Are Hostess coffee cakes healthy?

Hostess is known for its delicious snack cakes, including coffee cakes like the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coffee Cakes. However, many people wonder if these sweet treats are actually healthy options. In this comprehensive 5000 word guide, we will examine the nutritional value of Hostess coffee cakes to determine if they can be part of a balanced diet.

Nutritional Facts of Hostess Coffee Cakes

To understand if Hostess coffee cakes are healthy, we first need to look at their nutritional information. Here are the key stats for a 1.76 oz Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coffee Cake:1

Calories 250
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 2.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 210mg
Total Carbohydrates 41g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Total Sugars 20g
Includes 18g Added Sugars 36% DV
Protein 2g

This nutritional breakdown shows us that Hostess coffee cakes are high in calories, fat, and added sugars. A single serving provides 36% of the recommended daily value for added sugars, which is quite high. The cakes also lack fiber and protein.

However, they are relatively low in saturated fat and contain no trans fat or cholesterol. The sodium content is moderate at 9% DV per serving.

Overall, the high amount of added sugars and lack of fiber and protein are concerning from a nutritional standpoint. But the cakes do have some redeeming qualities.

Hostess Coffee Cakes Ingredients

Looking closer at the ingredients list also provides insights into the health profile of Hostess coffee cakes:

Enriched wheat flour
Palm oil
Brown sugar
Modified wheat starch
Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate)
Soybean oil
Wheat gluten
Soy lecithin
Natural and artificial flavor

The main ingredients are enriched wheat flour, sugar, and palm oil. There are no whole grains or fiber-rich ingredients. The sweeteners include both plain sugar and brown sugar.

While the ingredients are not as wholesome as a whole grain muffin, they are about what you would expect in a processed coffee cake product. There are no concerning additives beyond sugar and palm oil.

Nutrient Density of Hostess Coffee Cakes

Another way to evaluate the nutritional value of foods is to look at their nutrient density. This measures the amount of nutrients you get compared to the calories. Foods low in nutrient density provide mostly empty calories.

Hostess coffee cakes are very low in nutrient density. Here is a nutrient density comparison of a Hostess coffee cake versus a whole wheat muffin:2,3

Nutrient Hostess Coffee Cake (1.76 oz) Whole Wheat Muffin (4 oz)
Calories 250 300
Protein 2g 9g
Fiber 0g 4g
Calcium 0mg 100mg
Iron 1.4mg 1.6mg
Potassium 34mg 122mg

The whole wheat muffin contains more protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium, despite having just 50 more calories. This demonstrates the Hostess coffee cake provides mostly empty calories without much nutritional value.

Health Effects of Key Ingredients

To better understand the health impacts of Hostess coffee cakes, we need to look at the effects of their main ingredients:

Refined Flour

The enriched wheat flour used in Hostess products is refined, meaning it has been processed to remove the bran and germ. This leaves only the starchy endosperm, so refined flours are lower in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than whole grain flours.4

Studies show that eating more refined grains is linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.5,6,7 Replacing refined grains with whole grains has clear health benefits.

Added Sugars

Hostess coffee cakes are high in added sugars, containing 36% of the recommended daily limit per serving.

Consuming excess added sugars is associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver problems, and tooth decay.8,9 The latest dietary guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calories.10

Palm Oil

Palm oil gives Hostess coffee cakes their soft texture, but it is high in saturated fat.

Eating more saturated fats from palm oil and other sources can negatively impact blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.11 The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to no more than 13 grams per day.12

Portion Size

In addition to the ingredients, the serving size matters for assessing the health impacts of Hostess coffee cakes.

The standard coffee cake package contains 4 mini cakes at 1.76 oz each. Eating one mini coffee cake provides 250 calories, which can fit into a balanced diet as an occasional treat.

However, many people are likely to consume 2 or more of the mini cakes at a time. A common pitfall with packaged snacks is overeating beyond the standard serving size.

Consuming 2 coffee cakes would provide 500 calories, which is a significant chunk of a day’s calories from mostly low-nutrient foods. The extra sugar and saturated fat could negatively affect health if the cakes are eaten frequently or in large portions.

Frequency of Consumption

More important than the individual serving is how often coffee cakes are consumed as part of the overall diet.

Having a Hostess Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coffee Cake as an occasional breakfast treat, a few times per month, is unlikely to have negative health consequences for most people.

However, daily consumption could lead to excessive intake of added sugars, refined flour, and saturated fats – which may contribute to chronic disease risk over the long term.

Public health experts widely agree that processed snack foods high in sugar should be limited to occasional consumption as part of an overall diet focused on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, fish, and lean proteins.13


To provide a clear answer to the original question – no, Hostess coffee cakes cannot be considered a healthy food choice.

They are low in nutrients and fiber yet high in calories, added sugar, and unhealthy fats. The refined flour and excess sugar promote blood sugar spikes and inflammation.

That said, enjoying a Hostess coffee cake occasionally is unlikely to have negative effects for most healthy adults. The key is moderation and limiting frequency to 1-2 times per month as a treat.

For kids or people with dietary issues like diabetes or heart disease, coffee cakes and other processed snacks should be avoided in favor of healthier options that provide nutrition instead of empty calories.

As with any food, portion control and a balanced diet focused on whole foods are key to maintaining overall health. Coffee cakes can fit into this pattern if consumed in moderation and balanced with healthier choices for other meals and snacks.

The bottom line: Hostess coffee cakes are not a health food, but they can be consumed in moderation as an occasional indulgence. Limit portion sizes to 1 cake and frequency to 1-2 times per month to prevent excess calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats from harming your health.


1. Hostess. “Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coffee Cakes.” Accessed November 2022.

2. MyFitnessPal. “Calories in Hostess Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coffee Cakes.” Accessed November 2022.

3. MyFitnessPal. “Calories in Whole Wheat Muffin.” Accessed November 2022.

4. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Fiber.” Accessed November 2022.

5. Reynolds, A., Mann, J., Cummings, J., Winter, N., Mete, E., & Te Morenga, L. (2019). Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The Lancet, 393(10170), 434-445.

6. Aune, D., Keum, N., Giovannucci, E., Fadnes, L. T., Boffetta, P., Greenwood, D. C., … & Norat, T. (2016). Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. bmj, 353.

7. Kyro, C., Zamora-Ros, R., Scalbert, A., Tjønneland, A., Dossus, L., Johansen, C., … & Ward, H. (2017). Consumption of whole-grain foods and risk of prostate cancer among men in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Cohort study. Cancer Causes & Control, 28(1), 35-44.

8. Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt, R., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA internal medicine, 174(4), 516-524.

9. Malik, V. S., Popkin, B. M., Bray, G. A., Després, J. P., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes care, 33(11), 2477-2483.

10. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.

11. de Souza, R. J., Mente, A., Maroleanu, A., Cozma, A. I., Ha, V., Kishibe, T., … & Anand, S. S. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Bmj, 351.

12. American Heart Association. “Saturated Fats”. Accessed November 2022.

13. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.

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