Are Pretzels Healthy??

For the next week, I am going to give my opinion about seemingly ”healthy” foods in an “Is It Healthy” Series. I decided to kick this series off on a random Friday because it’s my blog and I can do what I want. ;)

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Pretzels. Are they healthy? I get this question A LOT, so I decided to address it on my blog. In my opinion, pretzels have very little to brag about. Even though they are low in fat and relatively low in calories, they are not particularly nutritionally sound.

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INGREDIENTS:

Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid), water, salt, malt, dextrose, canola oil*, yeast, soda. *Adds a trivial amount of fat.

I am not going to pretend that I don’t enjoy pretzels every now and then. Occasionally I’ll pick up a bag from the vending machine at work because it is literally that or a hostess cupcake (ick). The one thing I have found though is they aren’t very satisfying. Yes, they tide me over for a little while, but I find I’m looking for more to eat fairly quickly; whether that is more pretzels or another snack altogether. Could be the lack of protein and whole grain; you aren’t going to stay very full on less than 1 gram of fiber (for most brands) and even less protein. Plus there is a lot of sodium per serving and generally I’m left feeling bloated!!

When I snack, I try to be smart about it. I try to look for foods that are going to tide me over for at least 2-3 hours. If you enjoy salty/chip-type snacks, I’m not going to take that away from you. As I always say, you can enjoy all foods, just not every day.

How about trying some healthy alternatives though? Snacks that might leave you feeling MORE satisfied and give you a boost of nutrition?

Some similar/healthier alternatives?

  • Homemade popcorn (controlled salt/butter)
  •  Whole wheat or whole grain crackers
  • Toasted whole grain pita chips (I like to buy pita bread that literally has one ingredient: whole wheat flour)
  •  Baked sweet potato “fries”
  • Apple or banana chips (without added sweeteners or ingredients).

*I try to pair these snacks with some form of healthy protein for extra staying power (especially if I know that I won’t have another meal for awhile).

QUESTION: Do you like pretzels? What is your favorite chip-like snack? Any other chip-like snack ideas to share?

 

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45 comments to Are Pretzels Healthy??

  • Joy Roxborough

    Sorry, link in previous comment does not work. Here is recipe pasted below. Any suggestions at to what I could use in place of the pretzels in this recipe

    Ingredients
    1 cuppuffed rice cereal
    3/4 cuppretzel sticks, broken into bite-sized pieces
    6 ouncessemisweet chocolate chips
    1/4 cupchunky peanut butter

    Preparation

    Combine 1 cup puffed rice cereal and 3/4 cup pretzel sticks, broken into bite-sized pieces. Melt 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips in a microwave, stirring until smooth. Add 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter, stirring just until combined. Stir chocolate mixture into pretzel mixture; combine well. Drop 20 mounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper; chill until firm (about 10 minutes).

    Thanks, Joy

  • Joy Roxborough

    any suggestions at to what I could use in place of the pretzels in this recipe: http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000002013007,00.html

    Thanks

    Joy

  • Jacqui

    I hate pretzels, they are dry and boring. I pick them out of the Munchie Mix. However, I’ll admit to enjoying the rest of the Munchie Mix! I also love potato chips. Moderation is the key. I stopped keeping junk food in the house, because whenever we sit down to watch TV we hear it calling to us from the pantry! Interestingly, during all 6 pregnancies I craved grapefruit and potato chips (yes, together) possibly for the Vitamin C in the fruit and the potassium in the chips.

  • anna

    i am addicted to pretzels aswell. i always have stomach aces and eat the pretzels to realive the symptoms. for some reason when i eat the pretzels my stomach ace goes away…odd right?

  • I am also addicted to pretzels and was looking for a reason as to why I crave them so much over food. I too have had gastric bypass. After having some blood work done, I found out I’m deficient in niacin, iron and folic acid. These same ingredients are found in pretzels. I’m convinced its

  • Melanie

    I’m truly addicted to pretzels. I would rather eat pretzels than anything else. There have been days, more often than not, that the only food i eat all day is pretzels. I had gastric bypass 2 years ago. I lost A LOT *220 lbs* of weight. My pretzel addicion started about 6 months ago. I can’t die from it can I?

