Experts Say These Foods Are The Key To A Healthy Breakfast
According to a 2011 survey done by Kellogg, only 34% of Americans eat breakfast every day. Those who do eat breakfast are more likely to live longer. If you’re wondering what foods contribute to a nutritious breakfast and which ones you should avoid, look no further. Here are the healthiest (and unhealthiest) breakfast foods according to experts.
Adding Peanut Butter To Your Breakfast Might Help Combat Cancer
Toast, oatmeal, smoothies–peanut butter can go in any one of these. Peanut butter is 75% monounsaturated fat, mainly oleic acid, which has many health benefits. According to Current Pharmaceutical Biology, oleic acid is such a potent anti-inflammatory that it can even combat cancer cells.
The more peanut butter you eat, the longer you might live. In 2015, a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology tested people who ate peanuts every day. They were 20% less likely to die from cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Why not eat some in the morning?
Almonds Are Full Of Nutrients
Whether you add almonds to yogurt, granola, or baked goods, you’re making a wise choice. For such a small nut, almonds pack an impressive amount of nutrients. Research in The Journal of Nutrition determined that almonds’ antioxidants can lower inflammation. After four weeks of eating almonds daily, participants had 34% less oxidative stress in their bodies.
A handful of almonds supplies six grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber, which will keep you full throughout the morning. In 2013, a four-week study showed that almond-eaters tend to consume fewer calories overall. You’ll feel satisfied all morning.
Donuts Might Make You More Hungry
Most people know that donuts are unhealthy, but do you know what they do to your body? Donut’s high sugar with little protein and fiber disrupts your insulin levels. According to registered dietitian Kate Patton, donuts spike your blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, you’ll feel more hungry and tired than you did before.
Donuts also contain trans fats. The American Heart Association advises against these fats because they heighten your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Over time, this could trigger a stroke, heart disease, or diabetes. Why start your morning with such an unhealthy meal?
Unsweetened Cranberry Juice Is The Healthy Choice
If you’re a fruit juice person, cranberry juice might be your healthiest option. People who drink this juice every day earn many health benefits. During a 2019 study, men drank low-calorie cranberry juice every day for eight weeks. By the end, they had better cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease.
The catch? You need unsweetened juice. If you pick up Ocean Spray cranberry juice, you’ll be consuming 25 mg of sodium and 23 grams of sugar. Instead, pick an unsweetened cranberry juice and add it to sparkling water or smoothies to make it less tart.
Chia Seeds Will Make You Feel Fuller For Longer
Would you believe that seeds can make people feel fuller? Chia seeds can. They supply 11 grams of fiber per ounce, much of which is viscous fiber. According to research in Obesity Reviews, viscous fiber absorbs water and helps people feel fuller for longer.
Many people add chia seeds to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal. You can also create chia seed pudding. Combine the seeds with milk, juice, or yogurt and leave it for at least ten minutes. The seeds will absorb the liquid and form a thicker consistency that you can put on cereal, bread, or yogurt.
You Might Want To Avoid Pancakes
Although pancakes are a staple breakfast food, they are not a healthy meal. Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian and author with Eating Well, explained that most pancakes contain refined grains and low fiber. These are not filling; you’ll end up feeling hungry halfway through the morning.
Not to mention that most pancakes are topped with butter and maple syrup. Although maple syrup is touted as a “natural sweetener,” Consumer Reports found that it is less healthy than sugar. It is highly refined and often lower-quality than brown sugar. Don’t just avoid the syrup; ignore pancakes altogether.
Eggs Are Good For Your Cholesterol
A common myth says that eggs increase your cholesterol. If you’re worried about that, you might not need to be. According to a 2006 study, eggs heighten the “good” cholesterol, HDL. This helps the body eliminate the “bad” cholesterol, LDL, which clogs your arteries and leads to strokes. It’s a win-win breakfast.
Eggs also contain more protein than other breakfast options. In 2010, a study in Nutrient Research compared an egg breakfast to bagels. When participants ate eggs, they felt fuller and ate fewer calories throughout the day than those who had bagels.
Instant Oatmeal Packets Are Sugar Bombs
Although oatmeal is generally healthy, microwaving instant oatmeal is a mistake. Edward Giovannucci, a nutrition professor at Harvard, warns people against sweetened oats. “Instant has all the whole grain components, but my concern is the sugar added,” he told Time. A pack of Quaker oats could have as much as 18 grams of sugar.
