Are Muffins Healthy for Breakfast?
The beloved muffin, an easy-to-eat sweet breakfast that can be grabbed on-the-go. But are these baked goods actually a good choice?
Most store-bought muffins are like glorified cupcakes—they're full of sugar and simple carbs. "They can be packed with added sugar and low in fiber, sending your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster before you even get to work," says Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CPT.
Yet, muffins can be a healthy breakfast option if you make them at home yourself. "Look for recipes with protein-rich ingredients, like whole eggs or egg whites, Greek yogurt, oats, almond flour, or protein powder, and fiber-rich ingredients, like oats, flaxseed, coconut flour, and whole-wheat flour," says Martin.
You can also lower sugar content by replacing some or all the added sugar with natural applesauce or mashed banana, which will also add fiber. Plus, you can even enhance flavor without sugar by adding spices, like cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, and extracts, such as vanilla extract.
"Although I don't often have muffins for breakfast, if I do, they're usually homemade using the guidelines I just mentioned. Occasionally I indulge in a store-bought muffin because I believe any food can fit into a healthy and balanced lifestyle," Martin says.
Here Are Five Great Muffin Options for Breakfast That Won't Jeopardize Your Diet:
Vegan and Gluten-Free Orange Muffins
These muffins are gluten-free and vegan, plus sweetened with orange juice and a little bit of coconut sugar. Plus each muffin is under 200 calories, leaving you with enough breakfast calories to pair it with some eggs or sausage for protein.
Get the Recipe: Vegan and Gluten-Free Orange Muffins
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
By adding in zucchini, you're getting some greens and bumping up the fiber, antioxidants, and nutrition of your muffins. For toppings, try a few mini chocolate chips or chopped nuts—the nuts will be healthier and offer good fats to boost satiety while providing extra protein.
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins
These muffins are lower in fat and offer natural sweetness, along with fiber and antioxidants, to boost brainpower, from the high blueberry content. They are also lower in sugar thanks to the unsweetened applesauce.
Get the Recipe: Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins
Healthy Sweet Potato Muffins
Sweet potato has fiber and antioxidants, like beta-carotene, to fill your belly and benefit your skin and heart health. Plus you can mix in toasted nuts or flaxseed for more fats and protein!
Get the Recipe: Healthy Sweet Potato Muffins
Healthy Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Pumpkin is right in season and it's rich in fiber and beta-carotene, too, so it's a great way to have a sweet but not too sweet muffin that'll actually provide good nutrition. This recipe is whole grain, easy to prepare, low-fat, and super delicious!
Get the Recipe: Healthy Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins