Be it the Parle G Biscuits that we have all grown up with or the bourbons that we lick only the cream off; the biscuit has long been a part of life. It is now that it has suddenly been termed as healthy, with extra fiber, fortified with minerals and having no Trans fat. It was such a big part of our life, that did we ever consider whether it was actually healthy before?
So, let’s see if biscuits are as healthy as the companies claim them to be.
First let’s glance through what generally most of the biscuits contain
Wheat Flour- Another word for Maida, the wheat flour mentioned on the packages is generally refined wheat flour. Eating refined wheat flour is not `recommended because during processing, the brown cover of the wheat is removed that contains essential vitamins and also the necessary fiber that supplements the process of digestion and supports weight loss.
Hydrogenated oils- They may seem harmless enough, but these hydrogenated oils mean that they contain the most dangerous kind of fats- Trans fat. Trans fat is known to increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. They also increase chances of diabetes and heart disease.
Sugar: Most of the biscuits are sweet and they contain moderate to high amounts of sugar. This high amount of sugar gives a sudden spike of energy but does not fill us. Also the diabetics really have to be careful of choosing the right kind of biscuit that is low in sugar. You can check the amount of sugar present in the biscuits by checking out the package.
All in the terms of what they replace: In case you are wondering, all the above contents make biscuits not very healthy option Dr. Shweta Iyanger however says that, “whether biscuits are healthy or not, is relative to what they replace. If biscuits replace fruits, then they are bad but if they are taken in place of the other packaged food items like chaklis and chiwdas, then they are healthy.”
So let’s be clear about what biscuits are not:
A Biscuit is not low on calories
Marie which is considered to be one of the lighter biscuits contains 56 calories in just two of its pieces. You will require 30 minutes of aerobics to lose those calories. If Marie adds so many calories then imagine the number of calories other sweeter biscuits add.
A Biscuit is not a good source of fiber
Don’t totally believe what they say in the advertisements. Even with the fiber that is added in the biscuits, that content is much lower than the daily requirement for fiber. So instead of looking at biscuits for fiber we should look at fruits and vegetables for our requirement of fiber.
A Biscuit is not a healthy snack replacement
A good time to have biscuit is after exercises and heavy activities. Because it is high in glucose it can give boost to your energy. But as a snack by itself, it would not give you nutrition that you should especially after an activity. So eating cereals or fruits will be the better option.
So should you give up on all the biscuits?
No, feels Dr. Shweta Iyengar, she says “biscuits are better option when you are on the move and only options like samosas and vada pavs are available. Biscuit is then the safer, hygienic and healthy option.”
Let’s see the types of biscuits that you should keep away from, if you are dieting:
- Khari, Nankhatai and other bakery products: These are strictly to be avoided because they contain lots of maida, vanaspati ghee and margarine which are a source of trans fats.
- Cream Biscuits: Kids absolutely love cream biscuits. But these have to be avoided for being extremely sweet and containing artificial colors and flavors. You should keep them to the minimum and choose other kinds of biscuits.
- Cookies: Good day, Hide and seek and the other dry fruits biscuits are what we serve to the guests, but did you know, most of the cookies contain butter and are as bad as cream biscuits.
What about the better options?
When giving up on biscuits is difficult what you can do for yourself and your family is take healthier options. The healthier biscuits options are whole grain or multi grain biscuits, soya and nachni variety. These are high on fibre content and nutrition value.
Sweety Das, Nutritionist and Dietician at DENMARC says that, “We do not recommend biscuits for people who want to lose weight. For those who cannot give up on biscuits, they need to consciously look at the nutrition label on the packets. They will then realize the amount of saturated fats and sugar that we consume through biscuits. Only then will they choose the healthier options.”
Biscuits have become part of our lives more because of the sentiments attached with them and out of habits. If we see biscuits as they are- that is high in calories and with little nutrition, we can look beyond the advertisements and look for better options.