Instant oats are flavored with preservatives and sweeteners that overthrow the healthy aspects. Although oats are gluten-free, their manufacturing and transportation could expose people to gluten, Giovannucci adds. You’re better off choosing unsweetened instant oatmeal or making some yourself.
Why Raw Oatmeal Is So Much Better
If you make oatmeal from scratch, it’s one of the healthiest breakfasts you can eat. It offers fiber, protein, and nutritious carbs. In 2019, a study in the journal Nutrients found that oatmeal-eaters tend to have a healthier diet overall.
During another 2019 study, participants replaced a breakfast of white toast and eggs with oatmeal. Oatmeal-eaters ended up having a lower risk of stroke. If you’re worried about not feeling full after eating, don’t be. Oatmeal keeps people full throughout the day because of its high fiber.
Fruit Juice Is As Bad As Soda
Although fruit juice sounds healthy (it has fruit in the name), it is not. Research in JAMA found that many juices are just as bad as sugary beverages like soda. Both drinks increase your chance of premature death by 24%, according to scientists.
Why? Because fruit juice contains as much sugar as soda. Juices are highly refined, resulting in blood sugar spikes and weight gain. In 2019, a study in the BMJ concluded that fruit juice can even raise the risk of overall cancer. Skip that glass of orange juice if you want to remain healthy.
A Banana Isn’t A Full Meal, But It Will Help You Feel Fuller
Bananas are a healthy way to add some sweetness to your morning. They contain antioxidants that can lower your chances of heart disease, according to the British Journal of Nutrition. Because bananas are all resistant starch, they make you feel fuller despite having little protein. In 2010, researchers found that banana-eaters felt fuller after having one.
However, Dr. Daryl Gioffre advises against eating only a banana for breakfast. They are 25% sugar, so “you’ll soon be tired and feeling hungry.” Instead, add a banana to toast, cereal, oatmeal, or a smoothie.
How Sugary Cereals Can Lead To Obesity
While testing children’s cereals, Canadian researchers found that 98% of cereals derive 1/5 of their calories from sugar. These sweet cereals have serious health consequences over time. According to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, sugar cereals can lead to obesity, a risk factor for 13 known cancers.
Registered dietitian Tracey Lockwood Beckerman says that sweetened cereals have short-term consequences, too. High-sugar meals with little protein or fiber can upset your stomach because the body struggles to break them down. Sure, the milk provides some protein, but you’ll still get a sugar crash later. Opt for high-fiber, low-sugar cereals instead.
Instead, Buy A Fiber-Filled Cereal With These Tips
If you’re a cereal fan, don’t fret! You can choose a healthy breakfast cereal if you know what to look for. Kara Landau, a registered dietitian and founder of Uplift Food, advises people to look at the ingredients. “Look out for those that are higher in fiber and protein without a lot of added sugars or preservatives,” she told Men’s Health.
Whole-grain cereals with a lot of fiber can fill you more than sugary, refined cereals. Find a cereal with at least three grams of fiber and protein per serving. Also, avoid any cereal with more than ten grams of sugar.
Toaster Pastries = Ten Teaspoons Of Sugar
Toaster pastries are some of the worst breakfasts that you can eat. Although they are “fruit-filled,” these ingredients are hardly real fruit. They are fruit flavors, jams, and preservatives laced with sugar. Combine that with refined grains, and you have a dessert, not a breakfast. Two Pop-Tarts contain 26 grams of sugar–almost ten teaspoons!
Many people know that toaster pastries aren’t healthy, yet still eat them for nostalgia. In 1997, the New York Times reported that Pop-Tarts were the most popular breakfast food of the decade. Even so, they offer no nutritional value and are better left on the shelf.
Enjoy Coffee’s Benefits Without The Jitters
Many people wonder whether coffee is a healthy start to the day. The answer is yes! A review of studies in the Nutrition Bulletin concluded that coffee improves alertness, energy, and mood. If you want these benefits with no side effects, stay between 0.3 and four cups per day, researchers say.
The flip-side: don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach. Dr. Adam Simon, a chief medical officer at PushDoctor, says that doing so “can give you jitters, shakes, and other withdrawal effects, including mood changes.” Always eat something with your coffee!
