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

Is Pillsbury Dough Bad For You?



Short answer

Pillsbury Dough products often contain additives, high sodium, sugars, and trans fats, which can be concerning. With limited nutrients and fiber, they're not the best choice for a balanced diet. While not the healthiest option, occasional consumption in small quantities is less likely to pose a health risk if balanced with nutrient-dense foods.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content Analysis of Pillsbury Dough

Examining the nutritional content of Pillsbury Dough products is essential to determine their impact on one's diet. Typically, these doughs include ingredients that can be found in most pastry products such as enriched flour, water, sugar, and hydrogenated oils. However, the specific nutritional value can vary depending on the product—be it crescent rolls, biscuits, or pie crusts. Here we will break down the common nutritional components found in a standard serving of Pillsbury Dough products.

Calories: A single serving of Pillsbury Dough, which is often one biscuit or roll, ranges between 100 to 200 calories. Consuming these products in moderation is crucial since they can contribute significantly to the caloric intake of one's diet.


  • Carbohydrates: A typical serving contains between 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, with a portion of these being sugars. Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy, yet the inclusion of processed sugars may raise concerns regarding their impact on blood sugar levels.
  • Fats: Pillsbury Dough products generally contain between 2 to 10 grams of fat per serving. This fat content is partly due to hydrogenated oils, a source of trans fats which the FDA has acknowledged as unsafe for consumption in any amount.
  • Proteins: The protein content is relatively low, averaging around 2 to 4 grams per serving. While they do provide a degree of satiety, these products should not be relied upon as a primary protein source.


Enriched flour adds some essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron and B vitamins. However, these levels are generally minimal, and the products should not serve as a sole source for these nutrients. Detailed breakdowns of micronutrient content can vary, but key vitamins and minerals may include:

Nutrient Approximate Amount per Serving
Iron 1-2mg
Folic Acid 30-60mcg
Niacin 1-2mg
Riboflavin 0.1-0.2mg
Thiamin 0.1-0.3mg

Sodium Content:

One of the most significant concerns with prepackaged dough products like Pillsbury is their sodium content. A single serving can carry over 300mg of sodium, which is a considerable fraction of the recommended daily limit of 2,300mg. High sodium intake has been linked to various health issues, including high blood pressure and heart disease.

Fiber Content:

The fiber content in Pillsbury Dough is negligible, with less than 1 gram per serving. Dietary fiber is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system, and the low levels found in these products do not contribute meaningfully to the daily recommended intake of 25 to 30 grams.

Artificial Additives:

It’s also pertinent to address the presence of artificial additives in Pillsbury Dough. These can include chemical leavening agents, emulsifiers, and preservatives like BHT. While these ingredients are approved for use in food products, their long-term health effects are still debated among the scientific community, and some consumers may wish to avoid them.

Nutrient-Dense Alternatives:

For those looking to improve the nutritional profile of their diets, considering alternatives to conventional dough products may be beneficial. Options like whole wheat, almond flour, or homemade doughs can provide increased fiber, reduced sugar content, and the elimination of trans fats and artificial additives.

It is important for consumers to consider these nutritional factors when integrating products like Pillsbury Dough into their diets. Moderation and an awareness of daily nutrient recommendations can help mitigate any potential negative health impacts.

Trans Fats and Saturated Fats in Processed Dough Products

When evaluating whether a processed food product like Pillsbury Dough is detrimental to your health, one critical aspect to examine is its content of trans fats and saturated fats. These types of fats have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions when consumed in excess. Let's break down how these fats are present in processed dough products and what the implications might be for your overall health.

