Did you know Wheat Thins are banned in Japan? Seriously! They are one of the most popular snacks in the U.S., but they can’t even be sold in Japan. Why is that? What “illegal ingredient” do they have, and what else should you know? Are Wheat Thins healthy overall?
Wheat Thins are made with whole grain wheat flour, so they have more fiber than most crackers. However, Wheat Thins also contain highly processed ingredients such as canola oil and refined sugar. Furthermore, Wheat Thins have been banned in several countries due to using the preservative BHT.
Below, I’ll look at four popular Wheat Thins flavors in detail. I’ll compare them to snacks like Ritz crackers, Triscuits, and pretzels. I’ll explore if Wheat Thins are good for weight loss and bodybuilding. And of course, I’ll explain in detail why Wheat Thins are banned in some countries!
Are Wheat Thins Good for You?
Here are the ten specific questions I’ll be answering about Wheat Thins nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are Wheat Thins Made Of?
- Are Wheat Thins Processed Food?
- Are Wheat Thins Good for Weight Loss?
- Are Wheat Thins High in Fiber?
- Are Wheat Thins High in Cholesterol?
- Are Wheat Thins Fried or Baked?
- Are Wheat Thins Low Carb?
- Why Are Wheat Thins Banned in Other Countries?
- Are Wheat Thins Good for Bodybuilding?
- Are Wheat Thins Vegan?
1. What Are Wheat Thins Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at some actual Wheat Thins ingredients. Do they have any ingredients you should be avoiding? How processed are these delicious crackers, really?
Below are the ingredients for four popular flavors of Wheat Thins. I’ll share my takeaway points below the table:
|Wheat Thins Flavor||Ingredients|
|Original Wheat Thins||Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Canola Oil, Sugar, Cornstarch, Malt Syrup (From Corn And Barley), Salt, Refiner’s Syrup, Leavening (Calcium Phosphate And Baking Soda). BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.|
|Reduced Fat Wheat Thins||Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Sugar, Canola Oil, Cornstarch, Malt Syrup (From Corn And Barley), Salt, Refiner’s Syrup, Leavening (Calcium Phosphate And Baking Soda). BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.|
|Sundried Tomato & Basil Wheat Thins||Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Canola Oil, Sugar, Cornstarch, Malt Syrup (From Corn And Barley), Refiner’s Syrup, Salt, Leavening (Calcium Phosphate And Baking Soda), Tomato Powder, Sundried Tomato Powder, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Spices (Includes Basil), Onion Powder, Dried Red And Green Bell Peppers, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor (Contains Celery), Sulfur Dioxide (Sulfites) To Preserve Freshness. BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.|
|Multigrain Wheat Thins||Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid), Whole Grain Barley Flakes, Canola Oil, Sugar, Whole Grain Rye, Whole Grain Triticale, Molasses, Whole Grain Millet, Whole Grain Wheat, Salt, Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Onion Powder, Soy Lecithin, Leavening (Baking Soda And/Or Calcium Phosphate). BHT added to packaging material to preserve freshness.|
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Wheat Thins are made with whole grain wheat flour. The first ingredient for all these flavors is whole grain wheat flour. This is higher in fiber and nutrients than the more processed flours in many crackers. Keep in mind, the Multigrain flavor also has other flours, including whole grains and the more processed “Unbleached Enriched Flour.”
- Wheat Thins have canola oil. Vegetable oils are highly processed, high in calories, and low in nutrients. And this applies to canola oil, which is found in Wheat Thins. However, the Reduced Fat flavor has less canola oil, with 25% less fat than Original flavor.
- Wheat Thins have added sugar and other sweeteners. All these Wheat Thins have added sugar. You’ll also find high-glycemic ingredients like “malt syrup,” “refiner’s syrup,” “molasses,” and “cornstarch” in most. Most flavors have 4g of added sugar per serving. For a lower-sugar option, the Multigrain flavor only has 2g of added sugar per serving.
- Wheat Thins have added salt. There’s around 200mg of sodium per serving in most Wheat Thins. That seems a little high to me, although it’s maybe to be expected in snack crackers. If you’re looking for a low-sodium option, the Hint of Salt flavor only has 55mg per serving.