People Who Eat White Toast Don’t Tend To Live As Long
Eating toast is fine, but beware of which bread you choose. White bread is far less healthy than whole grain. In 2019, a study in Nutrients analyzed over 3,000 people over 50 and the bread they ate. Those who ate white bread did not live as long, nor did they age as gracefully.
Why is this? When flour is refined, it loses much of its nutritional value and fiber, says registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade. Because it’s low in fiber, the body absorbs sugar rapidly, leading to spikes in blood glucose. That’s why you should swap out white toast.
Why Whole Wheat Toast Is So Much Better
If you have toast for breakfast, use whole wheat bread. Whole grains have far more protein, antioxidants, and fiber than white bread. They can also fight against obesity. During a 2008 study, participants had less belly fat when they ate whole wheat bread as opposed to refined grains.
People who eat whole grains also tend to live longer. According to 2015 research in JAMA Internal Medicine, whole wheat-eaters had a lower risk of premature death from heart disease and stroke. What more motivation do you need to switch to whole grains?
Blueberries Are The King Of Antioxidants
Blueberries are incredibly nutritious for how few calories they have. In 2008, researchers reviewed 25 fruits in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Blueberries had more antioxidants than any other fruit. Experts believe that these antioxidants can repair DNA damage, which protects against diabetes, aging, and cancer.
Because they are naturally sweet and tart, blueberries can add flavor to almost any breakfast. Put them in cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, or even pancakes. If you eat a cup of blueberries every day, you’ll have a 15% lower chance of heart disease, according to a study by the University of East Anglia. Enjoy!
For A Healthy Dose Of Caffeine, Drink Green Tea
If you’re not a coffee fan, try starting your morning with a cup of green tea. Each cup has between 35 and 70 mg of caffeine, half the amount of coffee. But green tea has far more antioxidants than coffee. Its main antioxidant, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), protects the brain, nervous system, and heart.
Some studies found that green tea can boost your metabolism. Research in the International Journal of Obesity found that green tea increases the number of calories and fat burned. Although it might not help much with weight loss, green tea is still a healthy way to start your day.
Pre-Made Smoothies Aren’t Good For Teeth
Although pre-made smoothies seem healthy and convenient, they have more negatives than positives. A Naked Pomegranate Blueberry smoothie contains a whopping 61 grams of sugar. Because of their high sugar content, smoothies can harm your teeth. According to a study in the European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry, smoothies cause as much tooth decay as Diet Coke.
Because these smoothies are all fruit and sugar, they don’t keep people full. Researchers at Purdue University found that smoothie drinkers consumed up to 19% more calories than people who ate whole fruit. A simple fruit smoothie is not enough to get you through the morning.
How To Make Homemade Smoothies Right
Although fruit smoothies have many downsides, they can become a healthy breakfast if you make them right. Registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty gave some advice on healthy smoothies in Better by Today.
Cassetty recommends adding some form of protein (such as milk, protein powder, or nut butter), fat (chia seeds, flaxseeds, or coconut oil), and greens (spinach, celery, or kale) to every fruit smoothie. That way, you’ll feel fuller and get some extra vitamins. Do not overload on fruit, seeds, or other add-ons, as those will only add calories. Keep your smoothie as simple as possible.
Avoid Sweetened, Fruit-Filled Yogurt
While yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, avoid pre-packaged fruity yogurts. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Annie Ailts says that many fruit-filled yogurts are high in sugar and sweeteners. These could make you crash later in the day.
A study of UK supermarkets found that 91% of yogurts had around 16 grams of sugar, over half of your recommended daily intake. On her blog, registered dietitian Amy Plano recommends finding a yogurt with less than 12 grams of sugar per serving. That might be non-flavored yogurt that you have to sweeten later.
Opt For A Low-Sugar Yogurt Like Greek Yogurt
If you’re looking for an optimal weight-loss breakfast, pick up some Greek yogurt. Along with providing protein, yogurt also increases satiety. According to a 2015 study in Nutrition Reviews, yogurt raises the levels of PYY and GLP-1. These two hormones help the body feel fuller.
Most nutritionists recommend Greek yogurt. It has twice the amount of protein as non-Greek yogurt, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Plus, it’s less likely to contain added sugars, which could make you crash later in the day. Flavor your yogurt with fruit, honey, nuts, or jam.
