Good Breakfast Foods to Get Your Day Off to a Healthy Start
Why Is a Healthy Breakfast So Important?
We've all heard that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." After "fasting" all night while we sleep, our bodies need to be refueled and rehydrated in the morning to keep them running properly. A healthy breakfast provides us with the necessary energy to help us get through our busy day.
Grabbing a coffee on the way out the door to work, or picking up high fat and high sugar foods at the drive-thru or coffee shop do nothing to help our bodies start the day off right. Loading up on sugar and fat in the morning throws our blood sugar levels out of whack, resulting in sluggishness or cravings later in the morning - often resulting in refueling with more sugary or fatty snacks!
So why do so many of us either choose such unhealthy foods for breakfast or skip it altogether?
The usual reason given is lack of time, but when you consider the difference eating a healthy breakfast can make to your energy levels and overall health, it's definitely worth trying to make time for it.
What Are Good Breakfast Foods?
The key components of a healthy breakfast are whole grains, protein and fruits or vegetables. This combination will increase your energy levels and keep you feeling full and satisfied longer throughout the morning. If you try to incorporate choices from each of these groups in your first meal in the morning, then you will be well on your way to a healthier and more energetic you.
Protein is an important component of a healthy breakfast. Protein gives your body energy, helps maintain healthy muscles, builds and repairs tissue, fights infection and much more.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein. A whole egg contains about 6 grams of protein. If you're watching your cholesterol, you may want to use egg whites instead of whole eggs at least some of the time. However, recent studies suggest cholesterol in food does not raise blood cholesterol or increase your risk of heart disease.
Boiling or poaching your eggs are both very healthy choices, since these methods don't require the use of any fats for cooking. Omelettes or scrambled eggs can be made with a small amount of olive oil and are healthy options too.
Other good sources of protein for breakfast are:
- low fat or greek yogurt
- protein powder (add to smoothies or hot cereals)
- peanut or almond butter
- lean Canadian style peameal bacon
Egg Facts: Did You Know?
There is no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.
The majority of an egg's vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk.
Eggs contain iron, Vitamins A, D, E and B12, folate, lutein, selenium and are a complete protein source.
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates which help to stabilize our blood sugar levels, provide energy and keeping you feeling full longer after eating. They are high in fiber and improve digestion. They are a very important part of a nutritious breakfast.
Oatmeal is an ideal breakfast food. It's high in fiber and will keep you feeling full for a long time. It also contains important nutrients such as protein, silicon and phosphorus. Try to avoid the packages of single serving oatmeal though - they are typically full of sugar and additives, and you'll pay a lot more for them too.
Other good sources of whole grains include:
- whole grain toast
- rye toast
- whole wheat english muffin
- whole wheat tortilla
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits provide the body with energy and a wide variety of vitamins, nutrients and anti-oxidants. A good healthy eating goal is to try to eat two fruits or vegetables with every meal.
Try these ideas to incorporate more fruit into your breakfasts:
- Add frozen or fresh berries to your yogurt, cereal or oatmeal
- Make a fruit smoothie part of your regular breakfast menu. Try using different fruits every day for variety - the possibilities are almost endless!
- Keep your fridge stocked with a variety of fresh fruits. Chop some up the night before if you think you will be rushed in the morning.
Vegetables also make a wonderful addition to a healthy breakfast. Try any of the following to increase the nutritional level of your breakfast:
- Make a green smoothie, using leafy greens such as spinach or kale.
- Add vegetables like red peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach to an omelet or scrambled eggs.
- Add a slice of tomato to an egg sandwich.
Choose fruits over fruit juices whenever possible.
Eat a wide range of colours of fruits and vegetables every week.
Keep berries and chopped fruits in the freezer for smoothies.
Fresh and frozen fruit are both good for you - use whatever is most convenient for you.
Eat a Rainbow of Colours to Stay Healthy
Red Fruits and Vegetables
Yellow / Orange Fruits
Blue / Purple Fruits
Green Fruits and Vegetables
Raspberries & Strawberries
Pink / Red Grapefruit
For a Nutritional Boost
To add an extra nutritional boost to your breakfast, try adding any of the following to your smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal or cereal:
- flax seed
- wheat germ
- hulled hemp hearts
- white chia seeds
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
Healthy Breakfast Options - Mix and Match
Fruits and Veggies
Whole grain toast
Scrambled egg whites
Whole wheat tortilla (make a breakfast wrap)
Tomatoes and spinach cooked with the eggs
Whole wheat english muffin
Strawberry banana yogurt smoothie
Mixed berries and chopped apple
1/2 cup of low fat milk
Blueberries and banana
Soft boiled egg
Sliced cantaloupe or peaches
Whole grain toast
Red peppers, onions, mushrooms (in omelette)
Magic Muesli - A Healthy Way to Start the Day
Try Theresa Albert's Magic Muesli recipe for a healthy and nutritious breakfast. It is loaded with protein, nutrients and fiber, and will keep you feeling full for hours.
Best of all - it tastes good too!
In a Hurry? Ideas for Breakfast on the Go
Just because you're in a hurry in the morning, doesn't mean you should skip eating a healthy breakfast. The ideal solution is to get up ten or 15 minutes earlier to make time to eat a nutrititious meal. However, this is often easier said than done. If you don't have time to sit down to eat, try one of the following ideas for a healthy breakfast you can eat while you're running out the door:
- PB&B Wrap - Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla, add a banana and roll it up
- Fruit Smoothie - Mix up your favourite fruit with some yogurt and flax, hemp or chia seeds
- Hard boiled egg, a handful of red grapes or an apple, and a piece of toast
- A turkey sandwich on rye or whole grain bread
- Breakfast Wrap - Wrap scrambled eggs and some salsa in a whole wheat tortilla
Do you usually eat breakfast?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Kathy Sima