from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), January, 2012

Fats in full-fat muffins are generally plant-based oils, oils rich in heart-healthy, unsaturated fats.  The low-fat muffin, disguised as a sweet way to lose weight, is probably the gateway to gaining weight.

Once the fat’s cut back in the muffin, what we’re eating is white flour and sugar-refined carbs, which our bodies break down almost as fast as we can swallow them. 

And then our blood sugar quickly dips and drops, telling us that we’re hungry. And that one low-fat muffin really wasn’t that much to eat.  And that it’s OK to eat another one, especially since they’re low-fat. 


No low-fat processed foods, including baked goods, are as flavorful as foods prepared with full-fats.  So processed food manufacturers (don’t confuse them with cooks or chefs) increase the salt content, a fitting complement for the refined carbs.

Salt, white flour, sugar and other heavily refined carbohydrates seem to increase the risk of heart disease at least as much as diets high in harmful saturated fat. 

Chefs and registered dietitians at The Culinary Institute of America, working with nutrition experts at HSPH, are creating new muffin recipes using healthy fats and whole grains—and less sugar and salt. 

You can create more healthful versions of your favorite baked goods in your own kitchen.  Start replacing half the butter with a healthful oil, such as canola.  Replace half the refined flour with whole grain flour.  Pare back the amount of sugar and salt you use.

My Take on low-fat baked goods: 


I’m not a fan of breakfast cereals, other than oatmeal, so I bake Oat Bran Whole Wheat Muffins for an occasional breakfast treat.  I use butter in baking because I have no cholesterol or heart problems.  And because I like the flavor.

Instead of sugar, I include dried apricots and cranberries I’ve gently simmered in Tawny Port.  Instead of salt, I add salted sunflower seeds—very healthful fat. 

All in all, they’re sturdy, stick-to-the-ribs (instead of the midriff) muffins.



  1. Guilty – thought that they well better for me until I did a little research! Good piece! Jim

    • Jim–How nice to hear from you. I’m happy you found the article helpful. Other than low-fat organic yogurt, I avoid low-fat foods. They’re all processed.


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