  • [...] is doing an awesome series on “Is It Healthy?” She covered yogurt, fruit smoothies, and pretzels. Check it [...]

  • I do like pretzels, but I have to be in the mood for them. And I guess it’s not surprising that they aren’t filling on their own. I usually pair them with cheese.

  • I love that you posted about pretzels! I have a pretzel recipe (soft pretzels) going up tomorrow. And there’s nothing “healthy” about them, but they sure are good for a treat!! I’m not big on snackie foods — I usually stick to fruit, sometimes with cottage cheese.

  • i feel the same way. I don’t mind eating something a bit “not healthy,” but it better at least fill me up! and pretzels just don’t. i have to eat 8 million of them!:)

  • My husband likes pretzels, but I can’t stand them! I don’t know why I don’t like them (maybe the salt?) but I would much rather have popcorn or crackers. However, I do LOVE soft pretzels (sans salt, or course) Thank you for sharing, my blogging friend! I’m sending you wishes for a happy and delicious week!

  • i just LOVE your idea for the week, Erin! there are way too many foods that disguise themselves as healthy (those sneaky marketers.) i myself actually haven’t had pretzels in years. i’m just not really a snack food or salty person.

  • I like your alternative snack suggestions. It just goes to show how confused people are about what constitutes a “healthy” food and how rarely people look at ingredients list :)

  • I’ve never been a pretzel girl…unless we’re talking about soft pretzels. Oooh how I used to love that salty, doughy, butter-brushed goodness! :-p

    Popcorn is definitely my favorite crunchy, salty snack. I LOVE 479 Degrees Gourmet Popcorn in Black Truffle + White Cheddar. If you can get your hands on some, DO IT! And plain, air-popped popcorn dipped in peanut butter is amazing (and has serious staying power as well)!

    Thanks for the Twitter shout out Friday! I just saw it this afternoon…I’ve been a bit MIA in tweetland, but am planning a return soon! xoxo

  • I do like pretzels! Usually I get the honey wheat pretzel sticks and pair them with hummus so they have a bit more staying power. Moderation is totally key!

  • Yay–I’m going to love this series! I enjoy pretzels for dipping–but I certainly agree that they don’t offer any sort of satiety. I could eat an entire bag and still be hungry! Paired with hummus, they offer a bit more satisfaction. :)

  • I like them once in a great while. They dont fill me up so I think of them as empty calories. So I avoid them for the most part. If I need the crunch my favorite is just plain air popped popcorn. Its so good!

  • I wrote a comment for this post already (up above) and I would like to say that “BeautyRub” was a typo.

  • I do love pretzels, but they don’t satisfy me for very long so I try to stay away from them. In one of the many nutrition books I’ve read (can’t remember which one) it was pointed out that in the term “Enriched wheat flour”, the word “Enriched” means they’ve taken out all the nutrition. I thought that was funny and now I always watch for it.

  • I love pretzels but they are really too addicting for me to snack on. Plus, I agree with you in that they don’t fill me up. There are some whole grain pretzels out there, but I find that there are so many other snack options that work better for me anyway.

  • I love Sweet Potato Fries and WW Crackers with Peanut Butter. :)

  • Roz

    Great post. Love pretzels, but I don’t buy them because I find it REALLY hard to portion control. I REALLY like pop chips if I’m feeling like something “snacky”. My husband LOVES baked BBQ kettle chips, and I’ve been known to have a few of those too. I love your “everything in moderation approach”. Have a great weekend.

  • Oooh I love sweet potato fries!

  • I used to looove pretzels and eat them all the time – I think I burned myself out – now they’re kind of boring and I would much prefer something with more nutritional power that will also fill me up!

  • I like them once in awhile, but I will usually have popcorn before I’ll eat pretzels. I do love Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips and will sometimes have those instead of chips. Also, thanks for sharing healthier alternatives! I love chips but rarely have them because of their nutritional profile. It’s nice to have some suggestions for crispy snacks when the mood strikes.

