Some people think Cheez-Its are healthy just because they have “real cheese.” But cheesecake has real cheese, too—and nobody thinks cheesecake is healthy. So, today let’s take a closer look: Are Cheez-Its actually healthy?
Cheez-Its are not the healthiest snack. The two main ingredients are processed white flour and vegetable oil, and each serving has less than 1g of fiber. Cheez-Its also have TBHQ, a controversial food preservative linked to tumors and paralysis in some animal studies.
Below, I’ll take a close look at the ingredients and nutrition facts for Cheez-It Crackers. I’ll compare them with other popular snacks (like Goldfish), and we’ll explore whether they’re good for weight loss, too!
Are Cheez-Its Good for You?
Here are the 12 specific questions we’ll answer about Cheez-Its nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are Cheez-Its Made Of?
- Are Cheez-Its High in Carbs?
- Are Cheez-Its High in Fiber?
- Are Cheez-Its High in Sodium?
- Are Cheez-Its High Glycemic?
- Are Cheez-Its Fried or Baked?
- Are Cheez-Its Good for Weight Loss?
- Are Cheez-Its “Processed Food”?
- Are Cheez-Its Healthier Than Goldfish?
- Are Cheez-Its Healthier Than Chips?
- Are Reduced Fat Cheez-Its Healthy?
- Are Cheez-Its Vegan?
1. What Are Cheez-Its Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at some actual Cheez-Its ingredients. Do they contain anything you should be avoiding?
Cheez-It Original Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), vegetable oil (high oleic soybean, soybean, palm, and/or canola oil with TBHQ for freshness), cheese made with skim milk (skim milk, whey protein, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes, annatto extract color). Contains 2% or less of salt, paprika, yeast, paprika extract color, soy lecithin. (source)
Here’s what I noticed about these ingredients:
- Cheez-Its are made with processed white flour. When you read “enriched flour,” it may sound good. But notice what’s missing from that name: “whole” or “whole grain.” This is processed flour. It’s low in fiber, typically high on the glycemic index, and generally not great for health.
- Cheez-Its have processed vegetable oil. These highly processed oils add empty calories, and some of these oils add saturated fat, too. Even if you get Reduced Fat Cheez-Its, they only have about 25% less total fat. So there’s still plenty of oil.
- Cheez-Its have TBHQ. TBHQ is a controversial preservative used with the oil in Cheez-Its. It’s FDA approved, but some people have reported “vision disturbances” linked to TBHQ. Animal studies have shown side effects like tumors, liver enlargement, convulsions, and paralysis. (source)
- Cheez-Its are made with real cheese. Many people consider this positive… but is it? Cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, which could raise heart disease risk. Cheese has calcium, but Cheez-Its end up with barely any calcium (only 30mg per serving). I’d count the real cheese in Cheez-Its as a neutral point, at best.
- Cheez-Its are free of sugar. Many crackers are loaded with sugar. So in contrast, we can at least admire that Cheez-Its are sugar free. But could Cheez-Its still raise your blood sugar? See below for a discussion of glycemic index.
- Cheez-Its are free of artificial colors. Cheez-Its do not contain red dye. They do have paprika, which is a spice that helps with that deep orange color. But hey, at least it’s a natural, healthy coloring ingredient. Cheez-Its don’t have dyes like Red 40 or Yellow 5.
So, what are the “bad ingredients” in Cheez-Its? Well, processed flour and oil, mostly. They give you calories without many nutrients. That’s classic “processed food” for you.
That said, it’s not just the list of ingredients that matter. The quantity of each ingredient also matters. So in the next sections, let’s look at the actual amount of carbs, fiber, sodium, and other nutrients in Cheez-Its.
- Do Cheez-Its contain butane? Cheez-Its do not contain butane. They have the preservative TBHQ, which has a “butyl” group in its chemical make-up. But this is not the same as butane, and it is not toxic to consume in small amounts. Refer to Snopes for more on this.
