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Comparing the Nutritional Value of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts

Updated on August 23, 2012

Which place is healthier?

Despite the best intentions to live out a healthy lifestyle, most of us find ourselves in a fast food breakfast place like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts to grab a coffee and a muffin. Maybe you don't realize it, but you are making all sorts of quick decisions in the three minutes you are standing in line. Perhaps you are thinking,

"I should go for the low-fat cream cheese."

"Maybe a coffee with milk instead of cream."

"Starbucks has healthier food. I should have gone there."

"I'll get a scone instead of a donut."

We make these quick decisions based on our:

  • craving at the moment
  • beliefs about food
  • assumptions on the nutritional values of certain foods
  • financial situation
  • vulnerability to advertising

I'm not the kind of person who thinks every large chain restaurant should be boycotted. Real life gets in the way of our most highly esteemed ideals, and sometimes- we just want an ooey gooey donut. So how well do you know what you are eating? Are your choices informed? Let's take a quiz and find out.

How informed are you?

view quiz statistics

What influences you?

If you scored an 80% or above, your general assumptions about the differences between Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts weren't that bad. Nice work! However, if you got more than three wrong, you may have to look at some of the holes in your logic.

As much as we'd not like to admit, we are swayed by advertising. Starbucks is marketed as an upscale, Earth friendly, health conscious alternative to Dunkin' Donuts. D&D on the other hand markets as the nation's morning 'fuel'. We are bombarded with messages that in time, start to sway our decision making process.

Sometimes you just want what you want! It isn't about anything else other than satisfying that craving for something specific. People who are health conscious might try to satisfy a need for a donut with a bran muffin, only to find they still want the donut later! A better option would be to either eat a small donut or make one yourself!

Many of us just go to the place that is closest or cheapest. In this economy, it is understandable why people make food decisions based on money.

Good food versus bad food
The diet industry has turned food into a moral issue. Where once people made decisions on items based on taste, now we assimilate "donuts" as bad, "bran" muffins as better, protein boxes as best. Who taught you that? The media and the diet industry. Unfortunately, a lot of these assumptions are wrong. Let's see how you score on this next quiz.

Which has more calories?

view quiz statistics

How did you do? If you scored well, congratulations! If you did not, well- you can blame the media for this misunderstanding. We take so much of what they say and assimiliate into our thinking, without first checking the facts.

Below are the actual caloric contents of comparable items from Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. You will see that some of the numbers are surprising. However, what is even more astounding is that in many cases, the foods you think are "bad" are actually lower in calories than the foods you think are "good" for you!

Calorie comparison

Food or Drink
Dunkin Donuts
Honey Bran 440
Apple Bran 350
Plain 310
Plain 280
Baked Goods
Strawberry Cheese Danish 320
Cranberry Orange Scone 490
D & D
Protein Breakfast
Bacon Egg Cheese 370
Protein Bistro Box 380
D & D
Hot chocolate
Caramel 230
Peppermint 360
D & D
Orange Coolatta 210
Orange Mango Smoothie 270
D & D
Coffee Drink
Mocha Almond Latte 220
Cafe Vanilla Frappucino 310
D & D
Donut or Pastry
Glazed Donut 260
Cinnamon Swirl Cake 340
D & D
Lunch to Go
Tuna Salad on Croissant 650
Cheese and Fruit Box 480
All sizes for drinks are small.

What kind of nutrition is important?

The above chart compared calories. For some people, they want less fat or sugar. Usually the items that are lower in fat tend to be higher in sugar and carbohydrates (and vise versa). Some of these foods offer no other nutritional value like fiber and protein. You need to assess what you are most concerned with. If your goal is to eat less than you burn each day, calories is your bottom line.

As you can see, Starbucks is not necessarily healthier than D&D, despite strategic marketing. Of all the comparisons done, Starbucks only came out on top three times! You might think that a "smoothie" is better than a "coolatta" , but the facts state otherwise.

So is a bagel better than a donut?

All of our assumptions need to get re-evaluated. When you are on the go, you might be tempted to go for a bagel rather than a donut, simply because you feel like a bagel is healthier. It does have more protein than a donut, but in many cases, the donut is less calories, especially because most people have cream cheese on their bagel.

Watch the names of the foods too. A honey bran raisin muffin might sound healthier than cinnamon swirl coffee cake, but the cake has 100 less calories than the muffin. Are you feeling duped yet? You should. The dieting industry and advertisers work overtime to influence us to buy what they want, not what is necessarily good.

What should you do?

Take a good hard look at the nutritional value of each food you tend to buy on a regular basis. After months of eating bran muffins (when you'd rather have coffee cake), you might realize your original craving wasn't as bad!

Watch your portions. A baked good, muffin, or pastry from either place is bound to be bigger than it would be if you made at home. Cut it in half, eat the half portion, and wait to see if you are full before continuing.

Another option is to start baking at home. If we compared the nutritional value of these items made from scratch, the results would be astoundingly different! Consider making muffins at home and freezing them. They will taste better too.

As the saying goes, all things in moderation!


About the author

Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer and mom to three. She embarked on a research project one morning after feeling criticized by other mothers for giving her kids donuts. What she discovered, blew her away, and she wanted to share her information with the world. It turns out the plain donut is one of the lowest calorie items between either Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts inventory!

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    • dumdummy profile image

      Goh Tong Keat 

      2 years ago from Malaysia

      I love donuts!

