Are Animal Crackers Healthy? 7 Things You Should Know

Are animal crackers a healthy snack option?

No, animal crackers are not a healthy snack option due to their lack of nutrients and addictive nature.

Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!

Ingredients to be cautious about

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Natural flavors
  • GMOs
  • Enriched wheat flour (actually white flour)

Possible short-term side effects

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Blood sugar spike

Possible long-term side effects

  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Sugar addiction
  • Metabolic syndrome

Healthy alternatives

  • Fresh fruit
  • Raw nuts
  • Vegetable sticks
  • Greek yogurt
  • Hummus

Did you know...? 🤔

Are animal crackers a healthy snack option?

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Are animal crackers actually “crackers”? Or nutritionally speaking, are they more like cookies? What are they, really? And are they bad for you? Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of all this—and I’ll start by giving you the short answer.

Animal crackers are not very healthy. They have about 7g of added sugar per serving, along with processed flour and processed vegetable oil. They don’t have much fiber, either. Compared to chips, animal crackers have less saturated fat and sodium, but they are about equally bad for you.

Below, I’ll take a close look at the ingredients and nutrition facts for animal crackers. I’ll compare the two most popular brands, Stauffer’s and Barnum’s, alongside popular chip brands like Fritos. And I’ll explore whether they’re good for weight loss, too!

Are Animal Crackers Good for You?

Here are the 7 specific questions I’ll be answering about animal cracker nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:

  1. What Are Animal Crackers Made Of?
  2. Are Animal Crackers High in Sugar?
  3. Are Animal Crackers High in Fiber?
  4. Are Animal Crackers High Glycemic?
  5. Are Animal Crackers High in Sodium?
  6. Are Animal Crackers Good for Weight Loss?
  7. Are Animal Crackers Healthier Than Chips?

1. What Are Animal Crackers Made Of?

Let’s start by looking at some actual animal cracker ingredients. Do they have any ingredients you should be avoiding? How processed are these crackers, really?

Here are the ingredients for two of the most popular brands of animal crackers:

Barnum’s Animal CrackersUnbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Sugar, Soybean And/Or Canola Oil, Yellow Corn Flour, Dextrose, Fructose, Calcium Carbonate (Source Of Calcium), Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Natural Flavor, Artificial Flavor.
Stauffer’s Animal CrackersEnriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Sugar, Soybean Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Baking Soda (For Leavening), Soy Lecithin (An Emulsifier), Natural Flavor, Spice.
Animal Cracker Ingredients

Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:

  • Animal crackers are made with processed white flour. When you read “enriched flour,” that may sound good. But notice what is missing from that name. “Whole” or “whole grain” is missing. This is processed flour, which is low in fiber, typically high on the glycemic index, and generally not great for health.
  • Animal crackers have processed vegetable oil. Stauffer’s has soybean oil, while Barnum’s has soybean and/or canola oil. These are highly processed oils that add empty calories and not many nutrients.
  • Animal crackers have added sugar and other sweeteners. Stauffer’s has high fructose corn syrup, while Barnum’s has fructose and dextrose in addition to the sugar. These all give you extra calories without many nutrients. They also raise the glycemic index and potentially spike your blood sugar.
  • Barnum’s and Stauffer’s have very similar ingredients. There is no clear winner as far as one having way better ingredients than the other. They are both mostly processed white flour with some oil and sugar, too.

Overall, the ingredients for animal crackers are not looking too great. The top 3 ingredients are processed flour, sugar, and oil.

That said, it’s not just the list of ingredients that matter. The quantity of each ingredient also matters. So next, let’s look at the actual amount of sugar, fiber, and other nutrients in animal crackers.

2. Are Animal Crackers High in Sugar?

Animal crackers have around 7g of sugar per serving of ~15 crackers (30g). That is about half the sugar found in a serving of Oreo cookies.

The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. But no added sugar is needed for human health. Really, the healthiest diet would likely just have some natural sugar from fruit and whole foods.

It would take 3.5 servings of animal crackers to reach the AHA’s suggested daily sugar limit for women, and 5 servings to reach the men’s limit. So it’s not like one serving is super unhealthy—but you could definitely overdo it, if you’re not careful.

Here’s a table showing the sugar content for Stauffer’s and Barnum’s:

BrandServing SizeSugar
Barnum’s Animal Crackers14 crackers (29g)7g
Stauffer’s Animal Crackers16 crackers (30g)7g
Animal Crackers: Sugar Content

Related Question:

  • Do Animal Crackers Have High Fructose Corn Syrup? Stauffer’s animal crackers have high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), but Barnum’s animal crackers do not. However, they both have the same amount of added sugars.
  • Can You Eat Animal Crackers on Keto? Most animal crackers are not low carb or keto-friendly. They have about 24 grams of carbs per serving (~15 crackers). About 70% to 80% of the calories in animal crackers come from carbs.

3. Are Animal Crackers High in Fiber?

Animal crackers tend to be quite low in fiber. Depending on the brand, they usually have 0g or 1g of fiber per serving of ~15 crackers.

Why are animal crackers so low in fiber? It has to do with the kind of flour they use. The main ingredient in animal crackers is “enriched flour” or “unbleached enriched flour” This is a processed flour, which has had much of its fiber removed.

Some other kinds of “crackers,” like Wheat Thins, actually use whole grain wheat as the main ingredient. So there ‘s a bit more fiber in those.

Here is a table showing the fiber content of animal crackers:

BrandServing SizeFiber
Barnum’s Animal Crackers14 crackers (29g)0g
Stauffer’s Animal Crackers16 crackers (30g)1g
Animal Crackers: Fiber Content

In my opinion, this is one of the big failings of animal crackers. If you could find “whole wheat” animal crackers, they might be significantly healthier. But most animal crackers are not made with whole grains.

Most people don’t eat enough fiber, and it’s a big key to improving your nutrition. But if you’re on a low-fiber diet for any specific reason, then I suppose it could be a plus.

4. Are Animal Crackers High Glycemic?

I was unable to find any peer-reviewed research directly on the glycemic index of animal crackers. However, crackers that are low in fiber are typically high-glycemic foods. And most animal crackers don’t have any significant amount of fiber (as covered above).

Most brands of animal crackers are made with white flour, they have added sugar, and they don’t have much fiber at all. Generally speaking, that’s a recipe for a high-GI food.

Therefore, we can probably safely assume animal crackers are high glycemic.

So, do animal crackers raise blood sugar? Yes, you should expect animal crackers to raise blood sugar levels for most people. At the very least, you should take caution with animal crackers if blood-sugar control is important to you.

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5. Are Animal Crackers High in Sodium?

Most brands of animal crackers have a low to moderate amount of sodium, with 85mg to 105mg per serving (~15 crackers). That’s about the same as a handful (1 oz) of Planters Salted Cocktail Peanuts (100mg of sodium).

As you can see, Barnum’s is a bit lower in sodium than Stauffer’s animal crackers:

BrandServing SizeSodium
Barnum’s Animal Crackers14 crackers (29g)85mg
Stauffer’s Animal Crackers16 crackers (30g)105mg
Animal Crackers: Sodium Content

Eating too much sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. So, be mindful of how your sodium content can add up while eating many servings of snacks.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your sodium intake to 2,300mg per day, which is about 22 to 27 servings of animal crackers, depending on the brand. However, the AHA is “moving toward an ideal limit” of 1,500mg per day, which is about 14 to 18 servings of animal crackers.

[Related post: Are Goldfish Healthy? 10 Things You Should Know]

6. Are Animal Crackers Good for Weight Loss?

Animal crackers are not the most optimal food for weight loss. This is because they contain processed, high-calorie ingredients such as vegetable oil, refined flour, and refined sugar. However, animal crackers can still be eaten in moderation on a weight loss diet.

One of the most important principles for weight loss is calorie density. Foods with a low calorie density fill up your stomach more with fewer calories. This makes it easier to eat fewer calories and still be satisfied. And that can help you with weight loss. (source)

The foods with the lowest calorie density are non-starchy vegetables, including greens. Other foods with low calorie density include fruits, beans, whole grains, and most whole plant foods in general.

Some of the foods with the highest calorie density are refined oils. And refined sugars and flours have high calorie density, too. These foods are concentrated sources of calories. And animal crackers have several such ingredients.

Another thing to consider is the relative lack of fiber in animal crackers. Other snacks could help fill you up with more fiber, likely keeping you better satisfied on a weight-loss diet.

But by itself, a few servings of animal crackers will not ruin your weight loss diet. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.

If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating each day/week, you should lose weight. Eating some animal crackers or other processed foods on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet.

For more help with weight loss, check out this post with 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.

8. Are Animal Crackers Healthier Than Chips?

Animal crackers have a much higher sugar content than most chips. However, they have less saturated fat and less sodium. Therefore, it’s really hard to declare which one is healthier. Animal crackers and chips are both generally unhealthy snacks.

Here is a table showing some nutrition facts for animal crackers compared to popular chip brands:

SnackServing SizeSat. FatSodiumSugarFiber
Barnum’s Animal Crackers14 crackers (29g)0g85mg7g0g
Stauffer’s Animal Crackers16 crackers (30g)0g105mg7g1g
Lays Classic15 chips (28g)1.5g170mg<1g1g
Fritos Original32 chips (28g)1.5g170mg0g1g
Tostitos Scoops13 chips (28g)1g120mg0g2g
Doritos Nacho Cheese12 chips (28g)1g210mg1g1g
Are Animal Crackers Healthier Than Chips?

Overall, I would not say that animal crackers are notably better or worse than chips. They are bad in different ways. Animal crackers are higher in sugar, but chips are higher in saturated fat and salt. The simple fact is that neither one is really healthy.

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