Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: In search of the wholly healthy muffin

Q. I see in-store promotions for low-fat muffins almost everywhere. Is there such a thing as a heart-healthy muffin?

A. Yes, there is, but you're not likely to find it in the typical, store-bought low-fat muffin.

First of all, low-fat muffins get their name by skimping on fats, often the heart-healthy kind contained in liquid plant oils like canola and olive oil. When good fats are reduced, white flour and sugar usually take their place. Your body breaks down those refined carbohydrates quickly, leading to a spike in blood sugar and insulin production, followed by a rapid rebound of hunger. Diets high in refined carbohydrates seem to raise the risk of heart disease at least as much as diets high in saturated fat.

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