Gluten-free pretzels are one of the most common snacks available in the gluten-free section of a store, and they’re one of my go to snacks. Many people who eat gluten-free pretzels wonder if they’re a healthy snack option.
Gluten-Free pretzels are not a very healthy snack even though they are low in calories and fat compared to some foods. They lack key nutritional benefits as they are high in carbohydrate and salt content but are low in protein and fiber.
Not all gluten-free pretzels are created equal, as nutrients per serving can vary widely between different brands of pretzels. Gluten-free pretzels also differ in nutrients from their wheat-containing counterparts.
Are Gluten-Free Pretzels Healthy?
Gluten-free pretzels are appealing because they’re low in fat and calories per serving compared to some other gluten-free snacks. 100 Calories and 2 grams of fat sounds like a pretty healthy snack option, especially when compared to high fat snacks like potato chips. However, when you take a closer look at all nutrient facts, it’s clear that gluten-free pretzels are really just empty calories.
|Nutrient Facts||Gluten-Free Hard Pretzels – Averages||Lays Classic Potato Chips||Roasted and Salted Peanuts – Amazon Brand|
|Serving Size||1 Oz (28g) – 30 pretzels||1 Oz (28g) – 15 chips||1 Oz (28g) – 1/4 cup|
|Total Fat||2.5g – 4%||10g – 13%||15g – 19%|
|Sodium||373mg – 16%||170mg – 7%||90mg – 4%|
|Carbohydrates||22g – 7%||15g – 5%||4g – 2%|
|Dietary Fiber||1g – 4%||1g – 4%||3g – 4%|
Focusing only on some of the nutritional information doesn’t provide the full picture. While gluten-free pretzels beat potato chips and peanuts when comparing fat and calories, gluten-free pretzels lose big time when comparing other nutrient facts that should be considered like carbohydrates, salt, fiber, and protein.
To achieve a healthy balance of snacking, you can add in other gluten-free snacks that will give you the other nutrients that pretzels won’t, like nuts and fruits. While peanuts and other nuts are higher in fat and calories, their higher fiber and protein content are important parts of a healthy diet.
Some people may find it easy to exceed the serving size of gluten-free pretzels, as the standard 1 oz serving size is about 23-30 pretzels, depending on the size, shape, and brand of the pretzels. That may sound like a lot of pretzels, but 30 pretzels can easily fit in the palm of your hand.
If you grab a couple of handfuls of gluten-free pretzels for a snack, you’re well on your way to eating 2 times the serving size. Your low calorie and low fat snack just became a 220 calorie snack with 600+mg of salt and 40g of carbs (not sounding as healthy anymore, is it?)
In addition to including other gluten-free snacks in your diet, another step you can take to achieve a healthy balance of snacking is to moderate your consumption of gluten-free pretzels so that you don’t exceed the serving size.
Which Gluten-Free Pretzels Are The Healthiest?
The healthiest gluten-free pretzels are Quinn Snacks Non-GMO and Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks – Classic Sea Salt. They had the healthiest balance of nutritional facts when comparing fat, carbs, salt, and calorie count between 7 different brands.
Here’s how Quinn Snack Gluten Free Pretzels compare to the competition (serving size 1Oz):
- Lower end of Calorie content: 110 Calories
- Fat content slightly above average: 3g
- Lowest sodium content: 240mg
- 2nd Lowest Carb content: 20g
These are the different brands and types of gluten-free pretzels that were compared:
- Glutino Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks
- Glutino Gluten Free Pretzel Twists
- Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks
- Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten Free Mini Pretzels (Twists)
- Real Food From The Ground Up Vegan Cauliflower Pretzels (Sticks)
- 365 by Whole Foods Market, Pretzel Twists, Salted – Gluten Free
- FitJoy Gluten Free Pretzels, Himalayan Pink Salt Twists, Grain Free
- Quinn Snacks Non-GMO and Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks – Classic Sea Salt
- Good Health Gluten Free Pretzels with Sea Salt
Are Gluten-Free Pretzels Healthier Than Wheat-Containing Pretzels?
Gluten-free pretzels are not healthier than wheat pretzels. Wheat-containing pretzels have slightly lower fat content, higher protein content, and are more likely to contain additional vitamins and minerals than gluten-free pretzels.
|Nutrition Facts||Gluten-Free Hard Pretzels||Wheat-Containing Hard Pretzels|
|Serving Size||1 Oz (28g)||1 Oz (28g)|
|Total Fat||2.5g – 4%||.5g – 1%|
|Sodium||373mg – 16%||365mg – 15%|
|Carbohydrates||22g – 7%||23.5g – 8%|
|Dietary Fiber||1g – 4%||1g – 4%|
As is the case with the gluten-free pretzels, nutrients vary by brand for wheat-containing pretzels. As seen in the table, the average gluten-free pretzels and average wheat pretzels are somewhat comparable in nutrition facts. Calories, sodium, carbohydrates and dietary fiber content are the same or very similar between the pretzels.
However, wheat-containing pretzels are more likely to have extra vitamins and minerals (Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, ect) than gluten-free pretzels because they’re often made with enriched wheat flour. Enriched flour has had the nutrients that were lost in the flour refinement process added back into the flour.
If you don’t have to follow a gluten-free diet, and you’re trying to decide between gluten-free pretzels and wheat-containing pretzels based solely on healthiness, then wheat-containing pretzels should be your choice.
Gluten-free pretzels, and other gluten-free products, are not inherently more healthy because they’re gluten free.
Gluten-free products are inherently more expensive than their wheat-containing counterparts however. (Another point to consider when deciding between gluten-free and wheat-containing pretzels).
Some people who do not have to avoid gluten still prefer the taste and texture of gluten-free pretzels to wheat-containing pretzels. Gluten-free pretzels are generally more crispy than wheat-containing pretzels. Taste of gluten-free pretzels varies by brand.
Personal Opinion: Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzels are the best gluten-free bretzels.
Here are the different brands and types of wheat-containing pretzels that were compared in this post:
- Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels Twists
- Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel Sticks
- Amazon Brand Happy Belly Mini Pretzel Twists
- Whole Foods 365 Organic Pretzel Twists
- Rold Gold Mini Pretzel Twists
- Rold Gold Pretzel Sticks