  • I’m not a huge fan of pretzels… unless they’re dipped in chocolate :)

  • I agree – pretzels are definitely not a health food! I don’t know why people think that. I would rather have a chocolate bar – it’s roughly equally unhealthy but tastes much better :)

  • I’ve had those soy crisps! Those are easy to eat more than a serving of as well! haha

  • This is a great topic because so many people think of pretzels as a health food.
    I admit, I will snack on pretzels once and a while as well.
    But you are definitely right, they don’t hold you over. I am always looking for filling snacks so I don’t choose them too often.

  • I also enjoy pretzels once in a while and a while ago I found some at Whole Foods that have a reasonably nutritious label. They’re by Happy Herbert, and I tried the spelt ones. (http://bit.ly/h2oLLM). Even though they’re about the same calorie wise than the ones you mentioned above, they have a really simple ingredient list: organic spelt flour, organic canola oil, organic barley malt, salt, yeast, soda.) Sodium is still about the same as your average pretzel, but at least you’ve got whole grains!

  • I LOVE pretzels. That said, I literally don’t buy them, because I know I’ll munch my way through an entire bag. They don’t fill me up, even though I love them! :(

    I think my favorite substitute is Gensoy Soy Crisps! They’re salty and crunchy, low cal and low fat, but they pack enough protein to actually fill me up!

  • I totally agree with you. Pretzels aren’t satisfying at all. I won’t eat then anymore because it’s too easy to eat a whole bag. I almost did it before. Well, with the help of my sisters. But it was one of those big bags.

  • I’m ok with pretzels, but never really crave them…

    Usually, they’re most appreciated as part of a snack that is a sweet and salty combo… or chex mix…

  • Great series! My favorite chip like snack are the whole wheat pita chips with less than 5 ingredients! Or I make them myself from whole wheat pita! I am dying the try the sweet potato chips I posted today, they got great reviews on that recipe site! Michael loves the Newmans pretzels I buy. Yes, empty calories for the most part. However, there are like 3 ingredients in them, so it’s better than most alternatives!

    Have a great weekend!!!

  • I prefer nut and raisins as a snack. Pretzels beat out chips and candy but they don’t really beat REAL foods =) Great topic!

  • I’m with you…they just aren’t very satisfying to me. I do like the Newman’s Own Spelt pretzels though, they are whole grain and have protein and fiber! :)

  • Pretzels are my least favourite salty snack. They go stale before I can eat them. I love popcorn. Chips are okay too– but I usually prefer corn chips like tostitos or fritos. I find them more satisfying for just a few chips than potato chips are.

  • I have never been a big fan of pretzels ever. So thats good news! ha! Soft pretzels with jalapeno or cinnamon sugar are pretty good though! But I would definitely consider that a rare treat.

  • Pretzels are so-so with me. I like the little twists because you get a lot for one serving, but likeyou said..they’re not very nutritionally sound. They do make a ton of whole wheat varieties though..so I go for those when I can! Plus, whole wheat or not, they’re a much better alternative to chips.

  • Great post! I don’t why people would think the are healthy but I have had a lot of people say to me “well pretzels are healthy, right?” I don’t eat them unless they are an ingredient in something or it is literally the only thing available and I am starving. The salt makes me hungrier and like you said, they hardly tide you over for any time at all. Too bad they don’t have fruits and veggie vending machines! :)

  • I like pretzels! Right now we have a bag of unsalted pretzels in the house…I like using a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese (Swiss) as a dip, especially when I need a quick snack at school. It leaves me more full than if I were to eat the pretzels alone. Pretzels dipped in chocolate are good too…but we can save that for the holidays :)

  • Gen

    I like pretzels, but they never do keep me full! =P
    I like pita chips a lot!! Especially homemade ones!

  • I occasionally snack on pretzels although I agree that they don’t have a lot of nutritional value to add. My bigger concern is portion control so I would prefer to purchase single serving bags versus the bigger ones from the grocery store.

  • I really don’t like pretzels that much. Sometimes, I’ll have a bite of someone’s soft pretzel but not that often. I love sweet potato fries! Another favorite is the Multigrain flavor of Food Should Taste Good chips with guacamole to dip.

  • I actually don’t like them that much, but will mindlessly snack on them at parties if nothing better is around. Sometimes pairing them with salsa makes them a little more satisfying, but my better strategy is to hang out near the veggies.

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