Even though most of us know that, really, muffins are just cupcakes for adults, for many they are still the go-to to-go breakfast. Faced with the choice between a meaty-eggy fast food sandwich and a muffin, it’s pretty safe to assume that the healthy eater will opt for the muffin. But is it really the healthier option? Looking at the nutritional content of muffins from the country’s top coffeehouse chains, I was shocked (shocked!) to see some of the numbers behind many an earnest-seeming muffin.
Although muffins don’t carry the same load of saturated fat and outrageous levels of sodium that other fast-food breakfasts do, they make up for it in calories and sugar. Would you believe that one of the muffins I found has only 40 calories less than that of Carl’s Jr Breakfast Burger–which is not just a burger, but a burger with a fried egg, bacon, American cheese and hash brown nuggets!
The World Health Organization recommends limiting sodium consumption to under 2000 mg per day for the average person–most of these muffins have at least 25 percent of that. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association recommends that the average woman should consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day–all but one of these muffins exceed that, some by more than 100 percent. And as for calories, well…the calories. The most benign of these muffins has almost the same amount of calories as an Egg McMuffin with a side of hash browns.
Though in all fairness to the muffin, the lack of meat and saturated fat does make them shine in comparison to, say, the breakfast burger–just be cognizant that by opting for one of these (or similar) muffins in the morning, you should skip dessert after dinner since you’ve already had it for breakfast.