Gingerbread men were first introduced by Queen Elizabeth I, who would have gingerbread cookies made in the likeness of her guests. While these treats tend to make their appearance during the Christmas season, you can enjoy these sweet and spicy cookies at any time. Knowing their nutrition information can help you determine how they fit into your diet plan.
Calories in gingerbread men cookies vary depending on the size of the cookie. A large 3-ounce cookie contains 340 calories, while a smaller 1.4-ounce cookie contains 160 calories. However, no matter what size cookie you eat, the gingerbread man makes a calorie-dense choice with about 114 calories per ounce. As a calorie-dense food, the cookie is high in calories compared to its serving size.
Most of the calories in the gingerbread man cookie come from carbohydrates. A large cookie contains 59 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber and 22 grams of sugar. A small cookie contains 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber and 14 grams of sugar. While carbohydrates are an important source of energy, a large portion of the carbs in the cookie comes from the added sugar. Sugar provides calories with little nutritional value. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you limit your intake of foods with added sugar like gingerbread men to 5 to 15 percent of your calorie intake.
Protein and Fat
Gingerbread men make a low-fat cookie choice but are a source of saturated fat. A large cookie contains 10 grams of total fat and 5 grams of saturated fat, while the small cookie contains 3 grams of total fat and 1 gram of saturated fat. Saturated fat is not a necessary nutrient, and high intakes are associated with elevated blood cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease. To reduce your risk and improve your health, limit your intake of saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake.
Gingerbread men are a source of sodium. One large cookie contains 160 milligrams, while the small cookie contains 123 milligrams. Sodium is an essential nutrient, necessary for fluid balance and nerve function. But most Americans consume more than they need, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and high intakes of sodium are linked to the development of high blood pressure. The USDA recommends that if you are over 51, have a risk of high blood pressure, have diabetes or kidney problems, you should limit your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day. They state that this applies to over 50 percent of the U.S. population. Under these guidelines, the sodium in a gingerbread cookie is roughly 10 percent of your recommended intake. If you have none of these risk factors, your sodium intake should be no more than 2,300 milligrams.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and sharing her love of food, nutrition and health with anyone who'll listen for almost 20 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and Working Mother.