Eat Cottage Cheese To Build Muscle And Lose Weight
With high protein and few calories, cottage cheese is a simple but highly nutritious breakfast. It’s especially helpful for people who want a weight-conscious morning meal. In 2018, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people lost weight when they ate cottage cheese before bed. Perhaps morning cottage cheese will give you the same result!
Cottage cheese can also help people build muscle. Eighty percent of its protein is casein, the same as in whey. Because it absorbs slowly, casein inhibits muscles from breaking down, according to a 2011 study. Plus, cottage cheese is simply tasty!
Why Granola Bars Are Basically Candy Bars
While some granola bars can be healthy, many of them are candy bars in disguise. In 2015, Dr. Robert H. Shmerling of Harvard Health compared a Luna Bar to a Snickers bar. Although Luna had more protein and nutrients, salt-wise, they only varied by one gram. It also had 11 grams of sugar, the same as a chocolate donut!
Fortunately, registered dietitian Andy Bellatti told Time what to look for in a granola bar. He recommends following the “rule of five”: finding a bar that has at least five grams of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fat.
Waffles Are A No-No, Even Whole Grain Ones
Whether you toast instant waffles or make your own, it’s not a healthy breakfast. Waffles contain refined carbs, sugar, and fat that contribute to diseases. According to Consumer Reports, the average Belgium waffle from iHOP has 17 grams of sugar and 29 grams of fat.
But what about whole grain waffles? Still a no-go. Registered dietitian Isabelle Smith says that the ideal breakfast includes whole carbs, protein, fiber, and low sugar. Most people don’t eat waffles with protein; they have it with syrup. In reality, you aren’t being that much healthier by eating whole-grain waffles.
Why People Who Drink Milk Tend To Live Longer
Milk isn’t just for children. It has many nutrients, and research suggests that drinking milk can elongate your life. In the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, a study tracked adults who drank low-fat milk. On average, they lived 4.5 years longer than those who didn’t.
Milk soothes inflammation in the body, which can prevent diseases later in life. Also, one glass provides 30% of your recommended daily calcium and eight grams of protein. It’s an easy way to add protein to cereal, oatmeal, or smoothies. Perfect!
Add Walnuts For Better Gut Health
Walnuts are a delicious and flexible breakfast nut. Along with supplying protein, walnuts nourish your gut. According to a 2018 study in Nutrients, walnuts increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the intestines. It also helps people’s digestion and bowel movements.
If you’re searching for weight-conscious breakfast options, walnuts can help. Research in Disease, Obesity & Metabolism tracked participants who ate smoothies with walnuts. They had less hunger and cravings than people who didn’t eat walnuts. Add these nuts to baked goods, granola, and oatmeal for an added source of protein and omega-3s.
Even “Healthy” Frozen Breakfasts Can Raise Your Blood Pressure
Although frozen breakfast meals are convenient, they are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Even the “healthy” ones can harm your blood pressure. In 2014, Consumer Reports ranked 16 brands of premade breakfasts. The healthiest one (Kellogg’s Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich) still had a whopping 820 mg of sodium.
Pre-packaged foods all have excess sodium to keep them fresh. According to a 2009 review in Food Science and Food Safety, 95% of men and 75% of women in the U.S. eat too much salt. This can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney ailments, and even osteoporosis. Don’t add more salt to your breakfast!
Here’s Why You Should Limit Bacon
Although “bacon and eggs” is the quintessential American breakfast, bacon overrides all the health benefits of eggs. Four slices of bacon contain 40% of your recommended daily fat. And bacon’s fat–mostly saturated fat–can raise your risk of heart disease, says registered dietitian Lisa Cimperman.
Bacon also has unhealthy preservatives called nitrates and nitrites. In 2015, the World Health Organization tested the daily recommended dose of processed meats (two grams). Even that increased peoples’ risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. As tasty as bacon can be, you’re better off ordering something else.
Whey Will Fill You More Than Other Meals
If you want a healthy protein shake in the morning, choose whey. This protein powder has many health benefits, such as increasing muscle mass, reducing inflammation, and lowering blood pressure. During a 2005 study, researchers determined that whey can lower blood sugar levels, even when participants ate a high-carb meal.
Whey can also fill you up more than other foods. In the British Journal of Nutrition, a study compared whey protein powder to turkey, egg, and tuna meals. When participants ate whey, they had a better insulin response and a lower appetite than any of the other meals.
