LISA’S TAKE (January 2016)

Calorie and Quality…They Both Matter

I recently spoke with someone who said that with regard to weight gain, it doesn’t matter where the calories come from. She suggested that eating a donut is no different than consuming a more nutritious food with the same calorie count. Her argument was it doesn’t matter what food they come from, “calories-in-versus-calories-out” is all that matters.

From a pure weight-gain, -loss or -maintenance perspective she’s right. If we take in more calories needed and we don’t burn the excess off, we’ll gain weight. So it’s certainly important that we don’t overeat anything. Too much of even nutritious foods isn’t good. Portion control matters.

But my partner in conversation’s position that calories can come from whatever foods we want doesn’t pass muster. She believes if we want to only eat donuts, that’s okay as long as we don’t eat so many that we gain weight. I don’t agree.

Where’s the nutrition in a donut or a similar type food? It’s really not there. For example, the saturated fat in donuts isn’t heart-friendly and the high-carb content isn’t good for those with diabetes. And vitamins, minerals, fiber and more aren’t abundant in items like this. And that’s not good because we benefit from them. They can contribute to good health. And where’s the balance of all the food groups? These make up a healthy plate. And let’s face it, donuts are higher in calories than fresh fruit, veggies and other nutritious fare. This can affect our weight. Carrying too much weight on our frames can put us at risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, some cancers and more.

Let’s take a look at a food that some might consider taboo, (perhaps not quite like a donut), but in a lighter version. I’m talking about pizza, more specifically one slice of Domino’s thin-crust veggie. According to their website, the pizza has baby spinach, mushrooms, diced tomatoes and black olives atop a smaller portion of cheese than on their regular pizza. It has 135 calories, 250 milligrams (mg) of sodium 2 grams (g) of saturated fat and 2 g of sugar.

I’m not crazy about the amount of sodium, but it’s not terrible. I particularly don’t like the saturated fat content. It doesn’t appear that Domino’s uses low-fat, low-sodium cheese, so asking for less cheese can lower the saturated fat and sodium and either skipping the olives or asking for less can also lower the sodium. But the veggies contain loads of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, fiber, phosphorus, zinc, iron, choline, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, manganese, lycopene and more. Wow, what a list! There’s health benefit for just about every part of our bodies.

Now let’s examine a Maple Frosted donut from Dunkin Donuts. It has 270 calories, 7 g of saturated fat, 14 g of sugar and 340 mg of sodium. Calorie-wise, the donut is equivalent to two slices of the Domino’s veggie thin-crust pizza. Two slices contain 270 calories, 4 g of saturated fat, 4 g of sugar and 500 mg of sodium. Sodium is the only area where the donut is better. But I’ve mentioned ways this can be lowered in the pizza. There’s not much we can do to change the nutrition value of a donut.

And what about the vitamins and minerals in the donut? Dunkin’ Donuts reports very little. There’s no long list like that found in Domino’s veggie pizza. While donuts may have some vitamins and minerals like folate, choline and iron, the amounts don’t come close to that in the pizza. And the veggie pizza can be considered almost a complete balanced meal. It has protein, grain, dairy and veggies. All that’s missing is fruit, but I’d also add a side salad.

So while equal in calories, which would be the better choice, one Dunkin’ Donuts Marble Frosted donut or two slices of Domino’s thin-crust veggie pizza? You tell me.


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