Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Krispy Kreme Bad For You?

Also Known As: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts



Short answer

While a Krispy Kreme doughnut can fit as an occasional treat, frequent consumption is not advisable due to high sugar, saturated fat, and calorie content which contribute to health risks like heart disease and diabetes. Healthier alternatives are available, but moderation remains key.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of a Krispy Kreme Doughnut

When assessing the nutritional content of a Krispy Kreme doughnut, we consider several key factors: macronutrients, micronutrients, and caloric density. Below, we'll break down these components to better understand how a single Krispy Kreme doughnut might fit into a balanced diet.

Calories: The caloric content of a Krispy Kreme doughnut can vary depending on the variety, but a classic Original Glazed doughnut contains approximately 190 calories. This represents a significant portion of the daily caloric intake for an average adult, considering a small snack.


  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the main macronutrient in a doughnut, with one Original Glazed offering around 22 grams, of which 10 grams are sugars. Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy but are not particularly satiating, potentially leading to overconsumption.
  • Fats: Krispy Kreme doughnuts contain a notable amount of fat; an Original Glazed has about 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of which are saturated fats. Saturated fats should be limited in the diet to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Proteins: With only 3 grams of protein, a doughnut is not a significant source of this nutrient, which is essential for the repair and building of tissues, as well as for feeling full.

Micronutrients: Doughnuts are not a meaningful source of vitamins and minerals. While they may contain small amounts of iron and B vitamins from the fortified flour used, they do not provide substantial amounts necessary for daily nutritional requirements.

It's essential to consider that the nutritional content can change when additional toppings, fillings, and icing varieties are added to a doughnut. These additions usually increase the sugar, fat, and calorie content of the treat.

To exemplify the differences, let’s compare the nutritional profile of the Original Glazed doughnut to a more decadent flavor:

Nutrient Original Glazed (per doughnut) Chocolate Iced Glazed with Sprinkles (per doughnut)
Calories 190 250
Total Fat (g) 11 13
Saturated Fat (g) 5 7
Trans Fat (g) 0 0
Cholesterol (mg) 0 5
Sodium (mg) 85 100
Total Carbohydrates (g) 22 34
Dietary Fiber (g) 0 1
Total Sugars (g) 10 20
Protein (g) 3 3

Considering that the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend keeping added sugars to less than 10% of daily caloric intake and saturated fats to less than 10% of daily caloric intake for an average adult, it becomes clear that indulging in Krispy Kreme doughnuts should be approached with caution from a nutritional standpoint.

To conclude this section, while Krispy Kreme doughnuts can be an occasional treat, their standard nutritional profile does not align with the key tenets of a nutrient-rich diet. However, enjoying them in moderation is key to balancing pleasure with healthful eating practices.

Saturated Fats and Trans Fats in Doughnuts

When considering the health impact of indulging in a Krispy Kreme doughnut, it's crucial to address the content of saturated fats and trans fats. These types of fats have been closely linked to changes in cholesterol levels and heart health. A single original glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme contains approximately 8 grams of fat, of which nearly half are saturated fats. The presence of saturated fat can raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is often referred to as the 'bad cholesterol' due to its association with an increased risk of heart disease.

Trans fats, although minimally present in Krispy Kreme doughnuts following the FDA's trans fat ban efforts, may still occur in trace amounts due to the nature of the ingredients used. The hydrogenation process that used to create trans fats is now heavily regulated, yet it's important to be vigilant about the fact that 'partially hydrogenated oils,' a primary source of trans fats, were once a staple in the production of doughnuts.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats to less than 5% to 6% of your total daily calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that's about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fats. Eating just one Krispy Kreme doughnut can bring an individual dangerously close to this limit, considering the other foods eaten throughout the day that might also contain saturated fats.