Cream Cheese: An Immune-Boosting Probiotic
Cream cheese is a tasty protein choice, especially for people who don’t want much dairy since it is low in lactose. It also provides healthy probiotics. In 2012, a study in the Journal of Food Science studied dried tomato-flavored cream cheese. The cheese’s probiotics strengthened the immune system and improved gut health.
On the downside, cream cheese does not offer as much protein as other dairy products. An ounce of cream cheese supplies less than two grams of protein. However, if you want a low-protein breakfast or snack, cream cheese will be a perfect choice.
Large Bagels Are Not Worth The Calories
Bagels can fit into a healthy breakfast, but most bagels are simply too much. A medium-sized bagel is 300 calories, but most are larger–between 500 and 600 calories. On top of that, most bagels are made from refined grains. According to Food Network Healthy, even many whole-wheat varieties only have a few whole grains, not enough to make them healthy.
Because bagels have few nutrients, protein, or fiber, they are what nutritionists call empty calories. Registered dietitian Gloria Tsang says that empty calories are not worth eating because they only give you sugar.
…But You Can Pick A Healthy Bagel
Although many bagels only add calories, you can fit bagels into a healthy diet. During an interview with Eating Well, registered dietitian Lauren Smith gave some tips. Her main tip is to eat less. Eat half a bagel, scoop out the insides, or buy bagel thins for fewer carbs and refined sugar.
When you choose a bagel, pick whole-grain, nothing flavored or sweetened. Smith recommends pairing your bagel with protein and fat. Cream cheese, avocado, peanut butter, hummus, eggs, or smoked salmon can make your bagel healthier and more filling.
Never Buy Fruit Canned In Syrup
According to researchers from Michigan State University, canned fruit can be just as nutritious as fresh fruit. However, avoid fruit canned in syrup. Registered dietitian Amy Gorin says that they only add sugar to the fruit. “Fruit is plenty sweet on its own, so you don’t need any added sugar with it,” she says.
Instead of natural sugars, syrup (even “light” syrup) contains artificial sweeteners. In the Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics, a study found that artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain and even bladder and brain tumors. Buy canned fruit with 100% juice or water.
Frozen Fruit Is More Nutritious Than Fresh Fruit
Some people assert that frozen fruit is not as healthy as fresh ones. But this is not true. Food scientists from the University of California, Davis, found no difference in the nutrient content between fresh and frozen fruits. In fact, frozen fruits were more likely to have a higher vitamin content.
When companies freeze fruit, they do it at peak ripeness. This is when fruits have their highest nutrition content. The vitamins remain active in fruit until they thaw. If you want a convenient breakfast, add frozen fruit to oatmeal or a smoothie. Easy!
Flaxseeds Can Guard Against Multiple Diseases
Flaxseeds are another seed that you can easily add to many breakfast meals. Two tablespoons of flaxseeds offer three grams of protein, four grams of fiber, and plenty of omega-3s. According to registered dietitian Cynthia Sass, these nutrients can protect against bone fractures, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Flaxseeds are also an easy way to enhance heart health. They contain a type of fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). According to The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, ALA lowers a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Grind flaxseeds into shakes, oatmeal, pancakes, or cereal for a heart-healthy boost.
Low-Fat Peanut Butter Is Not As Good As It Sounds
Reduced-fat peanut butter might sound healthier, but it isn’t. Peanut butter usually contains healthy fats that benefit your heart. When this fat is reduced, it is replaced with artificial sweeteners and saturated fat, says registered dietitian Cristina Rivera.
“[Peanut butter] fats protect our heart, lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol, and fight inflammation in our bodies,” Rivera told Time. When these fats are removed, peanut butter becomes less healthy. If you’re worried about fat content, eat peanut butter in moderation. But definitely buy the full-fat version.
The Long-Term Effects Of Non-Dairy Or Sweet Coffee Creamers
Coffee creamer might not seem like a big deal, but registered dietitian Kristen Carli says that people can drink too much if they aren’t keeping track. “Depending on the type of creamer…you can very easily hit your limit on added sugars per day,” she told Byrdie. That’s why you should avoid sweetened creamers.
Creamers with excess sugar could easily add up and raise your blood sugar over time. Beware of non-dairy creamers, too. Registered dietitian Julie Andrews says that non-dairy creamers contain hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup. In excess, these could increase liver fat and cause gastrointestinal issues.