Are pretzels good for you? No, not quite and we will explain why. There are a few food items we see at the supermarkets that are typically labeled as healthy and nutritious food, but in hindsight, they aren’t really good for your health. One such food item is a pack of pretzels. Pretzels are not good for you as a snack to munch on every day. Just because pretzels are low in fat, it doesn’t mean they are a healthy choice of snack for you or your kids.
Originating from Europe, pretzels are typically made from refined flour that has low or no fiber content, and are quite poor in overall nutritional value. We agree that pretzels are low in fat, but then again, they are equally low in protein, and have a limited amount of essential nutrients. However, a lot depends on the ingredients used in making pretzels.
Are Pretzels Good for You?
Pretzels are a popular snack food in America and other parts of the world. But is regular eating of pretzels good for you? Are there any pretzel health benefits? Are pretzels good for weight loss? Let’s find out.
Nutrition Content of Pretzels
Pretzels do have some good features, as well as some bad ones. On one hand, they are low in saturated fats and cholesterol, while on the other, they are a good source of folate and manganese.
However, they are high in sodium content and low in fiber. Furthermore, many pretzels are topped with sodium chloride and sugars.
Benefits of Pretzels Made With Enriched Flour
In knowing are pretzels good for you, its imperative to know what raw materials have been used to make it. Pretzels that are made of fortified flour could be healthy to some extent.
This is because the enriched flour used for making pretzels is fortified with extra folate and iron. Folate and iron are important nutrients that support and improve overall health by preventing cell damage and improving metabolism, as well as promoting hemoglobin production and reproductive health.
However, there are better food sources that provide these nutrients, for example, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, chicken, fish, spinach, and more.
Benefits of Pretzels Made With Unenriched Flour
Pretzels that are made from refined, unenriched flour contain minimal nutrients, as the nutrient-packed bran and germ are stripped from the whole wheat grain. This eliminates the fiber content in the whole wheat grain, pushing this food into the high-glycemic index category. However, if the pretzels are made from whole wheat, then it would increase their nutrition value, and reduce the glycemic index.
Some pretzels contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which make them extremely unhealthy. This increases their trans fats content. Trans fats could lead to a rise in bad cholesterol levels, and thus, increase the risk of heart disease.
Another important factor to know, are pretzels good for you or not is its nutrition content. A serving of one ounce of pretzels contains 109 calories and one gram of fat. This might sound attractive to people who are watching their weight, but it is in no way a healthy food. Pretzels will not provide you with any energy, and its high sodium content may increase the risk of blood pressure.
They are a tasty snack, but will not keep you full for a long period of time, as they contain a minimal amount of fiber. A one-ounce serving of pretzels supplies only 0.9 grams of fiber. This accounts for only three to five percent of the 20 to 30 grams of fiber recommended daily for an adult by the Harvard School of Public Health.
Are Soft Pretzels Healthy?
Are soft pretzels healthy? Again, the answer lies in the nutrient content that they have. Soft pretzels are a variant of the otherwise hard and crunchy pretzels, and are also made from refined flour. A small-sized, soft pretzel supplies 210 calories—about 10% of a standard 2,000-calorie diet.
Of the 210 calories, about 84% of the calories come from carbohydrates, as each pretzel contains 43 grams of total carbohydrates with only one gram of fiber. They contain a meager amount of protein and fats—five grams and two grams respectively.
Depending on the flour used to make them, soft pretzels may contain some vitamins and minerals in trace amounts. A small, soft pretzel may provide about 19% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B3 (niacin) for women, and 16% for men, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. It may also provide 25% and 21% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B1 (thiamine) for women and men, respectively. However, there are other better vitamin B food sources available—like eggs, soy, dairy, oats, nuts, fruits, and many vegetables.
Are Pretzels Healthier Than Chips?
We often crave for something sweet. But, then there are days when we just have to satisfy our sodium cravings as well with a crunchy and salty snack.
Pretzels Vs. Chips: Which is a Healthier Snack?
Now that you know are pretzels good for you or not? Let’s see how it stands against potato chips. In a comparative analysis between pretzels and potato chips, pretzels’ calories are fewer than those of potato chips.
A serving of one ounce of pretzels contains 108 calories, while the same serving of potato chips contains 154 calories. The sodium content is higher in pretzels, with 486 milligrams for a one-ounce serving as compared to 136 milligrams for the same serving of potatoes chips.
Pretzels also win over potato chips when comparing their iron and folate contents. According to the Institute of Medicine, one serving of pretzels provides 169 micrograms of folic acid; this accounts for 42% of your recommended daily intake. Potato chips offer just 43 micrograms of folic acid per serving. Pretzels win the battle against fried potato chips, but that is not to say that it is a healthy snack.
In conclusion, you can have pretzels in moderation once in a while. Obviously, they are not a healthy snack alternative to fruits and nuts. It is recommended you avoid having them if you are hypertensive or diabetic. As with most foods, moderation is key.
Also, be sure to buy recognized brands, and read ingredient labels carefully. Check for sodium, trans fats, sugars, and other additives on the packaging. Opt for pretzels made from whole wheat, soy, or some other high-fiber flour.
“Pretzel,” How Products are Made; http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Pretzel.html.
“Pretzels vs. Potato Chips,” Spark People; http://www.sparkpeople.com/food_vs_food.asp?food=81_82_pretzels_versus_potato-chips.