Can You Choose More Healthy Cookies?

Cookies are a great tasting snack! While eating cookies is not likely to improve your nutrition, you can minimize the nutritional damage that they'll do by making smarter choices!

1—Portion Control

This is probably the most abused part of cookies! Cookies, by design, are a combination of sugars and fats, flavors that your body is programmed to crave. It is very easy to eat one and then another and another until half the package is gone! The trick here is to take out one portion before you start eating any cookies. After you've taken out your cookie[s], put the package away in some spot that's hard to get to, and only then are you allowed to start! Make sure you know what a serving is by reading the nutrition label. For example: One serving of Oreos is just three cookies and it comes in at 160 calories!

2—Check The Ingredients

All most all cookies are a combination of flour, fat, and sugar. Always check to see what else is added. Again, go to nutrition label to check the ingredients. For help in reading this label, check out this article. Keep a special watch for partially hydrogenated oils (see the next tip), artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and other dubious ingredients.

3—Avoid Trans-Fats

Moist, chewy cookies are the best, at least to some of us. To keep cookies soft and chewy, a lot of fat is used. If it's butter, you are getting a fat that is naturally solid at room temperature. But if the fats used are oils, in order to solidify them, they may be partially hydrogenated, which means they contain artery-clogging trans-fats! The amount of trans-fats in your diet should be zero!

4—Cookies With Nuts And Dried Fruit

They won't make your cookie a health food, but nuts and raisins may add a hint of beneficial nutrients to your snack along with some fiber.

5—Natural And Artificial Flavors

Any “flavor” that is added is something that was produced in a lab. A natural flavor and an artificial flavor may be identical in their chemical composition with the only difference being the source components and creation process. Natural flavors are extracted from plant or animal sources. Artificial flavors are made from basic chemicals. A natural flavor is not necessarily healthier or purer than an artificial one. Calling a flavor created in a lab “natural” is a very loose use of the term.

Why are flavors added to cookies? There are several reasons:

  • The quality of some of the ingredients may not be very high; adding flavors masks that fact.
  • To help maintain the flavor profile over a very long shelf life.
  • Each brands prefers to have some unique signature flavor associated with it, and this is a cheap way to do that.

The Bottom Line Is…

If you are going to eat cookies, portion control is the most important consideration. Choose cookies with a short, understandable ingredient list.

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