Are Goldfish Healthy? 10 Things You Should Know

Is owning a goldfish a healthy choice for a pet?

No, owning a goldfish as a pet is not healthy based solely on this given context as it discusses the potential harm caused by consuming Goldfish crackers.

Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!

Ingredients to be cautious about

  • MSG
  • Sodium
  • GMO soybean oil

Possible short-term side effects

  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea

Possible long-term side effects

  • Infertility problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart complications
  • Cancer
  • Liver complications
  • Cognitive degeneration

Healthy alternatives

  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Kale chips
  • Whole grain crackers

Did you know...? 🤔

Is owning a goldfish a healthy choice for a pet?

Does owning a goldfish cause short term side effects?

Can owning a goldfish cause long term health complications?

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Did you know: There are 142 billion Goldfish crackers made every year. But what are the health ramifications of this popular, fish-shaped cracker? Today, let’s take a closer look at Goldfish nutrition.

Some people consider Goldfish to be a healthy snack, as they have real cheese, no sugar, and no artificial colors. However, two of the main ingredients are processed white flour and vegetable oil, and each serving has less than 1g of fiber. So, Goldfish are still not very healthy.

Below, we’ll review the ingredients and nutrition facts for Goldfish Crackers. I’ll compare them with other popular snacks (like Cheez-Its and chips), and we’ll explore whether they’re good for weight loss, too!

Are Goldfish Bad for You?

Here are the 10 specific questions we’ll answer about Goldfish nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead—or just keep scrolling to read them all:

  1. What Are Goldfish Made Of?
  2. Are Goldfish High Glycemic?
  3. Are Goldfish Good for Weight Loss?
  4. Are Goldfish High in Carbs?
  5. Are Goldfish High in Fiber?
  6. Are Goldfish High in Sodium?
  7. Are Goldfish Fried or Baked?
  8. Are Goldfish “Processed Food”?
  9. Are Goldfish Healthier Than Chips?
  10. Are Goldfish Vegan?

1. What Are Goldfish Made Of?

Let’s start by looking at some actual Goldfish ingredients. Do they contain anything you should be avoiding?

Cheddar Goldfish Ingredients: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Cheddar Cheese ([Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes], Annatto), Canola And/Or Sunflower Oils, Contains 2 Percent Or Less Of: Salt, Yeast, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate, Paprika, Spices, Celery, Onion Powder.

Here’s what I noticed about these ingredients:

  • Goldfish are made with processed white flour. When you read “enriched wheat 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.
  • Goldfish have processed vegetable oil. The canola and/or sunflower oils in Goldfish are highly processed, adding empty calories. Such oils are pretty standard in any snack cracker, but they’re not the healthiest thing.
  • Goldfish are made with real cheese. Many people consider this positive… But is it? Cheese is high in saturated fat and sodium, which could potentially raise heart disease risk. Cheese has calcium, but Goldfish end up with barely any calcium (only 40mg per serving). I’d count the cheese in Goldfish as neutral at best.
  • Goldfish are free of sugar. Many crackers and other snacks are loaded with sugar. So in contrast, we can admire that Goldfish are sugar free. But could Goldfish still raise your blood sugar? See below for a discussion of glycemic index.
  • Goldfish are free of artificial colors. Goldfish do not have red or yellow dye. They do have paprika, which is a spice that helps with that orange color. But hey, it’s a natural, healthy coloring ingredient. Goldfish don’t have dyes like Red 40 or Yellow 5.

So, what are the “bad ingredients” in Goldfish? 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 Goldfish.

2. Are Goldfish High Glycemic?

Glycemic index refers to how much a source of carbs spikes your blood sugar. I was unable to find peer-reviewed research directly on Goldfish 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 Goldfish don’t have any significant fiber content (as covered below).

The carbs in Goldfish come primarily from enriched flour, which is a high-glycemic ingredient. Therefore, we can likely assume that Goldfish would test as a high-glycemic food, or at least medium.

If blood-sugar control is important for you, I’d advise to take caution with Goldfish.

3. Are Goldfish Good for Weight Loss?

Goldfish 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 Goldfish a relatively high calorie density. However, Goldfish can be eaten in moderation on a weight-loss diet.

One of the most important principles for weight loss is calorie density. High calorie density foods tend to be easier to overeat, as you need to eat a lot of calories to fill your stomach. (source)

One of the foods with the highest calorie density is vegetable oil. Refined sugars and flours have high calorie density, too. These processed 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 (such as the cheese in Goldfish) also tend to be high in calories, largely due to their fat content.

Goldfish 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 low fiber in Goldfish. Other snacks could help fill you up with more fiber and keep you better satisfied on a weight-loss diet.

As covered above, Goldfish 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 Goldfish make you fat? Yes, they could contribute to weight gain. But by itself, a few servings of Goldfish won’t ruin your 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 Goldfish or other “processed foods” on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet, as long as the overall calorie deficit is in tact.

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

Related Questions:

  • How many calories are in a single Goldfish cracker? Each Goldfish cracker has about two and a half calories. (Each serving is 55 Goldfish crackers, which is 140 calories.)
  • How many calories is in a whole bag of Goldfish? It depends on the size of the package. A small 1 oz bag of Goldfish has 130 calories. The popular 6.6 oz bags of Goldfish have around 870 calories. A 30 oz carton of Goldfish has about 3,920 calories.

