In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

December 19, 2017

Health News From The Onion Solves Old-Fashioned Donut Question

By In the Loop

News stories that bring together Mayo Clinic research and pastries are as rare as the perfect chocolate-frosted cake doughnut. Unless, of course, the source of that news is The Onion.

Here at In the Loop world headquarters, we continually scan the headlines for health news and uplifting patient stories. It's a service for you, the reader, that we take seriously. We keep a particularly close eye out for stories related to coffee and snacks, which are close to our hearts and fun to write about. So when we recently saw the headline "Frantic, Last-Second Study Finds Old-Fashioned Donut Better For You Than Bavarian Cream," we knew we had to investigate. We owed it to you.The Onion was the first (even among the satirical news media) to report recently that "Mayo Clinic released new findings … confirming that old-fashioned donuts were a healthier option than Bavarian Cream varieties." This also confirmed long-held suspicions among the In the Loop team.

The Onion described Mayo researchers as conducting and publishing said study "while hovering over a box of freshly baked pastries." The Loop team spent several minutes debating whether we should attempt to replicate the study or simply report on the findings while hovering over a box of freshly baked pastries. We settled on the latter, and needed another box to debate the spelling of our favorite pastry. The Onion prefers donut. The Associated Press Stylebook, the nonsatirical journalist's bible, prefers doughnut. We appreciate all doughnut variations but settled on the latter. Except in direct doughnut-related quotes. We're just that committed to accurate doughnut reporting.

America's finest news source quotes "the study's lead author Dr. Paul Lawton" as stating, "Yes, definitely, we conclude that a classic donut is, in fact, better for you" while "determining that the non-filled one had 5 percent fewer calories and maybe even more nutrients due to the light dusting of cinnamon on top." Of course, the hole in the middle of an old-fashioned surely means fewer calories.

Worried that there could be a hole in those theories and unable to track down Dr. Lawton for additional comment — even after checking Mayo's Directory and the nearest Dunkin' Donuts — we thought we'd try one of our favorite health and wellness experts, Donald Hensrud, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. Before we could pick up the phone, we noticed his comments in a Washington Post article titled, "Eating too much sugar can hurt your health, and for some it's actually addictive." We took a collective deep breath while we read on to see what the good doctor had to say.

"People generally know that sugar isn’t good, but they don’t appreciate how powerfully negative it really is," Dr. Hensrud told the Post. (Uh-oh.) "If you look at all the things in our diet we can change, pulling away from refined or added sugar will do more good than anything else." The article goes on to say not all sugars are equal, and you shouldn't abandon "the sugar that occurs naturally in fresh and frozen fruit."

From there, we started skimming, hoping we didn't, ahem, glaze over too much. We perked up when we read that it's OK to give yourself special dispensation on special days like holidays and there are healthy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. "If you can't totally break up with sugar, consider finding a new partner — in fruit," Dr. Hensrud says. We're guessing he means apple fritters and raspberry jelly-filled doughnuts. Or not. We're afraid to ask.

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Tags: Dr Donald Hensrud, Health and Wellness, Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

Thank you, In the Loop editorial team, for your thorough and conscientious reporting on this important health issue. I wonder if you had additional information about the nutritional content of the doughnut holes? Will more research be warranted?

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