Sometimes all your soul needs is a sweet treat in the form of a deep-fried ball of dough with your favorite frosted topping. And when the need for this arises, oftentimes to easiest and cheapest way to satisfy these cravings is by pulling into a drive-thru for a quick donut (or two). But while fast-food donuts are certainly delicious, many of them are pretty awful in terms of nutrition.
Donuts from fast-food joints like Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, or Tim Horton’s are never going to be “healthy,” as they’re always going to be loaded with calories, fat, and sugar. And a lot of the time, your donut venture won’t be motivated by nutrition, but will instead be motivated by treating yourself to your favorite sugary food. But if you are trying to enjoy a donut without completely derailing your health goals, it can be helpful to be aware of certain donuts that break the sugar, calorie, and fat.
Read on to learn more about some of the worst fast-food donuts available right now from popular chains around the country, as well as a few lighter alternatives you can choose from. Then for more fast-food tips, check out 7 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Coffees to Stay Away From Right Now.
Krispy Kreme Peanut Butter Kreme Filled Donut Topped with M&M’s
The Peanut Butter Kreme Filled Donut from Krispy Kreme is enticing, especially with the pile of M&M candy on top, but according to Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, this donut is one you may want to avoid. “Adding a peanut butter ‘kreme,’ along with candy brings the calorie total up to 410 with 25 grams of sugar, and this donut contains multiple sources of sweetener, such as sugar, corn syrup, and artificial colorings.”
Sabat also adds that “The presence of palm oil, soybean oil, and hydrogenated oils raises concerns about the potential presence of trans fats, and trans fats are known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease when consumed in excess.”
If visiting Krispy Kreme for a sweet treat, try a regular Glazed Donut instead, which has only 5 grams of saturated fat and 10 grams of sugar.
You know that any time you reach for a donut, you’re going to be getting some sort of jolt of calories, fat, and sugar, which is perfectly fine to treat yourself to from time to time. But as we mentioned, some donuts are much worse than others, and the Caramel Chocoholic from Dunkin’ is the perfect example. At 470 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 38 grams of sugar, this is one of the unhealthiest donuts on their menu.
For some perspective, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat to about 5 or 6% of your daily calories. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s around 13 grams—just one more gram than what you’d have from one of these Dunkin’ donuts.
Dunkin’ Glazed Jelly Stick
Another enticing—yet not-so-healthy—option from Dunkin’ is their Glazed Jelly Stick. “This donut comes in at 540 calories with 30 grams of fat and 37 grams of sugar, and it includes ingredients such as enriched wheat flour, palm oil, sugar, and a jelly filling with corn syrup,” says Sabat. She adds, “Additionally, the presence of additives like artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives further detracts from the overall nutritional quality of the donut.”
For a lighter option at Dunkin’ when you’re craving something with jelly, try their regular Jelly Donut, which has only 4 grams of saturated fat and 13 grams of sugar, a significant improvement from the Glazed Jelly Stick.
Tim Horton’s is a classic one-stop shop for coffee, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches, and even though it originated in Hamilton, Canada, it is now a fast-food favorite among Americans, too. Their list of delicious donuts is extensive, but many of the choices are simply not worth it when it comes to their nutritional value—or lack thereof.
Their Chocolate Eclair Donut, for example, has 310 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, 20 grams of sugar, and 0.1 grams of trans fat. At first glance, that amount of trans fat may not seem like much, but the World Health Organization says that unfortunately even small amounts of trans fat on a regular basis can be harmful to your health.
Similarly to their Peanut Butter Kreme Donut, this Chocolate Candy Surprise Donut is a special-time offer from Krispy Kreme, featuring a mouthful of M&M’s as the “surprise.” As you can probably guess from the picture, this donut is loaded with sugar, calories, and saturated fat.
If you’re really wanting to try one of Krispy Kreme’s limited time M&M’s-themed offers, you’ll be a little better off going for their Chocolate Iced M&M’s donut instead. It’s not healthy by any means, but it has 310 calories instead of 380 and 7 grams of saturated fat instead of 10.
What can be better than the combination of cake batter and a donut? Although this menu offering from Krispy Kreme sounds amazing, it’s high in calories, saturated fat, and sugar—26 grams, to be exact. Even more of an issue is the fact that the Cake Batter Donut has less than one gram of fiber, meaning there’s nothing to help your body break down the carbohydrates it’s taking in. This can potentially lead to a spike in your blood sugar, which can cause you to feel more tired and have more intense cravings afterward.
Honey Dew Donuts is a lesser-known donut chain, but it’s a favorite among North Easterners who live in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or New Hampshire. Among their menu options are bagels, breakfast sandwiches, hot and iced coffees, and donuts, but if you’re going for one of their sugary donuts, you may want to steer clear of one in particular.
The Honey Dew Coconut Jelly Stick is the most calorie and sugar-heavy donut on our list with 590 calories and 40 grams of sugar per stick. Not only that, but it has a whopping 680 milligrams of sodium, which is almost a third of the recommended daily limit.
Not all of Honey Dew’s options have this much sugar, and if you’re wanting a sugary treat that is a bit lighter on calories and sugar, try something like the Sugar Raised Donut, which has 260 calories and 5 grams of sugar.
Shipley Do-Nuts Chocolate Filled Donut
Shipley Do-Nuts is all over the southeastern United States, and this fast-food donut joint offers a wide selection of sweet treats to satisfy any of your cravings on the go. However, some of the options are much worse than others, including their Chocolate Filled Donut, which has almost 400 calories and 36 grams of sugar. Aside from the 36 grams of sugar, you’re also getting only one gram of fiber, which again means your body won’t have anything to help slow the digestion of the sugar.
“Many of these fast-food donuts are typically high in sugar,” says Sabat, “and consuming excessive amounts of sugar can contribute to weight gain, increase the risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and negatively impact dental health.”
For a slightly better choice from Shipley, try their Chocolate Glazed Donut, which has 180 calories and only 5 grams of sugar, but will still satiate your chocolate cravings.
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This content was originally published here.