Grabbing a muffin with your morning coffee couldn’t be easier – but you might want to reconsider buying this baked good. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by registered dietitian Lucia Weiler of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc. Together, they break down the nutritional value of these fast-food muffins.
According to Lucia, having certain kinds of muffins can be as bad as having a cupcake for breakfast.
“If you choose a large muffin, it’s 400 calories, 24 grams of sugar, which is six teaspoons, so it can be like a cupcake,” she explains. “But it doesn’t have to be.”
“Healthy muffins would be smaller in size, have less fat, and contain fibre and fruit if possible,” she adds.
Tim Hortons Whole Grain Blueberry Muffin (Healthiest and Lucia’s favourite: 350 calories, 14 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 430 mg sodium, 5 g fibre, 24 g sugars)
“This one looks like the healthiest choice,” says Andrea. “It’s got oats.”
“Lots of blueberries,” adds Lucia. “Very moist and flavourful.
When it came to taste, this one won our dietitian’s vote.
“It had a crunchy flavour, and lots of blueberries,” she explains.
While Lucia notes that none of these muffins are truly healthy, this is the best of the bunch when it comes to size, calories, sugar and fat.
“It has the lowest fat and the highest fibre,” she explains. “However, it’s still not a healthy muffin. A healthy muffin would be half the size.”
Starbucks Buttermilk Blueberry Muffin (Least healthy: 380 calories, 18 g fat (3 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 28 g sugars)
“This one looks like a cake mix batter that they’ve used,” Andrea comments. “And there’s a lot of sugar on the top.”
“It tastes sweeter, too,” adds Lucia.
Unfortunately, this muffin was the least healthy of the five sampled.
“We saw that because of the sugar coating,” explains Lucia. “So it was higher in calories and higher in fat and saturated fat than any of the other ones.”
McDonald's Blueberry Muffin (410 calories, 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 320 g sodium, 2 g fibre, 33 g sugars)
“A little bit paler, some more blueberries and more topping,” says Lucia. “It’s a little bit plainer but I don’t mind it.”
Timothy’s Double Blueberry Muffin (Andrea’s favourite: 360 calories, 13 g fat (1 g saturated), 340 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 28 g sugars)
“I taste a lot of blueberries, you almost can’t avoid them in your bite,” says Andrea. “I don’t taste a lot of sugar to it, it just tastes good.”
Andrea chose this as her favourite muffin, but noted it was a toss up between Timothy’s and Second Cup.
Second Cup Blueberry Muffin (380 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 540 mg sodium, 2 g fibre, 28 g sugars)
“Lots of blueberries and a nice brown colour,” Lucia comments. “Nice and fluffy, too.”
“It’s really similar to taste test No.4,” Andrea adds.
“All these muffins are higher in calories and higher in fat than a healthy muffin would be,” Lucia notes. “They’re just below 400 calories and have between 11-18 grams of fat. That’s two to three times higher than what a healthy muffin should be, which is five grams of fat or less and 200 calories or less.”
“So half a muffin is what a healthy muffin would be.”
“Bran is an awesome ingredient, and it makes muffins healthier,” she adds. “Whole wheat and other whole grains also are great ingredients.”
If you want to ditch the muffin all together and go for a healthier breakfast option, Lucia says there are lots of delicious foods out there to satisfy every craving.
“Oatmeal with some fruit, or a whole grain wrap with some nut butter and a banana, roll it up and away you go,” she suggests. “Yogurt with a piece of fruit is also a great alternative, so think outside the muffin box.”
What's your go-to breakfast food? Let us know in the comments.