January 20, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Dunkin' Donuts Healthier Options

Dunkin' Donuts recently came out with their new line of "DDSmart" options.

I am wondering what you think of them.

-- Dennise O'Grady

Bay Head, NJ

Dunkin' Donuts defines its DDSmart options as those that are "reduced in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, or sodium by at least 25 percent compared to base product or other appropriate reference product" and/or "contain ingredients that are nutritionally beneficial."

Technically, then, a 600 calorie muffin laden with sugar and saturated fat could be labeled "DDSmart" if it meets criteria #2 (healthful ingredients) by adding a sprinkle of ground flaxseed.

In essence, they are setting up guidelines that enable them to label some not-so-great options as "DDSmart."

This is why corporate, self-imposed nutrition criteria is always slightly suspect.

Consider, for instance, the inclusion of a 450 calorie blueberry muffin. It's a "DDSmart" option simply because it contains a quarter less fat than a traditional blueberry muffin.

What you aren't being told is that there is only a sixty calorie difference between the two muffins.

Dunkin' Donuts is counting on people to think "oh, it's a low fat muffin! It must be low-calorie, too!"

This nebulous advertising clearly demonstrates why calorie labeling is so crucial.

Another odd DDSmart choice? The egg and cheese English muffin, which provides a quarter of a day's worth of saturated fat and a third of the sodium daily limit.

If healthful ingredients is what they are looking for, why not at least bump the fiber content up by using 100% whole wheat English muffins?

The least offensive item -- apart from low-calorie coffees made with skim milk -- is the egg white and vegetable flatbread sandwich.

The multigrain bread contains some whole wheat flour and the entire sandwich clocks in at 290 calories. Still, you're looking at 680 milligrams of sodium.

The smartest thing you can do is not depend on fast food companies for your daily breakfast needs.

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