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Are Donuts Bad For You

by Lyndon Langley
Are Donuts Bad For You

Are Donuts Bad For You

You know what’s really important in life? Fats! And carbs! Oh my God, so many carbs! They’re all good for you, though, right?!? Or maybe not…
There are those who swear by the health benefits of fat, believing (as I do) that we need some healthy fats to keep our metabolism up, help us absorb nutrients, and even fight inflammation. I’m also among them; there are plenty of studies out there showing how essential fats can improve things like heart disease and diabetes risk factors. But here’s the thing—we eat too much fat already, and too often.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 7 percent of total calories, while the World Health Organization recommends less than 10 percent of daily calories come from saturated fat. The problem is that most Americans consume more than 30 percent of their calories from fats, and as much as 35 percent from saturated ones. That means about half of us get over 20 percent of our daily calories from fats, and nearly half of people eat over 40 percent of their calories from fats.

This may sound like a lot, but it’s actually pretty normal when compared to other countries. A recent study published in The Lancet found that Americans eat an average of 38 percent of their calories from fats, which is twice the amount recommended by WHO. In France and Japan, the number was closer to 25 percent. Meanwhile, Brazilians ate 19 percent, and South Africans 16 percent.
So why does this matter? Well, eating too many fats isn’t necessarily a problem if they’re unsaturated. It depends on whether or not these fats have been altered through processing. For instance, trans fats are known carcinogens that raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels without raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Trans fat is commonly used in hydrogenated oils and shortenings, and will be listed under “hydrogenated” oil on nutritional labels.

On the flip side of the spectrum are polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocados, walnuts, etc., which are considered anti-inflammatory and generally beneficial for cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, these “healthy” fats can easily become unhealthy fats if processed into margarine or shortening. This happens when manufacturers mix two different kinds of oils together, resulting in partially hydrogenated oils, which are technically called “partially hydrogenated polyunsaturated.” These contain high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory. So even if you think you’re buying healthy olive oil, it could end up being worse for you than regular old butter.
Similarly, coconut oil has long been praised for its purported ability to lower cholesterol and promote weight loss, but again, this doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which the body uses differently than long chain triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs typically turn to stored fat for energy, whereas MCTs use ketones instead. Some experts believe that consuming too much MCT can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic problems, so it’s best consumed in moderation. Coconut oil is touted as having lots of antioxidants. However, research shows that the antioxidant properties aren’t strong enough to offset the negative effects of using it as cooking oil.

Now let’s talk about sugar. Sure, refined sugars can provide a quick burst of sweetness that hits your taste buds first, but the rest of the time they wreak havoc on your insides. When absorbed by your bloodstream, sugar causes spikes in blood glucose levels, which can damage cells throughout your body. Your pancreas is responsible for keeping blood sugar level steady, but if you consistently give it leeway by eating sugary foods, eventually it’ll stop working properly. Over time, this leads to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other conditions associated with excess weight gain.
Sugar is everywhere now, including in everything from cereals to salad dressing. Most packaged snacks contain hidden sources of sugar because manufacturers are allowed to list them under names like maltodextrin and dextrose. Even seemingly innocent choices like fruit juice can cause harm if you drink too much. According to one study cited in Men’s Fitness magazine, 100% fruit juice packs as much sugar per glass as soda. Another study showed that kids who drank mostly orange juice had higher BMI measurements than children who drank milk.

All of these facts combined should make anyone pause before reaching for another donut. Yes, it’s true that you need some fats and carbohydrates every day, but if you want to maintain optimal health, you don’t need to go overboard. Eat well-rounded meals featuring vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and moderate quantities of dairy products. Avoid fried and highly processed foods whenever possible, especially those loaded with sodium and saturated fats. Instead, choose healthier alternatives, such as oatmeal, hummus, salads, fish, chicken, and fresh veggies.
If you’d prefer to kick off your new donutless lifestyle with something sweet, check out my favorite healthy dessert recipes.

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