By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Why Donuts Should Be Mostly A Don’t!
Doughnuts are everywhere right now! I’ve recently seen them in my office as a token of employee appreciation, healthcare workers are getting dozens of free Krispy Kremes and the doughnut empire just recently launched a new flavor (with limited availability that will surely attract even more customers) - key lime glazed and key lime “kreme” filled.
In addition to this, Krispy Kreme has a promotion called “Be Sweet Saturday,” where if you purchase a dozen, you get a free dozen. So if you visit Krispy Kreme, you are not just having one donut!
Many businesses are closed right now due to COVID-19. Krispy Kreme is not one of them.
I get it. Their donuts are delicious and may even feel “comforting” during these challenging times. But you may really want to think about what is in these donuts before you eat more than one or purchase a dozen or two to share with your family.
Donuts fall into the category of ultra-processed foods, which are nutrient-void and full of additives that can be detrimental to your health. Other examples of ultra-processed foods include cookies, frozen pizza, cakes, store bought mac and cheese, crackers, cured meats, ice cream and sodas (just to name a few). These foods are full of sodium and/or sugar, and regular consumption of these foods may lead to some serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression and even cancer.
Not to mention, as we battle the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical that we nourish our bodies with nutrient-rich foods in order to keep our immune systems strong so that they are in a better position to fight off viruses and other harmful pathogens. Healthcare workers especially need to eat immune-boosting foods right now, as they are currently being exposed to so much coming in and out of hospitals.
To give you a bit more perspective, let’s take a look at some of the ingredients in just one Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut.
10 g of sugar.
This may not sound too bad, but it’s unlikely that you are just going to eat one if you buy a dozen. Sugar is addicting. And just for the sake of doing the math and wrapping our heads around this, let’s say you spread that dozen out over the course of 12 days. That’s 120 grams of extra sugar in your diet in less than two weeks.
Excess consumption of sugar can lead to diabetes and also contribute to inflammation throughout the body which can be a major contributing factor to pain, declining cognitive function and other health issues. And some believe sugar is just as addictive as drugs. Like many types of addictions, high-sugar diets can cause mood disorders >> (click to tweet this). One rat study showed greater neurological reward with intense sweetness (sugar or calorie-free sweetener) than the drug cocaine. Another study showed sugar withdrawal symptoms may be similar to that of alcohol, morphine or nicotine.
85 mg of sodium.
These donuts may be sugary and sweet, but they are also salty. And, again, you are likely eating more than just one donut. If you have two, that’s 170 mg of sodium.
Salt (sodium) is a culprit we need to be particularly aware of. Although sodium is an essential nutrient (it is an electrolyte that helps regulate blood pressure and enable muscle and nerve cells to function properly), overall most Americans consume way too much sodium, putting them at a higher risk of developing hypertension and heart disease.
11 g of fat (5 g of saturated fat)
Fat (along with water, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals) are one of the six nutrient groups we all need for good health and survival. But there is healthy fat, and then there is not so healthy fat.
Soybean oil is the most popular and widely consumed edible oil in the United States. It is a vegetable oil, which may be a misleading name because we usually associate vegetables with good health and this oil is not very healthy. There is evidence which shows that soybean oil may be damaging to the brain.
And if you look at all of the other ingredients in one glazed donut, you will see that there are many additives and names of materials you probably don’t even recognize. When selecting foods and reading nutrition labels, a general rule of thumb is that you want to go for foods that only contain ingredients you recognize. And the more ingredients usually means the more stuff you do not want to put into your body.
We need to approach eating from a whole foods mindset. For example, sweet potatoes have just one ingredient. Sweet potatoes!
I know that it can be difficult to change eating habits, especially during a time like now. But we can’t always give in to the donut giveaways and office sweets. If we always justify eating these foods or continue to say “just this once,” we will not be able to overcome America’s obesity epidemic and live our happiest and healthiest lives.
The good news is that there is always a healthier alternative when you are craving something sweet. If fruit doesn’t get the job done, try doing some healthier baking at home with ingredients like sweet potatoes, honey and ripened bananas.
Check out this recipe for these fudgy sweet potato brownies. These brownies only require four ingredients and do not require a lot of excess sugar or vegetable oil.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.