Understanding Trans Fats

Trans fats, also known as trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that can be naturally found in some animal products but are mostly created through an industrial process called hydrogenation. This process adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, turning it into a solid which enhances the shelf life and stability of the oil in food products. Unfortunately, trans fats are linked to increased levels of LDL ('bad') cholesterol and decreased levels of HDL ('good') cholesterol, contributing to the buildup of plaques in arteries and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The good news is, due to these health concerns, many food manufacturers, including the makers of Pillsbury Dough, have reduced or eliminated trans fats from their products. However, it is essential to carefully read ingredient lists for partially hydrogenated oils, as this indicates the presence of trans fats. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps to phase out added trans fats in processed foods, which is a positive move towards better cardiovascular health.

Examining Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are another type of fat that have been widely scrutinized for their health impact. Found predominantly in animal products and some plant oils, these fats are solid at room temperature and can raise LDL cholesterol levels, potentially increasing the risk for heart disease. Processed dough products like those offered by Pillsbury may contain saturated fats, often coming from hydrogenated oils and dairy ingredients such as butter or cheese.

A close look at the nutritional content of these products is crucial as the American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats make up less than 6% of total daily calories for most adults. For a person eating 2,000 calories a day, this equates to about 13 grams of saturated fats. If processed dough products are a frequent item in your diet, this can quickly add up to a significant intake of saturated fats. It is essential to balance these with foods that are high in unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.

Practical Tips for Consumers

  • Check Labels: Always read nutrition labels and ingredient lists to identify the types and amounts of fats in processed dough products. Look out for terms like 'partially hydrogenated oils' which signal trans fats.
  • Portion Control: Enjoy processed dough products in moderation. Consider portion sizes to manage your intake of saturated fats as part of a balanced diet.
  • Seek Alternatives: Explore recipes for homemade dough that allow for the substitution of saturated fats with healthier fats, such as using oil instead of butter.
  • Balance Your Diet: If you consume products high in saturated fats, balance your diet with foods rich in unsaturated fats and other heart-healthy nutrients.

Informed choices regarding the fats in processed dough products can make a difference in your long-term health. While the occasional indulgence is generally acceptable, consistent mindfulness about trans and saturated fat intake is a key component of a heart-healthy diet.

Additives and Preservatives in Pillsbury Dough

In assessing the nutritional landscape of Pillsbury Dough, it's critical to examine the additives and preservatives these products contain. These chemical substances are routinely used to enhance flavor, improve texture, and extend shelf life. Here, we delve into what these ingredients are, their intended purpose, and the health implications they may carry.

List of Common Additives and Preservatives in Pillsbury Dough:

  • BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene): Commonly used as a preservative to prevent the oxidation of fats, which helps extend shelf life.
  • Sodium Benzoate: Functions as a preservative; it inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, yeast, and fungi.
  • Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate: Serves to strengthen dough and increase its volume, leading to a desirable texture.
  • Monoglycerides and Diglycerides: Emulsifiers that help oil and water to mix, providing consistency in texture.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): A widely used sweetener that enhances flavor.

These additives and preservatives carry out necessary functions for product stability, yet their presence is often a point of concern for health-conscious consumers. For example, ongoing discussions in the scientific community regarding BHA and BHT have raised questions about potential health effects. Animal studies have indicated these antioxidants may have carcinogenic properties (IARC Monographs on the Identification of Carcinogenic Hazards to Humans, 2019). However, it should be noted that the concentrations used in food products are typically well below harmful levels, as regulated by the FDA.

Sodium benzoate, while generally recognized as safe when consumed in small amounts (FDA), may react with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to form benzene, a known carcinogen. However, the occurrence is rare and under the conditions that are not typically found in packaged dough products.

The inclusion of monoglycerides and diglycerides, while largely considered safe, can be problematic for those with strict dietary restrictions. For example, they can be derived from animal sources, posing concerns for vegetarians or those with dietary restrictions due to religious reasons.

High fructose corn syrup, a ubiquitous sweetener in the American diet, has been linked to obesity and metabolic diseases in some epidemiological studies (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004). Its prevalence in numerous processed foods increases the risk of overconsumption, making its presence in Pillsbury Dough a noteworthy consideration for individuals monitoring their sugar intake.

