick energy and contain some beneficial nutrients, the amounts of saturated fat and processed sugar in most cookies are enough to outweigh their nutritious qualities. Oatmeal raisin cookies are healthier than most other cookie types, but even with their few wholesome ingredients, they're more of a splurge than a smart snack.
A commercially prepared oatmeal cookie has approximately 105 calories, 1.3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, 0.7 grams of fiber and 10 grams of sugar. A comparable chocolate chip cookie has about 15 more calories, a little less protein and fiber, as well as twice the amount of fat. For a healthier choice, you could cook up a packet of instant raisin spice oatmeal cereal, which has 155 calories, 4 grams of protein, 1.7 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of fiber and 15 grams of sugar.
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The oats in oatmeal raisin cookies are whole grains that contain two types of carbohydrates: complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Both types of carbs provide "slow-burning" energy, which can help keep you full for long periods and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. Raisins are also a good source of fiber as well as phytochemicals, which are naturally protective substances that can boost your immune system.
Even though oats and raisins add nutritional value to each cookie, the amounts of each ingredient per cookie are just a fraction of the suggested serving sizes, so the benefits are not significant. For example, the recommended dietary allowance of fiber for adult women is at least 25 grams, while for adult men it's at least 30 grams, but an oatmeal raisin cookie has less than 1 gram. Each cookie also contains almost 3 teaspoons of sugar, which is about one-half the American Heart Association's recommended daily maximum for women and about one-third the daily maximum for men.
Making Your Own
When you make oatmeal raisin cookies yourself, you have the opportunity to add nutrition. Using whole-wheat pastry flour instead of refined white flour won't dramatically change the taste, but will add more complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Cutting back on butter and substituting some of it with applesauce will slightly alter the texture of the cookies, but it will add vitamins and minerals and reduce the calorie count per serving. Reducing added sugar and using more raisins for natural sweetness is also a healthier choice.