While the trans fat content might now be low, it's important to note that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption according to health experts, as they can increase overall cholesterol levels and promote inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

  • Saturated fats: A single Krispy Kreme doughnut contains nearly 4 grams of saturated fats, which is around a third of the daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association for someone on a 2,000 calorie diet.
  • Trans fats: Krispy Kreme has worked to reduce trans fats in their products, but consumers should be cautious about any partially hydrogenated oils still lingering in doughnut ingredients.

When considering the occasional treat, it's also prudent to take into account the cumulative effect of saturated and trans fats from your overall diet rather than considering a single item in isolation. Regularly consuming high-fat items like doughnuts can contribute to an increased risk of health issues over time, especially when not balanced with a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods.

It's always advised to read nutritional labels and consult with healthcare providers to understand better the full impact of dietary choices on your personal health, especially if you have a higher risk of heart disease or other fat-related health concerns.

Sugar Content and its Effect on Health

Indulging in a Krispy Kreme doughnut is a sweet treat many people enjoy, but the sugar content in these doughnuts can have several effects on your health that are worth considering. The classic Original Glazed® Doughnut contains a significant amount of sugar, and while the occasional treat is generally fine for most individuals, frequent consumption could lead to various health issues.

An average-sized Krispy Kreme doughnut, for instance, has about 10 grams of sugar. While this might not seem like much at first glance, it's important to note that the American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar intake to 25 grams per day and men to 36 grams per day. Consuming just three or four Krispy Kreme doughnuts could easily surpass these recommendations.

Effects of Excessive Sugar on Long-Term Health:

  • Weight Gain: High sugar intake is associated with increased calorie consumption and can contribute to unwanted weight gain over time.
  • Increased risk of heart disease: Studies have shown that diets high in added sugars can increase triglyceride levels, which may raise the risk of heart disease.
  • Diabetes: Regularly consuming high-sugar foods can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  • Dental Health: Sugary foods like doughnuts contribute to tooth decay and cavities due to the proliferation of bacteria in the mouth that feed on sugar.
  • Energy Flux: A high intake of sugar often leads to a cycle of energy highs followed by crashes, which can affect mood and productivity.

Sugar and Its Impact on Metabolic Health:

It's also critical to address the impact of a high-sugar diet on metabolic health. Sugar, particularly in refined forms found in pastries, can lead to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. This syndrome includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Expert Opinions:

Nutrition experts consistently warn about the dangers of excessive sugar intake. For instance, the Harvard School of Public Health mentions that high intake of sugar, especially from sugary drinks, is linked to poor nutrition, weight gain, and increased risk of chronic diseases. When it comes to sugary treats like doughnuts, moderation is key, and they should not be a staple in one's diet.

In conclusion, while the occasional Krispy Kreme doughnut as part of a balanced diet isn't likely to cause significant harm to a healthy individual, awareness of its sugar content and the associated health risks is crucial for making informed dietary decisions. For those with specific health concerns, such as diabetes, heart conditions, or weight management issues, it's especially important to consider these factors when indulging in sugary treats.

Addictive Nature of High-Sugar Treats

When addressing the potential downsides of indulging in high-sugar treats like those offered by Krispy Kreme, it's essential to understand their addictive qualities. The human palate is naturally drawn to sweet flavors—this is an evolutionary trait that once helped our ancestors identify energy-rich foods. However, in the modern food landscape, our love for sweetness can be a double-edged sword, particularly when it comes to foods with added sugars.

Research indicates that sugar can trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain as certain addictive substances. In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that sugary foods could lead to a rapid release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure-reward system. Dopamine release during food consumption can become particularly pronounced when we eat foods that are high in sugar, which can lead to a cycle of cravings and withdrawal symptoms akin to substance addiction.

  • Heightened dopamine release after sugar intake
  • Similar brain activity patterns to addictive substances
  • Possible withdrawal symptoms and cravings

Moreover, resilience to the addictive potential of high-sugar treats varies among individuals. Genetic predispositions, lifestyle factors, and even stress levels can affect how likely someone is to experience addiction-like responses to foods like doughnuts. This can lead to a pattern of overconsumption, which over time contributes to a variety of health concerns. The occasional Krispy Kreme doughnut is unlikely to lead to addiction, but regular consumption might establish a difficult-to-interrupt pattern of eating behavior, particularly in individuals with a high sensitivity to sugar's effects on the brain.

