You are what you eat

19:07, Nov 12 2012

If you read the front of the packet of Peckish Thins, you would think they are considerably different from all other rice crackers. They claim to be lighter, thinner and crispier, baked not fried, gluten free and contain no trans fats. Does it mean they are healthier than the competition?

Rice crackers are gluten free as the flour used is rice flour, not wheat flour.

The Peckish range of rice crackers probably can be described as lighter, thinner and crispier than other rice crackers but, in my opinion, this makes them even easier to over eat. After a couple, you want to eat more. They aren't as filling as a bigger, thicker, wholegrain cracker. However, rice crackers tend to be eaten like potato crisps (ie: several at a time with no toppings) and, when compared with potato crisps, they are a healthier option.

Peckish Thins come in a range of eight flavours and all have four or five artificial additives, identified by an "E number, which describes the type of artificial flavour, colour or stabiliser used. All these additives are considered safe by the food safety authority.

Yes, Peckish Thins are low in fat, including trans fat, and low in sugar. All flavours have a moderate salt content. But this is true of most rice crackers, so the short answer is they are no healthier than any other rice crackers.

Peckish Thins and all rice crackers (even the range made from brown rice) do not contain significant amounts of fibre. Some wholegrain crackers on the market have more fibre than wholemeal bread.

In summary, I recommend eating a handful (about five) of rice crackers occasionally, instead of potato crisps, but don't snack on them every day. Less processed foods make better between meal snacks - fruit and raw veges, plain nuts, wholegrain breads and the thicker, wholegrain crackers with toppings like sliced tomato, avocado, Vegemite, chutney, and cottage cheese.

Written by Jill Nicholls NZ Registered Dietitian.


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