- Wheat Thins’ packaging has BHT. BHT may or may not be harmful—but some countries have banned it out of caution. Research suggests it may be possible for excess BHT to mess with your hormones. And there are potential cancer concerns at high levels, too. That said, BHT may even have anti-cancer effects at low levels. Read more about it below.
Overall, Wheat Thins can be sold as a “whole grain” cracker due to the whole grain flour used… But many of the other ingredients are not great for you. Wheat Thins have refined oil, sugar, and added salt, just like most snack crackers.
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2. Are Wheat Thins Processed Food?
It’s widely understood today that healthy food tends to be only minimally processed. When we eat food in its more natural forms, we typically get many more nutrients than if it’s been processed into flour, flakes, syrup, or oil.
The term “processed food” is a bit imprecise, though. Technically, even if you just cut a carrot in half, you’ve “processed” it. But that’s not what most people mean when they say “processed food.”
Identifying “processed food” can also be tricky with snacks like Wheat Thins, where one of the main ingredients is healthy (like whole grain wheat flour). The problem is that just having 1 healthy ingredient doesn’t mean a food isn’t highly processed overall.
To clarify what I mean, let’s imagine you take a carrot—a healthy vegetable—and then you deep fry it in oil and add sugary frosting. Now, is that carrot snack still healthy? No, of course not.
And the same is true when you see “whole grains” are used to make high-sugar cereals and snacks. High amounts of added sugar or oil make food processed—even if it has healthy ingredients, too.
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 high amounts of salt.
Now, if we take a look at Wheat Thins’ ingredients with this kind of lens, how does it fare? Well… Not the best.
After “whole grain wheat flour,” the next ingredients in most flavors are canola oil and sugar. Ding ding—that’s processed food! It may not be as processed as donuts… but these snack crackers are certainly not whole foods.
But how much of these processed ingredients do Wheat Thins really have? And how does it compare to other popular snack foods like Ritz, Triscuits, or pretzels? Let’s continue our analysis and see…
3. Are Wheat Thins Good for Weight Loss?
Wheat Thins are not the most optimal food for weight loss. This is because they contain processed, high-calorie ingredients such as canola oil, refined sugar, and other sweeteners. However, Wheat Thins 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 lead to 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 have high calorie density, too. These foods are concentrated sources of calories, as much of the fiber and bulk have been removed in processing.
Since Wheat Thins have ingredients with a high calorie density—canola oil, sugar, and others—there is a risk that you will overeat Wheat Thins without feeling fully satisfied. Compare that to green vegetables, where there is no real risk of overeating on calories—even if you stuff yourself.
By itself, a few servings of Wheat Thins will not make or break your weight loss diet, though. 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 Wheat Thins or other “processed foods” on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet as long as that larger pattern remains in tact.
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4. Are Wheat Thins High in Fiber?
Wheat Thins are relatively high in fiber, with around 3 grams per serving (16 crackers). For comparison, this is far more fiber than found in Ritz Original Crackers (0g) or Rold Gold Pretzels (<1g). It’s about the same amount of fiber as found in Triscuits Original (3g).
The recommended daily intake of fiber is 38g for men and 25g for women. Shockingly, only about 1 in 20 Americans get enough fiber by these guidelines. (source)
Most Americans only eat about 10g to 15g of fiber per day. So, a handful of Wheat Thins isn’t likely to solve the fiber problem by itself. Still, Wheat Thins are decent compared to other popular snack foods.
Here is a table showing the fiber content of four different Wheat Thins flavors—with comparison to other leading snack foods:
|Wheat Thins Flavor||Fiber Per Serving|
|Original Wheat Thins||3g|
|Reduced Fat Wheat Thins||3g|
|Sundried Tomato & Basil Wheat Thins||2g|
|Multigrain Wheat Thins||2g|
|For Comparison: Ritz Original Crackers||0g|
|For Comparison: Triscuits Original||3g|
|For Comparison: Rold Gold Pretzels: Original Tiny Twists||<1g|
To optimize your fiber intake, try to make an overall switch toward more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.
If you’re looking for a truly high-fiber food, consider beans. For illustration, beans have about double the fiber of Wheat Thins per serving!
