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Articles Fitness Nutrition

The Nutrition of Pretzels

Pretzels are a popular snack. They are easy to eat, relatively inexpensive and can be found practically anywhere. But how healthy are pretzels for you, really? Let's examine the salt, carbohydrate and calorie content of pretzels.

Salt

Pretzels are typically loaded with high amounts of salt. While salt does not in and of itself contain any calories, it is still very dangerous. High salt intake has been found to be linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke and even some types of cancer. In addition, high salt intake can cause abdominal bloating, swelling and other feelings of general unease. For best results, look for pretzels that are salt free. If you can't find these types of pretzels in your local grocery store, try to scrape off as much salt from the originals as you can.

Carbohydrates

Pretzels are made almost entirely from flour, and because of this, are composed almost primarily from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are classified as either simple carbohydrates, which are things such as sugar, white flour and other similar products, and complex carbohydrates, which are whole wheat flour and fiber. Complex carbohydrates received their name due to the fact that they are relatively difficult to break down and digest, and therefore take a long time to move from the stomach into the digestive system. In contrast, simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down and digested.

This can be detrimental to good health for a variety of reasons. Since simple carbohydrates are broken down and excreted so rapidly, they are not very filling foods. They leave your stomach almost as soon as they enter it. Simple carbohydrates are often restricted for diabetics due to their ability to promote a rapid spike in blood sugar, and a subsequent drop. This is dangerous because it can lead to feelings of nausea, dizziness, fainting and can even cause a coma. Unfortunately, most pretzels are made from white flour, and therefore contain high amounts of simple carbs. While you may be able to find some whole wheat pretzels, they may not be available in all grocery stores.

Calories

So far weve really only discussed the dangers of pretzels, so now let's talk about one of the good things. As discussed above, pretzels are composed primarily of carbohydrate. In relation to calories, carbohydrates are relatively low in calories. Per gram, carbohydrates contain 4 calories, while fat contains 9. Therefore, since pretzels contain almost no fat, they end up being a relatively low calorie food. If you can find pretzels that are both salt free and made from whole grain, you'll have found a gem! These types of pretzels will make great snacks for people who are both trying to lose weight, or are simply concerned about their current health status.

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