Is a blueberry muffin healthier than a donut?

Quick Answer

A blueberry muffin is generally healthier than a donut. Blueberry muffins typically have less sugar, fat, and calories compared to donuts. They also contain some beneficial nutrients from whole grains and blueberries, while donuts contain mostly refined flour and sugar. However, muffins are still high in calories and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


One of the biggest factors when comparing the healthiness of foods is calories. Calories provide the energy your body needs, but consuming too many can lead to weight gain over time.

A standard 2 ounce blueberry muffin contains about 210 calories. A glazed donut of the same size packs 240 calories. So the muffin edges out the donut slightly when it comes to calories.

However, these numbers can vary greatly depending on the specific recipes. Large bakery muffins can easily top 500+ calories. Gourmet donuts with creamy fillings and toppings also ramp up the calorie count.

When enjoying baked treats, pay attention to portion sizes and try sticking to a single serving instead of multiple donuts or muffins in one sitting.


Sugar is another area where muffins tend to have a slight advantage over donuts.

A 2 ounce blueberry muffin has around 23 grams of sugar. An old fashioned glazed donut has 29 grams of sugar for the same serving size. The blueberries bump up the natural sugars in the muffin, but it still has less added sugar than donut glaze.

Again, these numbers can vary. Heavily iced or filled donuts have more sugar. Some jumbo muffins are also sugar bombs, with over 30 grams per serving.

No matter what, both muffins and donuts are high sugar foods. Consuming too much added sugar has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more. Enjoying a treat on occasion is ok, but make sure your overall diet is focused on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts and seeds.


Donuts tend to be higher in fat compared to muffins.

A standard glazed donut contains 12 grams of fat, while a blueberry muffin has 7 grams. The majority of this fat is the unhealthy saturated kind that comes from highly processed oils used in frying donuts.

Blueberry muffins have a fat advantage because they are baked rather than fried. But muffins made with oils, eggs, and butter can still end up fairly high in fat. Sticking with smaller portions is key for both options.


Fiber is a beneficial nutrient that promotes fullness, digestion, heart health and more. Fiber also helps slow the absorption of sugar to prevent blood sugar spikes.

Muffins typically provide a bit more fiber than donuts. A 2 ounce muffin has around 2 grams of fiber, while a donut has 1 gram.

The whole wheat flour in muffins accounts for this difference. Donuts are heavily made up of refined white flour, which has had the fiber-rich bran and germ removed.

Still, neither food is a significant source of fiber. Consuming 25-30 grams of fiber per day is optimal, so you???ll want to get fiber from other sources like fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds if muffins and donuts are a regular treat.


Donuts and muffins are both low in protein, another key nutrient. A standard serving of each provides about 2-4 grams of protein.

Protein is important for building and repairing muscle, bone and skin tissue. It also helps you feel full.

You???ll want to look to foods like lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds to get quality protein into your diet throughout the day. Donuts and muffins don???t significantly contribute toward your daily protein needs.


When it comes to vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, blueberry muffins have a slight edge thanks to the blueberries.

Blueberries are high in compounds called anthocyanins that have strong antioxidant properties offering health benefits. They also contain small amounts of vitamins C, K and manganese.

Donuts are lacking in nutrients beyond basic carbs, fat, protein and sugar. They are made of refined flour, sugar and oil without much nutritional value.

So while a blueberry muffin still doesn???t qualify as a health food, it packs a bit more nutritional punch with the addition of fruit. But the overall micronutrient content of both baked goods is minimal compared to real whole foods.


Analyzing the specific ingredients used can also give insight into the relative health factors of donuts versus muffins.

Here is a typical ingredient list for a blueberry muffin:

– Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
– Sugar
– Blueberries
– Vegetable oil
– Baking powder
– Salt
– Milk
– Eggs

And here are the basic ingredients for a classic glazed donut:

– Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
– Sugar
– Vegetable shortening
– Water
– Eggs
– Leavening agents
– Salt
– Glaze (sugar, milk, butter)

When comparing the two, the muffin has the advantage of using actual blueberries rather than just sugar for flavor. The muffin also contains milk for a bit more protein and nutrients.

However, the main ingredients of refined flour, sugar and oil are largely the same. There are no miraculous healthy ingredients in either recipe. Both are better enjoyed occasionally than daily.

Potential modifications

There are ways to modify both donuts and muffins to make them somewhat healthier:

– Use whole wheat or almond flour instead of refined white flour
– Replace some or all of the sugar with pureed fruit, honey, maple syrup or stevia
– Use healthy oils like avocado or coconut oil instead of vegetable shortening
– Add nuts, oats or chia seeds for extra nutrition
– Top muffins or donuts with fresh fruit instead of heavy glazes or sugars
– Avoid artificial colors, flavors and preservatives

Small tweaks like using Greek yogurt or applesauce instead of oil can also reduce fat and calories while adding moisture.

There are also ways to lighten donuts by baking instead of frying. This eliminates the need for greasy oils and the large amounts of fat they add.

Don???t expect modified baked goods to taste exactly the same as full-sugar originals. But they can still satisfy a sweet craving in a less nutrition-defying way.

Portion control

No matter what ingredients they contain, the health factor of donuts and muffins comes down largely to portion control.

One standard size muffin or donut with coffee or tea can hit the spot for many people. But problems arise when giant Costco muffins or half dozen donut boxes become the norm.

Baked goods are calorie dense, meaning they pack a lot of calories into small servings. It???s easy to overdo it, especially on grab-and-go breakfasts or office treats. Being mindful of portions is key.

Strategies like sharing or cutting large muffins in half can help. Freezing extra muffins or donuts to enjoy later in the week rather than all at once is another good tactic.


How often you indulge in muffins and donuts also has an impact.

Making them an everyday breakfast choice likely overloads you with empty calories, sugar and fat that could be better spent on more balanced options.

Saving muffins and donuts for an occasional weekend breakfast or dessert helps keep cravings in check while still allowing room for healthier items during the week.

Physical activity

Exercise can allow room for some extra muffin or donut enjoyment too.

If you are active with sports, strength training and cardio, you likely burn extra calories that give you more flexibility in your diet.

That said, exercise doesn???t give you free reign to go wild on baked goods daily. Activity is most effective when paired with an overall healthy approach to food intake. But it does provide some wiggle room for the occasional treat.


Looking at all the nutritional factors we???ve covered, blueberry muffins emerge as the slightly healthier choice over donuts:

Factor Blueberry Muffin Glazed Donut
Calories Slightly less Slightly more
Sugar Less added sugar More added sugar
Fat Less fat from baking More fat from frying
Fiber A bit more from whole grains Less due to refined flour
Protein About the same About the same
Micronutrients Some from blueberries Minimal

However, the differences are modest. Both foods should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, not daily go-to breakfast choices.

Being mindful of portion sizes, ingredients, and how often you indulge are all key for balancing enjoyment of sweet baked treats with overall nutrition goals. With some small tweaks, donuts and muffins can occasionally be part of a balanced lifestyle. But foods like fresh fruit, whole grains, lean protein and veggies should make up the foundation of your daily meals and snacks.

Leave a Comment