Health experts advocate for moderation when incorporating such high-sugar treats into one’s diet. They emphasize the significance of balance and the incorporation of more nutrient-dense foods to mitigate the risks associated with the addictive nature of sugary foods. Limiting intake not only helps avoid the trap of addiction but also contributes to overall healthier lifestyle choices.

Recommendations Benefits
Moderation in consumption Reduced risk of addiction-like eating behaviors
Incorporation of nutrient-dense foods Better overall nutrition
Limited intake of added sugars Lower risk of health issues linked to sugar overconsumption

It's worth noting that understanding the addictive potential of high-sugar treats like Krispy Kreme doughnuts isn't just about individuated eating behavior, it also plays a crucial role in public health. Public health initiatives often target sugar consumption as a modifiable dietary choice with the goal of reducing the prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. By being informed about the addictive nature of sugar, individuals can make more conscious food choices that align with a healthier lifestyle.

Frequency of Consumption and Serving Sizes

When discussing whether Krispy Kreme doughnuts are bad for you, it is essential to consider how often they are eaten and in what quantities. Doughnuts, as a treat high in sugar and fat, are generally not recommended as a staple in a balanced diet. Instead, they should be considered an occasional indulgence. The frequency with which one might enjoy a Krispy Kreme doughnut can vary widely based on individual health goals, dietary restrictions, and nutritional needs.

To better understand the impact of doughnut consumption, let's break down the components:

  • Sugar Content: A single original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut contains 10 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. Frequent consumption can lead to an intake of sugar well above these recommendations.
  • Fat Content: There are 11 grams of fat, including 5 grams of saturated fat, in one original glazed doughnut. Diets high in saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Caloric Density: Each original glazed offering has about 190 calories. While this number may seem manageable, it's important to remember these are 'empty calories' with minimal nutritional benefit, so they should fit within your daily caloric goals.

When it comes to serving sizes, recognizing that one doughnut is often not the only item consumed in a sitting is important. The temptation to indulge in more than one is common, especially when presented with a variety of delicious, freshly made options. Making mindful decisions about portion size is crucial to maintaining a balanced diet.

So how often is it acceptable to treat yourself? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, the consensus among nutritionists is that for an otherwise healthy person, a doughnut can be a monthly treat rather than a daily habit. When choosing to indulge, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Stick to a single doughnut to satisfy your craving without overindulging.
  • Plan your treat on a day when you've been particularly active to help offset the additional calorie intake.
  • Balancing out your diet with nutrient-dense foods throughout the day can compensate for the lack of vitamins and minerals in a doughnut.

It is also advisable to consider the timing of consuming such treats. Having a sugary doughnut first thing in the morning might predispose you to energy spikes and crashes, potentially leading to further cravings throughout the day. Alternatively, enjoying one as a dessert after a meal with protein and fiber might help mitigate some of these effects.

Ultimately, Krispy Kreme doughnuts can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. The key is to know your own dietary needs and to enjoy these treats responsibly, being conscious of their effects on your overall health.

Healthier Doughnut Alternatives

When it comes to satisfying that doughnut craving, there are indeed healthier alternatives that can provide the sweetness and texture you might be looking for. Here are some options that offer a more nutritious profile compared to the traditional offerings of doughnut chains such as Krispy Kreme:

  • Baked Doughnuts: Baking instead of frying can significantly reduce the fat content of doughnuts. Many recipes use whole wheat flour, natural sweeteners, or incorporate fruits and vegetables, like apples or carrots, to add fiber and additional nutrients.
  • Almond Flour or Coconut Flour Doughnuts: These gluten-free options not only cater to those with gluten intolerance but often have a lower carbohydrate content and a higher protein profile, thanks to the use of these alternative flours.
  • Mini Doughnuts: Opting for mini doughnuts can help you control portion size, thus reducing calorie intake. Be sure to check the ingredients, as some mini doughnuts may still be high in sugar and unhealthy fats.
  • Homemade Doughnuts with Healthy Toppings: When making doughnuts at home, you have control over the ingredients. Using toppings like dark chocolate, nuts, or a light dusting of powdered sugar can make a big difference in the overall health profile of your treat.
  • Whole-Grain Doughnuts: Doughnuts made with whole grains provide more fiber, which can help with digestion and provide a longer feeling of satiety. Look out for options that list whole grains as the first ingredient.
  • Protein-Enhanced Doughnuts: Some stores and online retailers offer doughnuts enhanced with protein powders, aimed at fitness enthusiasts looking to indulge without straying too far from their nutrition goals. These are often lower in sugar as well.
  • Air-Fried Doughnuts: Air fryers use a minimal amount of oil to create a texture similar to traditional frying. While still a novelty, some healthier doughnut recipes adapt well to this cooking method, significantly cutting down on fat content.
  • Fruit and Nut Doughnuts: Incorporating dried fruits, seeds, and nuts into the doughnut batter not only enhances the nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats but also adds a satisfying crunch and natural sweetness.
  • Vegan Doughnuts: Vegan doughnuts often replace eggs and dairy with healthier ingredients such as apple sauce, plant-based milks, and flaxseeds. This can result in a lower cholesterol doughnut, beneficial for those monitoring their heart health.

When exploring these alternatives, be mindful that "healthier" does not always equate to "healthy." It's essential to look at the overall nutrient profile, including the sugar, fat, and calorie content. Moderation is key, even with healthier options. For instance, some baked doughnuts may be lower in fat but could still carry a hefty amount of sugar. Aim to enjoy these treats occasionally, and complement them with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

For those interested in the exact numbers, consult nutritional information provided by the alternative doughnut brand or recipe, or even better, make a batch yourself to have full control over the portions and ingredients used. This way, you can tweak the recipe to further align with your dietary goals and share the love with friends and family, spreading the joy of a healthier indulgence.

Remember, a balanced approach towards diet allows room for occasional treats, and with these healthier doughnut alternatives, you can indulge a little more responsibly.

Frequently asked questions

The nutritional content of Krispy Kreme doughnuts varies by flavor. Classic options like the Original Glazed are on the lower end calorically, but if you're looking for options with reduced sugars, it's best to consult Krispy Kreme's nutritional information for specific varieties and choose accordingly.

Yes, doughnuts, especially those high in saturated fats like the Krispy Kreme Original Glazed, can impact cholesterol levels. Saturated fats can raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or 'bad' cholesterol, potentially increasing the risk of heart disease.

If you're monitoring your sugar intake, you can still enjoy Krispy Kreme doughnuts by doing so rarely and in moderation. Additionally, pair them with a meal that's high in protein and fiber to help mitigate blood sugar spikes.

While there's no 'best' time to eat a doughnut, consuming one as a dessert after a meal rather than on an empty stomach can help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar and energy fluctuations due to the accompanying fiber and protein in the meal.

Ask a question about Krispy Kreme and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood sugar
  • energy spikes & crashes
  • potential for addiction-like cravings

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • higher likelihood of diabetes
  • dental health issues
  • possible metabolic syndrome

Ingredients to be aware of

  • saturated fats
  • trans fats
  • added sugars

Healthier alternatives

  • baked doughnuts
  • almond/coconut flour doughnuts
  • mini doughnuts
  • homemade with healthy toppings
  • whole-grain doughnuts
  • protein-enhanced doughnuts
  • air-fried doughnuts
  • doughnuts with fruits and nuts
  • vegan doughnuts

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Katz Glazed Donut Holes

  • Gluten-free treat
  • Dairy-free product
  • Nut-free snack
  • Soy-free indulgence
  • Kosher certified
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-20-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-20-2024

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