2. Are Cheez-Its High in Carbs?
Cheez-Its have about 17 grams of carbs per serving, which is pretty high. The carb content of Cheez-Its is similar to Goldfish and other snack crackers. The main ingredient in Cheez-Its is enriched flour, which is a rich in carbs. However, Cheez-Its have no sugar.
Here’s a table showing the sugar and carb content for Cheez-Its, compared to Goldfish and other snacks:
|Snack||Serving Size||Total Sugar||Total Carbs|
|Cheez-It||27 crackers (30g)||0g||17g|
|Goldfish||55 pieces (30g)||<1g||20g|
|Wheat Thins||16 pieces (31g)||5g||22g|
|Triscuits||6 crackers (28g)||0g||20g|
Cheez-Its are the lowest in carbs here—but it’s not enough to make a significant difference for most low-carb dieters and others tightly controlling their carb intake. That said, Cheez-Its at least avoid the sugar content that Wheat Thins have.
- Do Cheez-Its Have High Fructose Corn Syrup? Cheez-Its do not contain high fructose corn syrup. In fact, they do not have any added sugar or sweetener at all. Cheez-Its have 0g of total sugar per serving.
- Can You Eat Cheez-Its on Keto? Cheez-Its are not particularly low carb or keto-friendly, with 17 grams of carbs per serving. About 45% of the calories in Cheez-Its come from carbs.
3. Are Cheez-Its High in Fiber?
Cheez-Its are low in fiber, with less than 1g of fiber per serving. Cheez-Its are not made with whole-grain flour, but with “enriched flour,” which is processed and has most of its fiber removed. This makes Cheez-It crackers generally less healthy.
Some other cracker brands, like Triscuits, actually use whole grain wheat as their main ingredient. So there’s a bit more fiber in those (about 3 grams per serving).
Here is a table showing the fiber content of Cheez-Its, compared to other snack crackers:
|Cheez-It||27 crackers (30g)||<1g|
|Goldfish||55 pieces (30g)||<1g|
|Wheat Thins||16 pieces (31g)||3g|
|Triscuits||6 crackers (28g)||3g|
In my opinion, this is one of the big failings of Cheez-Its. Most people don’t eat enough fiber, and it’s a big key to improving your nutrition. That said—if you’re on a low-fiber diet for any specific reason, then it could be a plus.
4. Are Cheez-Its High in Sodium?
Cheez-Its have a moderate amount of sodium, with 230mg per serving (of 27 crackers). That’s about the same sodium content as a serving of Goldfish crackers or Wheat Thins. Currently, a low-sodium flavor of Cheez-Its is not available.
Here’s a table showing the sodium content of Cheez-Its, compared to other crackers:
|Cheez-It||27 crackers (30g)||230mg|
|Goldfish||55 pieces (30g)||230mg|
|Wheat Thins||16 pieces (31g)||200mg|
|Triscuits||6 crackers (28g)||160mg|
As you can see, all these crackers are pretty similar when it comes to sodium. But Triscuits are a little better—and they are a bit of a healthier cracker overall, with more fiber, too. See my review of Triscuits here.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your sodium intake to 2,300mg per day, which is about 10 servings of Cheez-Its. However, the AHA is “moving toward an ideal limit” of 1,500mg per day, which is only 6 and a half servings of Cheez-Its.
You might be tempted to check if Reduced Fat Cheez-Its are any lower in sodium… but unfortunately, they’re not. In fact, they have slightly more sodium than Original Cheez-Its, with 250mg per serving.
5. Are Cheez-Its High Glycemic?
Glycemic index refers to how dramatically a source of carbs spikes your blood sugar. I was unable to find peer-reviewed research directly on Cheez-Its glycemic index. However, we can make some inferences here.
As reported by Harvard Health, “most crackers” qualify as high-glycemic foods. Some high-fiber crackers may be exceptions from this… But Cheez-Its don’t have any significant fiber content (as covered above).