4. Are Goldfish High in Carbs?

Goldfish have 20 grams of carbs per serving, which is pretty high. The carb content of Goldfish is similar to Cheez-Its and other crackers. The main ingredient in Goldfish is enriched flour, which is a rich in carbs. However, Goldfish have 0 grams of sugar per serving.

Here’s a table showing the sugar and carb content for Goldfish, compared to other snacks:

SnackServing SizeTotal SugarTotal Carbs
Goldfish55 pieces (30g)0g20g
Cheez-It27 crackers (30g)0g17g
Wheat Thins16 pieces (31g)5g22g
Triscuits6 crackers (28g)0g20g
Goldfish Carbohydrate Content, Compared to Other Crackers.

Related Question:

  • Do Goldfish have high fructose corn syrup? Goldfish do not have high fructose corn syrup. In fact, they do not have any added sugar or sweetener. Goldfish have 0g of total sugar per serving.
  • Can you eat Goldfish on keto? Goldfish are not particularly low carb or keto-friendly, with 20 grams of carbs per serving. About 57% of the calories in Goldfish come from carbs.

5. Are Goldfish High in Fiber?

Goldfish are low in fiber, with less than 1g of fiber per serving. The popular Cheddar Goldfish are not made with whole-grain flour, but with “enriched flour.” This flour is processed and has most of its fiber removed.

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 Goldfish, compared to other snack crackers:

SnackServing SizeFiber
Goldfish55 pieces (30g)<1g
Cheez-It27 crackers (30g)<1g
Wheat Thins16 pieces (31g)3g
Triscuits6 crackers (28g)3g
Goldfish Fiber Content, Compared to Other Crackers.

In my opinion, this is one of the big failings of Goldfish. 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.

6. Are Goldfish High in Sodium?

Goldfish have a moderate amount of sodium, with 250mg per serving (of 55 crackers). That’s about the same sodium content as a serving of Cheez-It crackers or Wheat Thins.

Here’s a table showing the sodium content of Goldfish, compared to other crackers:

SnackServing SizeSodium
Goldfish55 pieces (30g)250mg
Cheez-It27 crackers (30g)230mg
Wheat Thins16 pieces (31g)200mg
Triscuits6 crackers (28g)160mg
Goldfish Sodium Content, Compared to Other Crackers.

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 9 servings of Goldfish. However, the AHA is “moving toward an ideal limit” of 1,500mg per day, which is only 6 servings of Goldfish.

Note: You may be able to find a Low Sodium flavor of Goldfish. I was able to find a picture of an old Goldfish package that said, “30% Less Sodium.” However, this product doesn’t seem to be widely available in stores.

7. Are Goldfish Fried or Baked?

Goldfish are baked, not fried. However, Goldfish still contain processed vegetable oil. They are not a fat-free food.

Many people understand that baking is healthier than frying because less oil can be used. But don’t assume too much. Goldfish still have 5 grams of total fat per serving. About a third of the calories in Goldfish come from fat.

Related Questions:

  • What kind of oil is in Goldfish? Goldfish contain vegetable oil. The ingredients list specifies that it could contain “canola oil and/or sunflower oils.”
  • What kind of fat is in Goldfish? Goldfish have both saturated and unsaturated fat, but most of the fat is unsaturated, with only 1g of saturated fat per serving (and no trans fat).

8. Are Goldfish “Processed Food”?

It’s commonly 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, 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.

Goldfish do have real cheese made from skim milk… But the other main ingredients are processed flour and vegetable oil. Notice that the first ingredient in Goldfish is “enriched wheat flour,” not whole wheat.

It’s debatable whether Goldfish would count as “junk food” or “ultra processed,” but they are clearly processed food, at least.

9. Are Goldfish Healthier Than Chips?

Goldfish are about equally as unhealthy as popular chips like Lays, Fritos, and Doritos. Goldfish have about equal amounts of saturated fat, sugar, and fiber as popular brands of chips. In addition, Goldfish are slightly higher in sodium than most chips.

Here is a table showing some nutrition facts for Goldfish compared to various chip brands. You’ll notice that in all these areas, Goldfish looks pretty similar to chips:

SnackServing SizeSat. FatSodiumSugarFiber
Cheddar Goldfish55 pieces (30g)1g250mg0g<1g
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 Goldfish Better for You Than Chips?

The biggest difference is the specific ingredients used. Most chips are made with processed corn or potatoes, but Goldfish are made with processed wheat. Goldfish also have some real cheese—but not enough to dramatically change its nutrition profile.

Overall, Goldfish are not much better or worse than chips, nutritionally. Neither are particularly healthy snacks.

10. Are Goldfish Vegan?

Cheddar Goldfish are not vegan, as they contain real cheese. However, Pepperidge Farms has offered some other flavors of Goldfish that are vegan, including Cinnamon.

There are also some brands that make vegan “cheese” crackers with a similar taste and appearance as Goldfish:

And here are some more vegan “cheese” crackers, based more closely off of Cheez-Its:

Related Question:

  • Do Goldfish contain eggs? Goldfish do not contain eggs.
  • Do Goldfish contain pork? Goldfish do not contain pork.

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.

2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).