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The best & worst girl scout cookies

By Brierley Wright, January 23, 2012 - 1:55pm

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Every year I look forward to the Girl Scouts’ annual cookie sale (um, who doesn’t?!). This year’s sale is more controversial than most, with some people banning the treats in opposition to the organization’s acceptance of a transgendered member, while others are buying more boxes to show their support. I like supporting Girl Scouts and their activities, but, honestly, I think my excitement really stems from the fact that this is the only time of year I can buy these cookies.

The dietitian and nutrition editor in me kicks in about the time I sit down to fill out the order sheet: does my teeny-tiny family of two really need that many boxes of cookies? Um, no! And which cookies are the healthiest in terms of calories, fat, sugar and ingredients? (Some varieties still contain trans fats.)

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Well, I finally looked into the nutrition information this year—and here’s what I found:

The Healthiest Choice
ShortbreadShortbread (also called Trefoils in certain locations, see separate nutrition information below.)
Serving size = 4 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 120 calories (30 calories per cookie), 4.5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 105 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 1 g protein.

This cookie won the title of healthiest for a few reasons: per cookie, the calories are pretty low. One serving also delivers the least amount of total fat and sugar. There are only 10 ingredients in the ingredient list—and sugar appears a mere two times.

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The Least Healthy Choice
Caramel deLitesCaramel deLites (also called Samoas in certain locations, see separate nutrition information below.)
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 140 calories (70 calories per cookie), 7 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 85 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 13 g sugars, 1 g protein.

Compared to the others, Caramel deLites deliver the most saturated fat (one serving is 30 percent of your daily value) and although it’s labeled as containing 0 grams of trans fat, the ingredient list includes partially hydrogenated oil. (There’s a loophole in labeling laws: if a serving delivers less than 0.5 gram of trans fat, it can be labeled as containing 0 grams of trans fat, which is why you need to check the ingredient list for the phrase “partially hydrogenated [insert name, such as palm or coconut] oil") Caramel deLites also have the most sugar of all the cookies—in fact, sugar is the first ingredient (most of the others list flour first).

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SamoasSamoas
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 140 calories (70 calories per cookie), 7 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 55 mg sodium, 19 g total carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 10 g sugars, 1 g protein.

Samoas are available in some regions in place of Caramel deLites. Though Samoas are the lowest of all the cookies when it comes to sodium, they also list sugar as the first ingredient (in fact, sugar is listed a total of seven times in the ingredient list, which is the most of any Girl Scout cookie). They also contain partially hydrogenated oil.

And The Rest
Savannah SmilesSavannah Smiles
Serving size = 5 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 140 calories (28 calories per cookie), 5 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 125 mg sodium, 23 g total carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 1 g protein.

This cookie was a close second to being the healthiest choice. Per cookie, it has 2 fewer calories and 0.5 gram less saturated fat, but significantly more sugar (and four types of sugar are listed in the ingredient list) than Shortbread and a tiny bit more total fat.

TrefoilsTrefoils
Serving size = 5 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 160 calories (32 calories per cookie), 8 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 115 mg sodium, 22 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 2 g protein.


Do-si-dosDo-si-dos (also called Peanut Butter Sandwich in certain locations, see separate nutrition information below.)
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 110 calories (55 calories per cookie), 5 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 70 mg sodium, 16 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 2 g protein.


Peanut Butter SandwichPeanut Butter Sandwich
Serving size = 3 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 160 calories (53 calories per cookie), 6 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 135 mg sodium, 26 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 2 g protein.

Though Peanut Butter Sandwiches are labeled as having 0 grams of trans fat, the ingredient list contains partially hydrogenated oil.

Dulce de LecheDulce de Leche
Serving size = 4 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 160 calories (40 calories per cookie), 8 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 70 mg sodium, 20 g total carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 1 g protein.


Thank U Berry MuchThank U Berry Munch
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 120 calories (60 calories per cookie), 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 75 mg sodium, 18 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 1 g protein.


TagalongsTagalongs (also called Peanut Butter Patties in certain locations, see separate nutrition information below.)
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 140 calories (70 calories per cookie), 9 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 95 mg sodium, 13 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 1 g protein.

Though these cookies are labeled as delivering 0 grams of trans fat, the ingredient list contains partially hydrogenated oil.

Peanut Butter PattiesPeanut Butter Patties
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 130 calories (65 calories per cookie), 8 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 110 mg sodium, 13 g total carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 1 g protein.

Partially hydrogenated oil is listed as an ingredient in these cookies too.

Thin MintsThin Mints
Serving size = 4 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 160 calories (40 calories per cookie), 8 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 120 mg sodium, 22 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 10 g sugars, 1 g protein.

The Thin Mints ingredient list includes partially hydrogenated oil, despite being labeled as containing 0 grams of trans fat per serving.

Shout Outs!Shout Outs!
Serving size = 4 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 130 calories (32 calories per cookie), 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 130 mg sodium, 18 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 2 g protein.

Like the shortbread cookies, Shout Outs! also have only 10 ingredients and sugar listed twice.

LemonadesLemonades
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 150 calories (75 calories per cookie), 7 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 80 mg sodium, 22 g total carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 1 g protein.

A 2–cookie serving of Lemonades is labeled as having 0 grams of trans fat, yet the ingredient list includes partially hydrogenated oil.

Thanks-A-LotThanks-A-Lot
Serving size = 2 cookies
Nutrition Information per serving: 150 calories (75 calories per cookie), 6 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 110 mg sodium, 22 g total carbohydrate, <1 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 2 g protein.

The Thanks-A-Lots also contain partially hydrogenated oil.

Which Girl Scout cookie is your favorite? And does the nutrition information impact your choice? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Brierley Wright, Health Blog, Dessert, Diet, Nutrition, Product reviews

Brierley Wright
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

Brierley asks: Which Girl Scout cookie is your favorite? And does the nutrition information impact your choice?

Tell us what you think:

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