The carbs in Cheez-Its come primarily from enriched flour, which is a high-glycemic ingredient.
Therefore, we can likely assume that Cheez-Its would test as a high-glycemic food. At the very least, I’d advise to take caution with Cheez-Its, if blood-sugar control is important to you.
6. Are Cheez-Its Fried or Baked?
Cheez-Its are baked, not fried. However, Cheez-Its still contain processed vegetable oil. They are not a low-fat food.
Many people understand that baking is healthier than frying because less oil can be used. But don’t assume too much. Cheez-Its still have 8 grams of total fat per serving, a good portion of which comes from the oil. Almost half of the calories in Cheez-Its come from fat.
If you’d like to go for a lower-fat option, you can get Reduced Fat Cheez-Its. They have about 25% less fat than the Original flavor, with 6g of total fat per serving.
- What kind of oil is in Cheez-Its? Cheez-Its contain vegetable oil. The ingredients list specifies that it could contain “high oleic soybean, soybean, palm, and/or canola oil.”
- What kind of fat is in Cheez-Its? Cheez-Its have both saturated and unsaturated fat. But most of the fat is unsaturated, with about 4g of polyunsaturated, 2g of monounsaturated, and 1.5g of saturated fat per serving.
7. Are Cheez-Its Good for Weight Loss?
Cheez-Its are not the best food for weight loss, as they have multiple high-calorie ingredients like enriched flour, vegetable oil, and cheese. These ingredients give Cheez-Its a high calorie density. However, Cheez-Its 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 low calorie density fill up your stomach with fewer calories. This makes it easier to eat fewer calories and be satisfied. In contrast, high calorie density foods can be easier to overeat. (source)
One of the foods with the highest calorie density is vegetable oil. Refined sugars and flours have high calorie density, too. These foods are concentrated sources of calories, as much of the fiber and bulk have been removed in processing.
Animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy also tend to be high in calories, due to their high fat content.
Cheez-Its have several ingredients with a high calorie density—vegetable oil, flour, and cheese—so there is a risk of overeating them.
Another thing to consider is the relative lack of fiber in Cheez-Its. Other snacks could help fill you up with more fiber and keep you better satisfied on a weight-loss diet.
As covered above, Cheez-Its likely rank high on the glycemic index, meaning their carbs are quick to digest. Foods with more fiber and lower GI scores could help you to stay full longer, without needing to keep eating more throughout the day.
So, can Cheez-Its make you fat? Yes, they could contribute to weight gain. But by itself, a few servings of Cheez-Its will not ruin your weight loss diet, either. 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 Cheez-Its or other “processed foods” on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet, as long as the overall calorie deficit remains in tact.
For more help with weight loss, check out this post with 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.
- How many calories are in one Cheez-It? Each Cheez-It cracker contains about five and a half calories.
- How many calories is a whole box of Cheez-Its? It depends on the size of the box. A 21 oz “Family Size” box of Cheez-Its contains about 3,000 calories.
8. Are Cheez-Its “Processed Food”?
It’s widely understood today that healthy food tends to be minimally processed. When we eat food in its more natural forms, we get more nutrients and fiber than if it’s been processed into flour, flakes, syrup, or oil.
The term “processed food” is not very precise, though. Technically, even if you just cut a banana in half, you’ve “processed” it. But that’s not what most people mean when they say “processed food.”
In practical terms, the easiest way to spot “processed food” today is to check the ingredients list for refined oils, sugars, flours, artificial ingredients (sweeteners, colors, additives), or lots of salt.
Cheez-Its do have real cheese made from skim milk… But they also have processed flour and vegetable oil as the main ingredients. It’s debate-able whether Cheez-Its count as “junk food” or “ultra processed,” but they are clearly processed food, at least.
9. Are Cheez-Its Healthier Than Goldfish?
Cheez-Its and Goldfish crackers are about equally unhealthy. Cheez-Its and Goldfish have almost exactly the same amount of sodium, sugar, and fiber. However, Goldfish only have 1/3 of the saturated fat as Cheez-Its, so Goldfish may be slightly healthier on that count. Neither cracker is very healthy.