    • beingwell profile image


      7 years ago from Bangkok

      Oh my! Honestly, I TRY (hehehe) not to have sweets in my drink. I also TRY (again with the hihihi...) to avoid pastries and sugar-coated desserts. Still, when I do fall into the sweet pit I make up with running and other cardio exercises. It helps me keep my weight, shape and size. Whew! Voted this one up and shared it with my hub friends!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Very interesting hub. I always think a muffin sounds better for you than a donut....especially if you stick the word "bran" in the name. Next time I'm going to go for the donut! Neither is going to be healthy, so I might as well enjoy it. Thanks for the informative and well-written article.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Now I am just going to get coffee at either place. Almost everything you eat out is not totally healthy...after all it has to taste good to sell..often with salt, sugar and fat. So we take a holiday once in a while. great hub.voted up and shared.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for writing this. I love how you added the chart. I'm bookmarking this one, although I never eat muffins, bagels, donuts etc., not with diabetes! Voted up and useful. Kelley

    • Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

      Deepak Chaturvedi 

      7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Interesting and useful hub.has useful tips.thank to share.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      7 years ago from UK

      We have lots of Starbucks, but not so many DDs here in the UK. Not that it bothers me because I can't stand doughnuts! (Even the thought of eating a glazed doughnut makes me feel sick.)

      I agree with your suggestions to eat half or bake at home. I bake tons of muffins, use wholegrain flour and very rarely add sugar to them - I use pureed dates instead.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      7 years ago

      Ah... I failed the first quiz and did OK on the second... :( This is a very fun and informative hub ^_^ I enjoyed it very much and voted a bunch with a side of share ^_^

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      Fun comparisons and well-written hub! I enjoyed the read and I was surprised at some of the caloric differences. Thank you for sharing this!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, I refuse to go to Starbucks so my choices in this hub and limited. :) Nice job of comparisons.

    • mmsu profile image


      7 years ago from Pakistan

      What a superb hub.Just reading the title made my mouth fill with water.Two of my favorite places.Dunkin Donut's Alaska Supreme is just awesome!!!voted up and shared!

    • livewithrichard profile image

      Richard Bivins 

      7 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Haha, this was an interesting comparison but I have to say that when I frequent either of these establishments, health is not on my mind at all. As a matter of fact, I just went to DD this morning for an egg and bacon toaster, although I also chose a bottle of Diet Coke... does that count as a healthy choice? I probably should be a bit more conscious of the nutritional value of their food items but I'm afraid I'm a victim of the opportune marketing which brought me into DD this morning... I was hungry, and they were very close by when I seen the advertisement as I passed the bus stop. :)

    • Dr Pooja profile image

      Dr Pooja 

      7 years ago

      Hey great job ! I do have coffee at SB and am tempted to take a cake or muffin with it but I make it a point to split it and share with others rather than have it alone .

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I enjoyed this comparison...while I do not eat at either establishment, I will take the DD coffee over SB and have tried them both...cheers

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I know what I should do - go get a Dunkin Donut! lol I actually love them both but we lost our D.D. and I do not have one very close anymore so I really miss it. There's 3 Starbucks within a two mile radius of my house!

      I scored an 80% on the first quiz and a 20% on the second...very strange! I really did buy into the media hype!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? What nutritional value?

      If one is interested in nutrition, it's preferable to avoid all traditional processed food, make your own breakfast at home from safe, organic foods (including organic oatmeal, which is super healthy). You will know what you're eating, and can ensure that it's not full of high fructose corn syrup, foods laced with pesticide residue or GMOs.

      Of course, that's easy for me to say since I'm retired and no longer have to dash out the door to take kids to school or go to the office. Still, it's healthier to set the alarm earlier enough to make time for preparing breakfast (especially if you do some of it the night before).

      Yes, I know I sound like the Food Police (which is what my friends and family call me)! Your research is actually quite good, and I applaud your suggestion for people to start baking at home. That's another way to know the nutritional levels (and safety) of what you're eating or feeding your family. If people actually gave some thought to the toxicity of what they're buying and eating, they would be horrified.


    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 years ago

      Great comparisons. Sometimes the things you think would be ok aren't. Just shows you have to pay close attention to the food choices one makes.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      What a concept! comparing Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts on their nutritional value. I'm agree. whatever you say. :))

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      7 years ago from New York

      Amazing statistics Julie. Don't bother myself with either one, but this hub was interesting! Thanks! The chart is pretty awesome!

    • manicpanicplease profile image

      L Brander 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Interesting Hub, definitely caught my attention! Looks like you did a lot of research for this article, and it really benefited from it. Voted up and shared.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Julie, this was so very interesting and did rather well on the quizzes I think partly due to my best friend being a registered dietitian and I could hear her pretty much lecturing me on what is good for you versus what isn't. That said I just can't help but love Dunkin Donuts and like you said moderation is the key. I don't got there everyday, but once in a while I can't help but treat myself. Thank you though for this informative and quite enlightening read. Have totally voted up, shared and tweeted as usual!!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      7 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is very interesting. I don't eat breakfast out so nonetheless I failed the quiz. But I agree marketing strategies employed by companies easily fool people into thinking some foods are healthier than they really are. Thanks for sharing this information!

    • Julie DeNeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      7 years ago from Clinton CT

      The protein bistro box is a box filled with a hard boiled egg, cheese, fruit, and some pita bread!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      7 years ago from USA

      Awesome research! Facts are facts, and you did an amazing job of reporting the facts straight and unbiased. But, I do have one question... What is a protein box? I mean, what's in a protein box? I'm not sure if it is a protein bar or a box with protein in it. I'm not familiar with the term, so I thought I'd ask. It's question #2 on the first quiz. Anyway, I really enjoyed your hub. Fun quizes, too!


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