Below is a table summarizing the additives and preservatives in Pillsbury Dough, their purposes, and health considerations:

Additive/Preservative Purpose Health Considerations
BHA/BHT Prevent oxidation of fats. Potential carcinogenic properties; regulated to safe levels.
Sodium Benzoate Inhibits growth of bacteria and fungi. Potential for benzene formation when combined with vitamin C.
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate Improves texture and volume of dough. Considered safe in small amounts.
Monoglycerides and Diglycerides Act as emulsifiers. Source may be of concern for specific diets; generally safe.
HFCS Sweetening agent. Linked to obesity and metabolic diseases; overconsumption risk.

In summary, the impact of these additives and preservatives on individual health can vary based on a variety of factors, including the amounts consumed and an individual’s unique physiology. Consumers who are sensitive to certain additives, or those following strict dietary guidelines, would do well to scrutinize product labels and be mindful of the potential impacts of these commonly used substances.

Sugar Content and Its Impact on Health

When assessing whether an item is detrimental to one's health, sugar content plays a pivotal role. Pillsbury Dough products vary widely in sugar content, depending on the variety (e.g., Cookies, Cinnamon Rolls, etc.), but the concern with high sugar intake is universal. Consuming excessive amounts of added sugars is linked to a range of health issues. Let's break down the potential impacts of the sugar content in Pillsbury Dough on health.

Association with Obesity: Products with high sugar content, such as some varieties of Pillsbury Dough, can contribute to an increased risk of obesity. The body converts excess sugar into fat, leading to weight gain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the correlation between a diet high in added sugars and obesity, particularly among children and adolescents.

Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Regular consumption of high-sugar foods can lead to insulin resistance, a known precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that individuals with higher sugar intake had a significantly increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes compared to those with lower intake.

Heart Health Concerns: It's not just about the calories or potential weight gain. A high sugar diet has been associated with cardiovascular diseases. According to research from the American Heart Association, excessive sugar intake can raise blood pressure and triglyceride levels, which may increase the risk of heart disease.

Dental Health Problems: The sugars in dough can adhere to teeth and become a source of food for bacteria, leading to tooth decay. The World Dental Federation warns that sugars are the most significant dietary risk factor for dental diseases.

Impact on Metabolic Health: Overconsumption of sugar is linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and abnormal cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease.

Nutrient Displacement: Foods high in sugar, low in fiber and essential nutrients often replace more nutritious food choices, resulting in a diet that's lacking in vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health.

To provide context, let's break down an example of a typical serving of Pillsbury Dough, specifically Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

Ingredient Amount per Serving
Sugars 10g
Added Sugars 10g
Percentage of Daily Value 20%

Nutrition guidelines, such as those from the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommend that added sugars make up less than 10% of your daily calories. In the context of a 2,000 calorie diet, this equates to no more than 200 calories from added sugars, or about 50 grams per day. Therefore, one serving of certain Pillsbury Dough products could utilize a significant portion of the recommended daily intake for added sugars.

It's crucial for consumers to understand the potential health impacts of a high-sugar diet and make informed choices. Reading labels and controlling portion sizes are essential strategies to manage sugar consumption when enjoying products like Pillsbury Dough.

The Glycemic Index of Pillsbury Dough Products

The glycemic index (GI) is a valuable tool used to understand how different foods affect blood sugar levels. A food’s GI measures how quickly it raises blood glucose levels compared to pure glucose, which has a GI of 100. Foods with a high GI cause more rapid spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to issues for individuals with insulin sensitivity, such as those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Here, we'll delve into the GI of Pillsbury Dough products and discuss their potential impact on blood sugar management.

Typically, processed, carbohydrate-rich foods like those found in some Pillsbury products tend to have higher glycemic indexes. This means that consumption of these products can potentially lead to quick elevations in blood sugar. However, it's important to note that the glycemic response can vary based on other factors such as fat and fiber content, which can moderate the rate of sugar entering the bloodstream.

