The first half of 2017 was spent chomping down my favorite, my one ultimate weakness DUNKIN DONUTS. Growing up on the east coast, Dunkies was a huge part of my life and over the years my feelings of love have been quite evident when it came to those tasty donuts. I would joke about how they knew my order at the drive thru and having a dozen or so present when I met with clients was the standard. Donuts were a big part of my life. Dunkin that is. They are something I never thought I would give up. As much as I enjoyed burying my face in them the after effects were not good. Since really diving into food and how everything I eat makes me feel, like many other things – I had to wonder, what’s in those donuts? And like many things theses days, the nutrition information is somewhat of a Magna Carta of bad stuff. But is there hope?
DUNKIN MAKES CHANGES
Like many in the food industry, Dunkin is making changes. News last year about cutting its menu and potentially changing its name was only the beginning. In a recent announcement, Dunkin announcement it’s commitment to “cleaner” menus in 2018. By the end of this year, they play to remove artificial dyes across their menu, including donut icings, fillings and toppings, as well as frozen beverages such as COOLATTA® frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings.
In August 2017, Dunkin Donuts announces it’s cutting half the menu, toying with the idea of removing “Donuts” from the brand name.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER STUFF?
So they’re removing artificial dyes, does that mean the donuts are healthier? I remained curious and did some digging because aside from me loving and craving their donuts often, I had absolutely no idea what was in them.
I looked into it and none of it made sense, but a recent article in Cooking Light Magazine shed some light on not only the mighty 30 that make up a glazed donuts.
1.) Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (including wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron as ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid)
“Wheat flour” simply means wheat that has been milled (meaning the hard shell, or bran, and germ have been rubbed off) and ground into flour. Unfortunately a lot of the healthy nutrients are in the bran and germ (which is why unmilled, or “whole” wheat is better for you). So this flour has been “enriched” with those other ingredients—a mix of B vitamins and iron. While it’s better for you than unenriched flour would be, as you might imagine, it’s not quite the same.
Sometimes flour is bleached, so it looks nice and clean and white. But that’s less necessary if you’re adding in colors and other additives, so in this case, they’re specifying that the flour is “unbleached.”
2.) Palm Oil
A type of vegetable oil, palm oil has been controversial for the harmful environmental effects that come with farming and making it, as well as its effects on human health. The World Wildlife Fund reports that palm oil production results in the devastation of large forests and natural habitats in Indonesia and Malaysia. Additionally, palm oil is higher in saturated fats than other oils, making it less heart-healthy.
Dunkin’ Donuts has said they now use 100% sustainable palm oil, though this does not address its poor nutritional value. However, since the FDA’s announcement to phase out trans fats by 2018, palm oil has become an increasingly popular replacement for in processed foods.
This is a common sweetener found in baked goods. Dextrose is a simple sugar derived from corn. In other words, it’s added sugar.
4.) Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is another type of vegetable oil and a common fixture on the ingredient lists of a variety of food products from salad dressing to baked goods to snack crackers.
Why? Soybeans are easy and inexpensive to grow. In fact, they’re the second most-planted crop in the United States. Whether soybean oil, soy flour, or soy letchin, all of these ingredients are derived from the versatile soybean.
Remember little miss Muffett eating her curds and whey? Whey (like curds) is a byproduct of cheesemaking. It looks like a thin, watery milk, and is basically a milk protein. Whey contains lactose, so those with dairy allergies should avoid foods with this ingredient.
There are 2% or less of these:
6.) Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda)
Sodium acid pyrophosphate, which is sometimes called disodium pyrophosphate, is a dry powder acid. It reacts with the baking soda (which is a base) to make a chemical-based leavener—it’s basically what baking powder does. This helps baked goods rise while also lending a light and airy texture.
7.) Defatted Soy Flour
Made from ground soybeans, this protein-rich flour can enhance the flavor, texture, moisture, and color of baked goods. “Defatted” simply means the soybean’s natural oils have been removed during processing to minimize fat.
8.) Wheat Starch
Like corn starch, wheat starch is used to thicken and stabilize foods.
9.) Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cellulose Gum, Soy Lecithin
All of these are considered emulsifiers that help bind ingredients together. In baked goods, they can give doughs a smooth and uniform texture.
10.) Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum
Both of these are thickeners also used to enhance the texture of baked goods.
11.) Artificial Flavor
Unlike natural flavors, which are derived from plants, artificial flavors are chemical mixtures. They are often manufactured to mimic the characteristics of natural flavors, but at a lower cost.
12.) Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative)
A milk protein that acts as a thickener in foods, sodium caseinate may be in foods labeled as non-dairy. Because it contains small amounts of lactose, the FDA warns that those with milk allergies should avoid foods with this ingredient.
An additive that extends shelf life of baked goods.
14.) Colored with (Turmeric and Annatto Extracts, Beta Carotene)
Turmeric, Annatto, and Beta Carotene are natural food dyes derived from fruits and vegetables.
Other ingredients include water, skim milk, yeast, salt, and eggs as I’m sure you expected.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably feel as I do which is maybe it’s better to make them myself if I get a the temptation and if you don’t feel that way, that’s fine too. I love Dunkies, but this may get me kicked out of their loyalty program. Moreso than ever I’m recognizing that when cravings come, it’s best I look for the next best alternative, skip the preservatives, make it myself or take a trip to one of my favorite local donut shop….and in Dayton we’ve got quite a few! Here’s options for both!