Here’s a table comparing the Original flavors of Cheez-Its and Goldfish in several key nutrition areas:
|Snack||Serving Size||Sat. Fat||Sodium||Sugar||Fiber|
|Cheez-Its (Original)||27 crackers (30g)||1.5g||230mg||0g||<1g|
|Goldfish (Original)||55 pieces (30g)||0.5g||230mg||<1g||<1g|
As you can see, these crackers are very similar nutritionally, with the exception that Cheez-Its are higher in saturated fat. Most health authorities recommend limiting saturated fat, so this may be a small point for Goldfish.
Cheez-Its and Goldfish have very similar ingredients, too. They’re both mostly made of processed flour and oil. But Cheez-Its may have a bit more milk/cheese content. How do we know that?
In the Cheez-It ingredients, the cheese is listed before the “2% or less” mark. But in Goldfish, the nonfat milk comes after the “2% or less” mark. Also, the lower saturated fat content in Goldfish is likely due to having less dairy fat.
So, there may be more dairy in Cheez-Its than Goldfish. But in any case, the nutritional profile is very similar between these two snack crackers. And neither one is very healthy.
Note: There are different flavors of both Cheez-Its and Goldfish. So, please take that into consideration. The comparison could look different if you choose a Whole Grain flavor of Goldfish, for example.
10. Are Cheez-Its Healthier Than Chips?
Cheez-Its are about equally as unhealthy as popular chips like Lays, Fritos, and Doritos. Cheez-Its have about equal amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and fiber as popular brands of chips. In addition, Cheez-Its are slightly higher in sodium than most chips.
Here is a table showing some nutrition facts for Cheez-Its compared to various chip brands. You’ll notice that in all these areas, Cheez-Its looks pretty similar to chips:
|Snack||Serving Size||Sat. Fat||Sodium||Sugar||Fiber|
|Cheez-Its Original||27 crackers (30g)||1.5g||230mg||0g||<1g|
|Lays Classic||15 chips (28g)||1.5g||170mg||<1g||1g|
|Fritos Original||32 chips (28g)||1.5g||170mg||0g||1g|
|Tostitos Scoops||13 chips (28g)||1g||120mg||0g||2g|
|Doritos Nacho Cheese||12 chips (28g)||1g||210mg||1g||1g|
The biggest difference is just the ingredients. Most chips are made with corn or potatoes, but Cheez-Its are made with wheat. Cheez-Its also have some real cheese—but not enough to dramatically change its nutrition profile.
Overall, Cheez-Its are not much better or worse than chips. Neither are particularly healthy snacks.
11. Are Reduced Fat Cheez-Its Healthy?
Reduced Fat Cheez-Its are not very healthy. They have the same ingredients as Original Cheez-Its, in basically the same order. Reduced Fat Cheez-Its simply have about 25% less total fat, with slightly more carbs and sodium instead.
Compared to Original Cheez-Its, each serving of Reduced Fat Cheez-Its has about:
- 10 fewer calories
- 2g less fat
- 2g more total carbs
- 20mg more sodium
Overall, Reduced Fat Cheeze-Its may be slightly healthier than Original Cheez-Its… But the difference is not significant. They are both mostly made of processed flour and oil, with almost no fiber.
12. Are Cheez-Its Vegan?
Cheez-Its are not vegan, as they contain real cheese, made from skim milk. However, there are some brands that make vegan crackers with a similar taste and appearance as Cheez-Its:
- My #1 Choice: Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares
- Plant Snacks Vegan Cheddar Cassava Root Chips
- From the Ground Up: Cauliflower Crackers Cheddar Flavor
- Every Body Eat: Cheese-Less Snack Thins
- Do Cheez-Its contain eggs? Cheez-Its do not contain eggs.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
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