Listed below are some common Pillsbury Dough products and the estimated glycemic index for each:

  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls - High GI (Typically above 70)
  • Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls - High GI (Typically above 70)
  • Pillsbury Pie Crusts - Moderate to High GI (Typically 60-70)
  • Pillsbury Pizza Dough - Moderate GI (Typically 55-70)

It is essential to recognize that there are currently no specific GI values assigned to Pillsbury products in the published glycemic index databases, so the above estimates are based on similar food compositions. For a more accurate GI determination, these products would need to be scientifically tested.

For individuals concerned about blood sugar management, considering the GI of foods is a crucial aspect of dietary planning. When consuming high GI foods like those found in some Pillsbury Dough products, pairing them with low GI foods such as lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber-rich vegetables can help balance the overall glycemic impact of a meal. It's also advisable to consume these products in moderation, mindful of the portion size, and as part of a balanced diet.

Furthermore, reviewing the nutritional information of these products can provide additional insight into how they may affect an individual's blood sugar. For instance, the presence of dietary fiber, which has a lower GI and can slow the absorption of glucose, might be beneficial. Unfortunately, many refined flour products, such as those offered by Pillsbury, are typically low in fiber, leading to a quicker glycemic response.

As always, for individuals with specific health concerns, it's recommended to consult with a dietitian or healthcare provider for guidance tailored to their unique dietary needs and health goals.

Potential Allergens and Sensitivities with Pillsbury Dough

When considering whether Pillsbury Dough products might be bad for certain individuals, it is crucial to examine the potential allergens and sensitivities they may contain. Here we will delve into common allergens found in various Pillsbury Dough products and discuss how they might affect those with specific dietary restrictions or allergies.

Common Allergens in Pillsbury Dough:

  • Wheat: Pillsbury dough products, such as their biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and pie crusts, generally contain wheat flour. Wheat is a primary source of gluten, which can trigger adverse reactions in people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
  • Milk: Many Pillsbury products, especially those that are cream-based or buttery in flavor, may contain milk or derivatives of milk, making them unsuitable for individuals with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy.
  • Soy: Soy is another common ingredient, often present in the form of soybean oil or soy lecithin. It's essential for individuals with soy allergies to check the label as some dough products may be free of soy while others are not.
  • Eggs: While not all Pillsbury Dough products contain eggs, some do, meaning those who are allergic to eggs should be cautious and read product labels thoroughly before consumption.

It's important to note that Pillsbury Dough's product range is diverse, and ingredients can vary from one product to another. In addition to the primary allergens listed above, some products may also contain or come into contact with nuts, though this is less common.

Label Reading and Cross-Contact:

For those with severe allergies, reading labels is non-negotiable. The presence of the advisory "may contain" or "processed in a facility that also processes" could signify a risk of cross-contact, which can be just as dangerous as direct ingestion for some individuals.

Because formulations can change, those with allergies or sensitivities should regularly review ingredient lists and allergen information, even for previously consumed products. The Pillsbury website, as well as packaging, will often have detailed allergen information, but when in doubt, contacting the company directly can provide the most up-to-date information.

Gluten-Free Alternatives:

Recognizing the need for gluten-free options, Pillsbury has introduced a line of gluten-free doughs. These products are formulated without wheat-based ingredients and are suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, always check the packaging for cross-contamination warnings if your sensitivity is particularly severe.

In summary, while Pillsbury Dough products offer convenience and a range of tasty options, individuals with specific allergens and sensitivities should approach them with caution. Careful examination of ingredient lists and staying informed about potential recipe changes are essential steps for safe consumption.

