Morning person or not, the earliest part of the day can be hectic. For many people, breakfast is the most neglected meal of the day. Even if you’re not a breakfast person, you should consider making a nutritious meal happen in the morning.
While the benefits of eating breakfast are well-known – it can prevent weight gain, boost short-term memory, lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and even make us happier – most of those health rewards depend on choosing the right foods.
The 12 Best Foods To Eat For Breakfast
When you are ready to chow down, here are some healthy breakfast options to make sure you start the day off right.
Full of vitamins A, D, and B12, eggs are an inexpensive and nutrient-dense ingredient.
Two large eggs contain more than 50% of the choline you need each day, which affects memory, mood, and muscle control. Just one egg has about 8 grams of protein as well. Nearly everything in our bodies requires protein, such as our skin, blood, and bones. Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, keeping you fuller, longer.
Make breakfast a combo of filling fiber and lean protein, like scrambled eggs on whole-grain toast with sliced tomato or a spinach-broccoli-mushroom omelet. Or grab a couple of hard-boiled eggs if you’re on the go.
Oatmeal is the best breakfast choice for cereal lovers. Breakfast happens to be the easiest time to get in heart-healthy fiber from whole grain cereal and oats which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Fiber keeps us full and gives us energy.
Oats are also rich in antioxidants, which protect their fatty acids from becoming rancid. These antioxidants may also benefit heart health and decrease blood pressure
To boost the protein content of an oatmeal breakfast, prepare it with milk instead of water or serve it with a side of eggs or a piece of cheese. It is also recommended to use any milk with 1 percent fat or less.
Another warning: If you’re watching your weight, you want to stay away from whole-grain cereals with added sugar because those pack a lot of extra calories.
3. COTTAGE CHEESE
Cottage cheese is a fantastic breakfast food. It’s high in protein, which increases metabolism, produces feelings of fullness and decreases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
In fact, cottage cheese has been shown to be as filling and satisfying as eggs. Full-fat cottage cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may promote weight loss.
One cup of cottage cheese provides an impressive 25 grams of protein. Add berries and ground flaxseeds or chopped nuts to make it even more nutritious.
4. GREEK YOGURT
Greek yogurt is creamy, delicious and nourishing. It’s made by straining whey and other liquid from milk curds, which produces a creamier yogurt that is more concentrated in protein.
A 6-ounce serving of yogurt contains as much protein as a serving as meat. Greek yogurt contains even more protein – sometimes double the amount of regular yogurt. If you have diabetes or are watching your calories, plain, nonfat, or low-fat yogurt is a healthier choice than fruit-flavored yogurts, which can have a lot of added sugar.
Protein has been shown to reduce feelings of hunger and has a higher thermic effect than fat or carbs. The term thermic effect refers to the increase in metabolic rate that occurs after eating.
Yogurt and other dairy products can also help with weight control because they increase levels of hormones that promote fullness. What’s more, full-fat yogurt contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which may increase fat loss and decrease breast cancer risk.
Certain types of Greek yogurt are good sources of probiotics like Bifidobacteria, which help your gut stay healthy.
To make sure your yogurt contains probiotics, look for the phrase contains live and active cultures on the label. Try topping Greek yogurt with berries or chopped fruit to increase your meal’s vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
5. WHOLE GRAIN BREAD
Whole grain bread is made up of wheat kernels that are still whole, with the bran, germ and endosperm intact. It also contains other whole grains like oats, brown rice or barley. This type of bread is more nutritious and takes longer for our bodies to digest.
Swapping white bread for wholegrain toast means you can get more fibre. Eating at least 30g of dietary fibre a day may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
6. AVOCADO TOAST
One of the best healthy breakfast foods? Avocado toast! There’s a reason this dish has become a favorite in recent years – it’s fast, filling, and most importantly, delicious.
These green goddesses have it all-omega-3s, protein, fiber (half an avocado contains a quarter of your recommended value for the day), vitamin E, and more potassium than you’ll find in a banana.
Those nutrients come with a big payoff: Researches found that eating one to one and a half avocados per day (in place of other foods high in saturated fat) significantly reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Choose whole grain toast for the extra fiber and then pair it with a protein source for increased satisfaction. Add two eggs, cooked however you like them. Smoked salmon is another great option. For a plant-based version, try hemp seeds and a squeeze of lime or black beans and salsa. The possibilities are endless.
Antioxidant-rich, extremely nutrient-dense and low in calories, leafy greens have a space at any breakfast table – blend into a green smoothie, sauté for egg on toast, mix into sweet potato hash, or bake into an egg white frittata.
Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are an excellent source of several nutrients including iron, which can help maintain energy levels. Pair your greens with sources of vitamin C to increase iron absorption.
Studies show eating a diet rich in leafy greens has untold health benefits, including protecting your eye health, enhancing sport performance, improving immune defences, slowing cognitive decline, and warding off heart disease and diabetes.
Nuts are tasty, satisfying and nutritious. They’re a great addition to your breakfast, as they’re filling and help prevent weight gain.
Even though nuts are high in calories, studies suggest you don’t absorb all the fat in them. In fact, your body only absorbs about 129 calories of a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds. This may be true for some other nuts as well, though at this time only almonds have been tested.
Furthermore, nuts have been shown to improve heart disease risk factors, reduce insulin resistance and decrease inflammation. All types of nuts are also high in magnesium, potassium and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
What’s more, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium – just two Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the recommended daily intake.
