Which is Better for you - a Donut or a Muffin?
~ March 2011 No.237 ~
We all are trying to eat more healthy foods. More and more of our food is being prepared and consumed away from the home, and so it is often hard to know what is in the food we eat. But even an innocent coffee break can present challenges. There are so many tempting choices
So will that be a donut or a muffin with your coffee? Easy. Everyone knows that a muffin in better for you than the fat-laden, calorie packed donut. But if you look at the little brochure that is available at the counter, a side by side comparison between an old fashioned glazed donut and a cranberry blueberry bran muffin shows some interesting facts. Blueberries, cranberries and bran are all good for you. A muffin that has all three ingredients has to be healthy. But let's look at the fine print and to a comparison.
You get more to eat when you choose the muffin - 128 g for the muffin vs 75 g for the standard donut. So it will take longer for you to eat the muffin, and you may feel more full after you have finished. As expected, the muffin does have fewer calories (290 vs 320), due to its lower fat content. Surprisingly, it is the muffin that has more saturated fat. The bran in the muffin pushes it past the donut for fibre content (5 g vs 1 g). The berries in the muffin are the sources of the vitamin C; the donut has no vitamin C. At the same time, the berries in the muffin give it more total carbohydrates.
So it looks like there is not too much in the muffin that would make you steer clear of it at a coffee break. But the salt content in the muffin spoils this assumption. The muffin has more than three times the sodium in it as does the donut (710 mg vs 230 mg). That's quite a bit, given the new recommendations to lower daily salt intake as a way of avoiding high blood pressure and heart problems.
Most dietitians will tell you that you should be avoiding between meal snacks. But if coffee breaks are a way to relax and to get to know your fellow workers better, you may find yourself indulging from time to time. Before you buy, check out some of the nutrition information more restaurants supply to know exactly what you are eating. Pay particular attention to the calorie content, amount of saturated fat, fibre and salt content. Don't be surprised that the nutrient content of different types of the same product (e.g. a glazed vs an apple cinnamon donut) are not the same. Do some research, make a healthy choice, and then sit back and enjoy.