Healthy Alternatives to Pillsbury Dough

For individuals looking to reduce their intake of processed foods and refined flours, finding healthier alternatives to Pillsbury dough is a worthwhile endeavor. When considering alternatives, it's important to focus on options that prioritize whole grains, minimal processing, and low added sugar content. Let's explore several alternatives that can fit into a wholesome eating plan:

Homemade Whole Wheat Dough

Making your own dough at home not only allows you to control the ingredients but also to integrate whole grains. Whole wheat flour provides more fiber, nutrients, and a lower glycemic index compared to the refined flours typically found in pre-made doughs. A basic recipe might include whole wheat flour, yeast, a pinch of salt, water, and a touch of honey to activate the yeast.

Almond Flour or Coconut Flour Dough

For those following a low-carbohydrate or gluten-free diet, almond or coconut flours are excellent alternatives. They are lower in carbs and higher in healthy fats and fiber, supporting a more balanced blood sugar level. Almond flour dough is particularly useful for savory dishes, while coconut flour has a sweeter profile suitable for desserts.

Store-Bought Gluten-Free Dough

If homemade is not an option, there are store-bought gluten-free doughs made with a mixture of rice flour, tapioca flour, and sometimes potato starch. These are formulated to mimic the texture of traditional dough while being suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.

Spelt Flour Dough

Spelt flour is gaining popularity as a healthy alternative to wheat flour because it's considered easier to digest and has a higher protein content. Spelt dough can be used for bread, pies, and other baked goods, providing a nutty flavor and a light, tender texture.

Cauliflower Dough

An innovative approach to healthier dough is using cauliflower as a base. This vegetable-based dough is not only low in carbs but also a way to sneak extra vegetables into your diet. Cauliflower dough typically includes egg to hold it together and can be seasoned with herbs and spices for added flavor. It's a fantastic option for pizza crusts and flatbreads.

When opting for these alternatives, be mindful of the changes in texture and baking times that may be required. Also, note that while some alternatives may be healthier, they might still be calorie-dense. Portion control should still be exercised depending on your dietary needs.

Transitioning towards these healthier options can contribute to an improved diet without sacrificing the pleasure of baking and enjoying delicious pastries and bread. Remember, it's not just about removing something from your diet; it's about replacing it with something that nourishes your body more effectively.

Research indicates that dietary patterns incorporating whole grains and reduced intake of processed foods are associated with lower risks of chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes (Whole Grains Council, 2021; American Heart Association, 2020). By choosing healthier dough alternatives, you're one step closer to a diet that supports long-term health and well-being.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, Pillsbury offers a range of products that cater to different dietary needs, including gluten-free options for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. However, it's critical to read labels for any specific allergens and for the presence of cross-contamination if you have severe food allergies.

Pillsbury dough products tend to be high in refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and sodium, which may not align well with a heart-healthy diet when consumed in excess. However, enjoyed in moderation and as part of an overall balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, they can be included occasionally without significant impact on heart health.

High sugar content in products such as Pillsbury cookies and cinnamon rolls can contribute to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and dental problems in children. It's important to limit the intake of such high-sugar products and ensure children have a balanced diet rich in nutrients.

The low fiber content in Pillsbury dough products may contribute to less satiety and a lack of essential benefits fiber offers, such as maintaining a healthy digestive system. To improve dietary fiber intake, consider choosing or making dough with whole grain flours or incorporating high-fiber sides into your meals.

Ask a question about Pillsbury Dough and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • heartburn
  • increased blood sugar levels

Possible long-term side effects

  • heart disease
  • insulin resistance
  • obesity
  • dental issues
  • hypertension
  • metabolic syndrome

Ingredients to be aware of


  • provides energy
  • adds essential nutrients from enriched flour
  • low protein content may aid in certain diet restrictions

Healthier alternatives

  • whole wheat dough
  • almond flour dough
  • coconut flour dough
  • gluten-free dough
  • spelt flour dough
  • cauliflower dough

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

  • 16 oz size
  • 2-Pack value
  • Easy to prepare
  • Celiac-friendly
  • Versatile mix
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-25-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-25-2024

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