5. Are Wheat Thins High in Cholesterol?
Wheat Thins do not have any dietary cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal ingredients, and most Wheat Thins flavors are vegan. Even the Ranch flavor, which contains milk, is cholesterol free.
However, if you’re serious about reducing your cholesterol levels, you may also want to be mindful of saturated fat levels. Research shows that saturated fat intake tends to raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. (source)
Wheat Thins don’t have much saturated fat. They just have ~0.5 grams of saturated fat per serving. Still, if you’re on a serious heart disease prevention plan, it’s something to consider: Wheat Thins do have some saturated fat, likely coming from the vegetable oil.
6. Are Wheat Thins Fried or Baked?
Wheat Thins are baked, not fried. However, Wheat Thins still contain canola oil. They are not a low-fat food.
There is a general understanding that baking is healthier than frying because less oil can be used. But be careful not to assume too much based on one word (“baked”).
As covered below, about 1/3 of the calories in Original Wheat Thins come from fat, mostly from the oil. So, Original Wheat Thins still contain a decent amount of processed oil, despite being baked rather than fried.
If you’d like to go for a lower-fat option, you can get Reduced Fat Wheat Thins. They have about 25% less fat than the Original flavor, so it’s a bit less.
7. Are Wheat Thins Low Carb?
Wheat Thins are not a low-carb food. About 63% of the calories in Original Wheat Thins come from carbohydrates. Most flavors of Wheat Thins have around 22 grams of total carbs per serving, with 4g or 5g coming from added sugar.
Below is a table showing carbs and sugars in four flavors of Wheat Thins. The serving size for each of these products is about 14 to 16 crackers (or ~30 grams).
|Wheat Thins Flavor||Total Carbs||Total Sugars|
|Original Wheat Thins||22g||5g|
|Reduced Fat Wheat Thins||22g||4g|
|Sundried Tomato & Basil Wheat Thins||21g||4g|
|Multigrain Wheat Thins||22g||3g|
- Are Wheat Thins “Good Carbs”? Wheat Thins are made with whole grain wheat flour, which makes them more nutritious than many snack crackers. However, around 13% to 23% of the carbs in Wheat Thins still come from added sugar. So not all the carbs in Wheat Thins should be considered “good carbs.”
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8. Why Are Wheat Thins Banned in Other Countries?
Wheat Thins are banned in the United Kingdom, Japan, and several other countries because they are packaged with the preservative BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). BHT is often associated with BHA, which can have cancer-causing effects at high levels.
However, when you dig into the research, the research is more reassuring for BHT than for BHA. And in fact—interestingly, it is possible that the antioxidant properties of both BHA and BHT may make them protective against free radical oxidation at lower levels. In fact, these preservatives may be anti-carcinogenic at low levels.
9. Are Wheat Thins Good for Bodybuilding?
There are several factors you might consider when looking at whether a food is “good for bodybuilding.” You can look at athletic recovery and inflammation, total calories, protein, and more.
When it comes to protein, there’s not a lot to celebrate about Wheat Thins. Most flavors only give you about 2g of protein per serving of 16 crackers. That is less than 2 grams of protein for every 100 calories you eat.
The macronutrient ratio in Original Wheat Thins is about 63% carbs, 32% fat, and 5% protein. So, Wheat Thins are pretty low-protein for bodybuilding.
Often, bodybuilders aim get around 20% of their calories from protein. That can vary, but in any case, Wheat Thins will likely not be a useful staple food for bodybuilders.
However, Wheat Thins can serve a purpose on a bodybuilding diet. For example, you could use 100-calorie snack bags of Wheat Thins as small indulgences, while still hitting a low-calorie goal for the day. Such managed indulgences can make dieting sustainable.
10. Are Wheat Thins Vegan?
The following flavors of Wheat Thins are vegan: Original, Reduced Fat, Sundried Tomato & Basil, Big, Hint of Salt, Multigrain, and Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil. The Ranch flavor of Wheat Thins are not vegan, as they contain dairy.
Ranch Wheat Thins actually contain several dairy ingredients: Whey, buttermilk, lactose, and cheddar cheese powder. But luckily, it’s the only flavor that I could find where dairy is present at all.
- Do Wheat Thins contain eggs? Wheat Thins do not contain eggs. Most flavors are fully vegan, as well.
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