I was looking recently at the health information on the US National Institute of Aging’s website, where they talk about solid fats and added sugars in the diet. Here’s one paragraph from their website (https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/usda-food-patterns):

“For most people, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Patterns allow extra calories every day for solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS) in the processed foods they eat. Choosing foods that are low in fat and without added sugar whenever possible might just leave you with some extra calories left over each day. These extra calories can be used as you like. Some mornings you could have a glazed donut — but don’t forget to count it as a grain and don’t go over your suggested limits for SoFAS.“

I was really surprised that this recommendation was coming from the National Institute of Aging! And we’re wondering why more people are getting unhealthy everyday? Of course, I am not saying that these recommendations are the reason, but should they really be recommending glazed donuts, without suggesting other alternatives, or explain how donuts are made?

How many calories in a donut depends of course on it’s type and size. But rather than just the calories, I’m more interested in what they are made of, and how much added sugar they contain. If you start your day with a donut, do you think you’ll stay full and not quickly get hungry again? And do you think just one donut is enough?

When you start your day with foods that are high in carbohydrate, low in protein, and most importantly not a nutrient dense food, you will have a hard time controlling your hunger during the day. Probably, you will have high insulin spikes followed by a quickly dropping insulin level below normal range. And that will make you want to reach for more donuts, or other baked goods.

One average donut has around 300 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat, 20 grams of added sugar, and 40 grams of carbohydrate (around the same carbs as 3 slices of bread). The daily recommendation for added sugar intake for is 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men (that’s 25 to 36 grams of added sugar). So that single donut has almost your full daily recommended amount of added sugar! On average, in the US people are consuming 270 calories, or around 17 teaspoons, of added sugars each day. In addition, donuts contain partially hydrogenated oils which are high in trans fat.

Here’s some examples of what ingredients are in a donut:

Original Glazed Donut

Donut (Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Sugar. Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Yeast, Soy Lecithin, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate, BHT, Dried Milk Powder, Egg Yolks, Cellulose Gum, Calcium Propionate (To Maintain Freshness), Ammonium Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sorbitan Monostearate, Tocopherols, Tricalcium Phosphate, Diammonium Phosphate); Glaze (Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Palm Oil, Calcium Sulfate And/Or Calcium Carbonate, Agar, Dextrose, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Disodium Phosphate, Locust Bean Gum And/Or Mono and Diglycerides).

Chocolate Iced Glazed Donut with Spring Sprinkles

Ingredients: Donut (Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Sugar. Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Yeast, Soy Lecithin, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Mono and Diglycerides, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Monocalcium Phosphate, BHT, Dried Milk Powder, Cellulose Gum, Lecithin, Maltodextrin, Calcium Propionate (To Maintain Freshness), Ascorbic Acid, Sorbitan Monostearate, Tocopherols, Oat Fiber, Egg Yolks); Icing (Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Corn Syrup Solids, Soybean Oil and/or Palm Oil, Chocolate Liquor, Enzyme Modified Soy Protein, Polysorbate 60, Salt, Sodium Caseinate (Milk), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin); Glaze (Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Palm Oil, Calcium Sulfate And/Or Calcium Carbonate, Agar, Dextrose, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Disodium Phosphate, Locust Bean Gum And/Or Mono and Diglycerides); Sprinkles (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Corn Starch, Glucose, Soy Lecithin, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 3, Gum Arabic, Carnauba Wax).

Can you believe what you’re eating? Do you know — or can you even pronounce — what all of these ingredients are?

So all calories are definitely not equal!

Instead, here are a few healthy breakfast ideas:

— Scrambled eggs with veggies

— Gluten-free old fashioned oats with seeds, such as hemp and pumpkin seed

— Whole milk greek yogurt with berries

— Protein powder, mixed with veggies and berries, and non-dairy milk

— Almond flour pancakes with berries

We always have a better option to choose, we just need to pay attention and take our responsibility. Unfortunately, not everything is fit for moderation. Prevention is the key!

Resources:

National Institute on Aging “Know your food groups”: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/know-your-food-groups

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