Is All Cake Bad for my Health?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Cake is an important part of many special occasions. It’s served at birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, housewarming parties, and retirement celebrations. However, not all cakes are created equally in terms of their calorie content and nutritional value.

Bananas, which can be used to make a healthy cake.
Bananas, which can be used to make a healthy cake.

If you’re committed to healthy eating, you don’t need to eliminate cake from your diet. Instead, try to focus on choosing those that will help you increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Cakes made with dried fruit or apples, bananas, carrots, or pumpkin can be delicious treats for someone following a well-balanced diet. If these choices don’t sound appetizing enough, consider angel food or sponge cake. However, chocolate fudge cakes and other ultra-rich desserts should be saved for special occasions only.

Cinnamon can be used to add flavor to a cake without increasing the calories.
Cinnamon can be used to add flavor to a cake without increasing the calories.

If you want to adapt your favorite recipe to make it more nutritious, try replacing some of the sugar or fat in the cake with a fruit puree made from apples or apricots stewed in a small amount of water. Depending upon your personal preferences and the type of cake you’re trying to bake, fruit juice, flavored yogurt, or nonfat sour cream can also be used to cut calories without sacrificing taste. Many cooks choose to use artificial sweetener in place of granulated white sugar, but some medical experts are concerned that the health effects of these products have not been sufficiently tested.

Depending on the other ingredients, apple cake can be relatively healthy.
Depending on the other ingredients, apple cake can be relatively healthy.

The type of ingredients in a cake will also play an important role in determining whether or not the it is bad for your health. A cake made using organic sugar, whole wheat flour, free-range eggs, and a reduced fat olive oil-based spread can be both delicious and nutritious. These ingredients may cost slightly more than what you’re used to paying, but they are better for you than baking a cake that contains refined white flour, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and other unhealthy food additives. Make frequent use of natural vanilla, cocoa, and cinnamon to boost your cake’s flavor without adding unnecessary calories. For a finishing touch that won’t ruin your diet, top it with powdered sugar or try a tangy cream cheese icing,

The ingredients used in a cake determine if it is nutritious.
The ingredients used in a cake determine if it is nutritious.

Regardless of the type you choose, portion control is an essential part of healthy eating. To avoid the risk of overindulgence, consider cutting your cake into several small squares or buying a set of mini-cake pans. Eat slowly, take small bites, and savor the results of your hard work.

Whole wheat options are typically more nutritious.
Whole wheat options are typically more nutritious.
Cake sugar and fat can be replaced with pureed apricots.
Cake sugar and fat can be replaced with pureed apricots.
Eating rich desserts should be saved for special occasions.
Eating rich desserts should be saved for special occasions.
Although cake isn't healthy, it is typically okay to indulge at special occasions like weddings.
Although cake isn't healthy, it is typically okay to indulge at special occasions like weddings.
Many cakes contain large quantities of sugar which make them rather unhealthy.
Many cakes contain large quantities of sugar which make them rather unhealthy.
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the wiseGEEK team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments

anon927377

As I see it, the only healthy cake has no sugar and no wheat. It is irrelevant whether it is wholegrain, raw, organic or whatever. Both sugar and wheat contribute to very high glucose levels, are found in abundance in all processed foods, from cereals to pasta, and more of it is even bad for the body.

No kinds of oils or butter in the oven, butter and oils are very nutritious on their own, but when heated, oils or butter are totally another story.

Good cake for the body: fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and unprocessed grains/flour, like quinoa, buckwheat, millet, spelt, farro, etc. No rubbish.

amypollick

And there's always that thing called "moderation." I'm a T2 diabetic, my numbers are excellent and my doctor is thrilled with my progress. But I eat a piece of cake now and again! You have to change your mindset. One piece of cake, not three. One *small* piece of cake, not a giant wedge.

When we have cake at an office party, I cut a regular sized square in half and scrape the frosting off. It's usually awful anyway, and just about pure sugar. I eat that half of the square, which satisfies that sweet craving, but doesn't kill my blood sugar.

I only make cakes to take somewhere. I love to bake and being a T2 and a fond baker are generally not compatible, but I volunteer to do the baking, so I'm satisfied, and I don't have a lot of sweet stuff hanging around the house, calling me. (Yes, it calls me. I can hear it. Heh.)

And there are always flourless cakes that can be used with artificial sweeteners, or less sugar, to make them lower in carbs and sugar, but that still satisfy the sweet tooth. I have a fabulous low-carb cheesecake recipe that is positively decadent, but not nearly as detrimental to one's health as you might think when you taste it.

But mostly, it's about taking one small piece and enjoying that, rather than eating a huge piece and regretting it. A piece of cake every few months isn't going to ruin any but the strictest diets.

HUNGRYchick

Not all desserts are bad. There are catering services/bakeries that makes all these awesome comfort foods but in a healthy way. Like they do gluten free, low carb, vegan, sugar free, fat free, etc.

cupcake15

Sunny27- I have never thought of that. I am going to have to try it. What I usually do is cut a small piece of regular cake and offer some fruit and nuts with it.

The protein in the nuts slows down the absorption of the cake and makes me full so I don’t eat as much cake.

Sunny27

Great article- I agree that you don’t have to give up cake in order to live a healthy lifestyle. The writer makes excellent suggestions but you can also change some of the ingredients in order to create a healthier cake.

For example, if you buy a chocolate cake mix, you can combine the contents of the package with a can of pumpkin. You blend the mixture and follow the directions until the cake is baked.

By avoiding the oil and eggs, you can still bake a tasty cake that is moist and high in vitamin A.

My children hate vegetables, but love this cake. I just don't tell them how I made it.

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