Nuts are also beneficial for people with diabetes. They reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Topping Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or oatmeal with 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts provides crunch and flavor while increasing your breakfast’s nutritional value.
9. NUT BUTTER
If a person does not eat animal products, eating nuts is another excellent way to get enough protein. There are 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons of peanut butter, which is roughly 20 percent of the daily recommended amount for adult men and women.
Nut butter is very versatile. You can spread nut butter on whole grain toast, mix it into oatmeal or yogurt, or use it as a dip for fresh fruit.
Healthful kinds of nut butter include:
- peanut butter
- almond butter
- cashew butter
- unsweetened cocoa and hazelnut butter
Looking for simple healthy breakfast foods? Turn to berries (of all kinds — blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries), which have low glycemic loads — meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels like that glass of OJ will.
A cup of berries contains only about 50 to 85 calories, but tons of anthocyanins, antioxidants that been shown to reduce inflammation and protect the heart. Berries are lower in sugar than most fruits, yet higher in fiber.
Berries not in season? Go for frozen. Researches show that frozen berries actually tend to have higher antioxidant levels than fresh varieties because they are picked, packed, and sealed at their peak ripeness.
A good way to add berries to your breakfast is to eat them with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
Fruit can be a delicious part of a nourishing breakfast. Berries, bananas, or melon – take your pick. There’s no such things as an unhealthy fruit.
However, you should mix and match your fruit choices to take advantage of a variety of different nutrients. Blueberries, for example, are high in antioxidants while oranges are loaded with vitamin C and potassium.
All types of fruit contain vitamins, potassium, fiber and are relatively low in calories. Citrus fruits are also very high in vitamin C. In fact, one large orange provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.
Fruit is also very filling due to its high fiber and water contents.
Pair fruit with eggs, cheese, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for a well-balanced breakfast that will sustain you for hours.
Coffee has received a bad rap over the years, but long-term medical studies are now tipping in favor of the caffeinated beverage. As long as you’re not pushing four cups a day, there’s nothing wrong with drinking coffee.
Coffee is an amazing beverage to start your day. It’s high in caffeine, which has been shown to improve mood, alertness and mental performance. Even small amounts of caffeine can achieve these effects. Caffeine has also been shown to increase metabolic rate and fat burning.
Studies found the most effective dose to be 38-400 mg per day to maximize the benefits of caffeine while reducing side effects. This is roughly 0.3 to 4 cups of coffee per day, depending on the coffee’s strength.
However, adding cream or sugar will reduce the beneficial effects of coffee. It is best to reduce or avoid adding sugar to coffee and choose nonfat or plant-based milk instead of cream.
HOW TO BUILD A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” may sound like an old wives’ tale at this point, but some time-honored beliefs are worth the hype.In order to avoid potential brain-fog induced by low-blood sugar, you need breakfast. Starting off the day with a full, nutrient-dense meal also allows you to keep making better choices throughout the day, including zapping those late-night snack cravings.
Here are our top guidelines to make your breakfast that much more delicious (and nutritious):
- Eat breakfast every day (no exceptions!): A large body of evidence consistently supports the idea that consuming breakfast leads to better overall health and a lower body mass index (BMI). Research suggests that you’re likely to burn more calories throughout the day after having a big breakfast, while skipping breakfast is linked to burning fewer calories throughout the day – negating any weight-loss benefit of taking in fewer calories to begin with.
- Skip the sugary stuff: Cereals, granola, oatmeal, bars, bagels, and juice tend to be code words for sugar, which can set you up for an energy crash and ultimately overeating later on in the day. Look for cereals that are in the single digits for added sugar, breakfast bars that are under 4 grams of added sugar per serving, and unsweetened dairy products. Most importantly, steer clear of sugary beverages, which often include sweetened coffee and tea drinks.
- Choose lean protein: Prioritize eggs, seafood, unsweetened dairy products (like yogurt), poultry, legumes, beans, and lean cuts of beef and pork, and minimize your intake of processed deli meats.
- Power up with produce: Try adding leftover veggies to eggs for a satisfying breakfast combo (plan ahead by making extra at dinner!); add more vegetables to omelets; or grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door. More produce equals more fiber, which can help you stay fuller, longer.
- When in doubt, make it bigger: Breakfast should contain at least 300-350 calories for most of us, and you should be chewing, not drinking, your morning meal. (Sipping calories instead of eating them can make you feel less full and more ravenous for your next meal.)
A good breakfast should combine protein, stick-to-your-ribs fat, and some fiber-filled carbs. This is your key to feeling satisfied, energized, and not ready to eat your stapler by lunch. To make any of the breakfast combos suggested below heartier, up the veggies and/or fruit — these are unlimited.
If you’re already a breakfast eater and you know that adding more veggies and fruit isn’t going to make you feel more satisfied, then it’s pretty likely that you’re not getting enough protein at breakfast. Add an extra egg, more nuts or nut butter, or some leftover chicken – you get the picture.
Foods to avoid:
Bacon, sausage, hash browns, processed cheese, biscuits with gravy, or granola bars.
Most of these foods either contain a lot of saturated fat or are high in sugar. They’re all right to eat once in a while, but not on a regular basis.
People tend to think of granola bars as being healthy. But it’s cheaper and more healthy to have just a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit.
These are just a handful of the many ways you can build a healthy breakfast. The key is to think outside the traditional cereal, bagels, or pastries, and choose options that are well-balanced and can add nutrients to your day.