Is Chex Mix Healthy? Why We Don't Think So

Is Chex Mix Healthy? Why We Don't Think So

| |
| |
Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Chex Mix is one of the most popular snack mix brands in the US. It's not branded as healthy, but it is made from whole grains.

But what ingredients are actually in Chex Mix and is it healthy overall? Are there any unhealthy additives included? Which flavor is the healthiest? And can you make a healthier version at home?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Chex Mix to give our take on whether or not it's healthy.

We'll feature a video that showcases a healthy snack mix home recipe, and pick the healthiest Chex Mix flavor.

Ingredient Analysis

Chex Mix Traditional ingredients

The ingredients in Chex Mix Traditional are shown above.

There are some whole food ingredients in this list, but they constitute a minority of ingredients.

Yellow corn meal and whole wheat are whole grains, and whole grain consumption was associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality in a 2023 meta-analysis.

There are a large number of ingredients in this list that we consider to be unhealthy.

BHT was described as a "tumor promoter" in a medical review published in a German medical journal.

Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that's clinically shown to cause inflammatory reactions in some cases, as we documented in our review of chip brand Popcorners.

Sugar and barley malt syrup are refined, high-glycemic sweeteners.

One bag of Chex Mix traditional contains 16 grams (g) of added sugar, and clinical studies suggest that added sugar intake in excess is associated with increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Trisodium phosphate is another questionable food additive, and avoiding inorganic phosphates entirely may be a good health choice.

A medical review published in the Advances in Nutrition journal stated that "mild elevations of serum phosphate within the normal range are also associated with cardiovascular disease risk."

It's also notable that one bag of Chex Mix Traditional provides 2,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium, or 88% of the Daily Value (DV).

Overall, we consider Chex Mix to be considerably unhealthy given all of the additive ingredients discussed above.

Healthier At-Home Snack Mix

A YouTube channel called "Kay's Kafeteria" has a recipe for a healthy homemade snack mix:

Which Chex Mix Flavor is Healthiest?

Chex Mix comes in a wide variety of flavors.

While we don't currently consider any Chex Mix flavors to be healthy, we consider Chex Mix Traditional to be healthier than the Chex Mix flavors containing dairy.

Chex Mix Cheddar contains cheese (presumably sourced from conventionally-raised animals) and two artificial colorants (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6).

As we discussed in our article on are Cheez-Its healthy, some studies show animal products sourced from conventionally-raised animals to be less nutritious than animal products sourced from pastured animals.

A 2012 meta-study reported that Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 and Red #40 have been found to be contaminated with benzidine, which is a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemical compound. 

Our Healthy Chip Pick

Jackson's Sweet Potato Kettle Chips are our top healthy chip pick.

Organic coconut oil is used instead of vegetable oil, which is lower in omega-6 fatty acids.

Sweet potato is used as the base ingredient, and this food is clinically shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects.

The only ingredients in this product are sweet potatoes, organic coconut oil and sea salt; there are no additive sweeteners or flavoring agents.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We do not consider any flavor of Chex Mix to be healthy.

Chex Mix would be considered a "processed" food, and we prefer snack brands composed entirely of whole food ingredients.

Of note, Chex Mix contains BHT, phosphates, and some flavors contain artificial colors.

For consumers intent on purchasing Chex Mix, we consider the Traditional flavor to be healthier than the Cheddar flavor.

In this article, we featured a video that shows how to make homemade snack mix that may be healthier than Chex Mix.