Graham crackers as known today first began as graham bread in the 1800s, according to a publication from Oberlin College. Sylvester Graham was interested in healthy living and developed a cracker made from whole-wheat flour that was fashioned into squares. If you are trying to lose weight, the modern graham cracker offers a convenient, low-fat way to have a sweet treat without a lot of calories.
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Modern graham crackers, such as those made by Nabisco, typically contain unbleached whole-grain or graham flour that the manufacturer enriches with vitamins. In addition to flour, graham crackers contain oils and sweeteners. Commercial graham crackers may contain partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars and partially hydrogenated oils to help control your weight and reserve your calories for healthier foods.
Calories and Nutrients
Graham crackers generally come in long, rectangular shapes. One large rectangle contains only 59 calories, which is less than a large chocolate chip or sugar cookie. This low-calorie treat may help you satisfy your sweet tooth without indulging in chocolate or ice cream that contains hundreds of calories. According to the USDA, the crackers also have 1 g of protein, 1.4 g of fat and .4 g of fiber per large rectangle. The fat in a graham cracker is 15 percent saturated, and 85 percent is from healthier fats. The cracker contains small amounts of pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin. The crackers contain no vitamins C, A or B-12.
Some brands of graham crackers contain whole-grain ingredients, which can help you stay full. Feeling full while trying to lose weight can assist you when you want to avoid eating more food than you have planned for the day. The April 2011 edition of "Eating Behaviors" included a study that found people who ate whole grains maintained their weight loss more successfully than those who did not eat whole grains. Look for graham crackers that use whole-wheat flour or have the words "whole grain" on the label.
Use graham crackers as snack food or as a dessert. If using the graham crackers as a snack, add 1 tbsp. of peanut butter or 1 tbsp. of fat-free cream cheese for added nutrition and flavor. Chocolate-flavored graham crackers can give you a taste of chocolate for dessert with few calories. While graham crackers are low in calories, eating too many crackers adds unnecessary calories to your daily eating plan. If you eat two or three graham-cracker servings rather than one, you double or triple the calories, hindering your weight loss. Eat the reduced-fat graham crackers to reduce your fat and calorie intake.
- Oberlin College; Nutritional Crusade; 2008
- Nabisco World: Honey Maid Grahams
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Graham Crackers
- “Eating Behaviors”; Dietary Energy Density and Successful Weight Loss Maintenance; Hollie A. Raynor, et al.; April 2011
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight; February 2011