They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In fact, research shows that a high-quality breakfast can reduce stress and depression in adolescents. Research of adults shows that those who consume a healthy, high-quality breakfast are more likely to eat healthier throughout the day. In fact, a study of adults in Canada shows that those who consume a healthy breakfast containing foods such as whole grains, fruit, and/or whole grains, had higher daily intakes of important nutrients like fiber. So, if you’re trying to cut calories this new year, instead of skipping important meals like breakfast, then just choose healthier choices. Read below for some healthy breakfast ideas no matter what specialized diet you follow.
The anatomy of a healthy breakfast
Just like with any meal during the day, your breakfast meal should be balanced. This means that your breakfast meal should contain a healthy balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Fiber is important for digestive health, while healthy fats provide anti-inflammatory antioxidants. And protein is not only important for helping you to maintain lean muscle mass, but it also keeps you fuller in between meals than carbohydrates alone.
Healthy breakfast protein sources
When it comes to protein and breakfast, eggs may be the first thing to come to mind. And at about 6 grams of protein per egg, they are certainly a good breakfast choice. However, not everyone can consume eggs due to food allergies, intolerances, or other special diet restrictions. Therefore, here are some other breakfast protein sources you can choose from to create your healthy morning meal.
- Nut or seed butter: At around 7 or 8 grams of protein per two-tablespoon serving, nuts and seed butter are a delicious and nutritious addition to any healthy breakfast. Spread on whole grain toast, pair with fresh apple slices, or mix in with hot oatmeal for nutty flavor.
- Beans: Whether its black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans, beans can add a rich fiber and protein source to any meal. For breakfast, throw some beans in with your omelette or mash up some beans and spread on toast with some sliced veggies or avocado. Just one-half cup of cooked black beans contains 7.5 grams of filling fiber and protein.
- Tofu: If you don’t eat eggs, then you can take firm tofu. Add in some salt, pepper, and perhaps an anti-inflammatory spice like turmeric. Then cook up this mixture in a pan with some heart-healthy olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes. Use just like eggs to add protein to your breakfast meal.
- Milk: Soy milk or cow’s milk can add about 8 grams of protein per cup to your breakfast meal. Ou can use lactose-free milk if you’re lactose intolerant. Drink alone or add to whole-grain cereal or oatmeal to add extra protein to your morning meal.
- Yogurt: Yogurt, especially in its Greek-style form, is rich in protein and probiotics. Greek yogurt typically contains twice the amount of protein as standard-style yogurt. Choose brands of yogurt less than 10 grams of sugar per 6-ounce serving to limit added sugar in your diet.
Healthy breakfast fiber sources
Fiber comes from a variety of sources like whole grains and produce as well as legumes. Here are some high fiber foods that would go well with a healthy breakfast meal.
- Whole grain toast: Whole-wheat or 12-grain toast are some examples of fiber-rich whole-grain bread. Choose breads that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per slice and have whole grains as the first ingredient. Beware of breads like “white wheat” or “honey wheat” that may be more processed and may contain unnecessary added sugars. You can top whole-grain toast with protein-rich peanut butter. You can even pair them with eggs or avocado for a filling and nutritious breakfast dish.
- Vegetables like greens, tomatoes, or peppers: You can add spinach, diced bell peppers, onions, and/or tomatoes to omelettes, or combine such veggies together for a salsa to top your eggs with. Other ways to add fiber-rich veggies to breakfast include topping whole grain toast with sautéed greens, adding veggies to quiche, or add veggies to a sweet potato breakfast hash to pair with your protein.
- Fruit: Lower sugar fruits like strawberries, orange slices, or blueberries are great on their own as a sweet and fiber rich addition to any breakfast meal.
- Beans: As mentioned before, beans are a great fiber source, but also equally as high in fiber.
- Seeds: Sprinkle some chia seeds on your yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal for extra fiber. Chia seeds contain about 5.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon.
Healthy breakfast healthy fat sources
The final piece of your healthy breakfast puzzle is healthy fat. Here are some delicious ways to add healthy fats to your balanced breakfast meal. And you may notice that some of these foods are also found on the protein source list too, which makes them extra nutritious foods you should add to your morning repertoire.
- Avocado: Slice up avocado on toast or eat alone with a spoon for a rich source of healthy fats.
- Olive oil: Cook your eggs, tofu, or veggies in olive oil for added fats.
- Smoked salmon: Add smoked salmon on your whole grain toast for added omega-3 fatty acids. One ounce contains just 33 calories, but has 5 grams of protein and nearly one gram of unsaturated fats, with only about 200 milligrams of sodium.
- Eggs: As mentioned before, eggs are a nutritious protein source, but are also a healthy omeg-a3 fatty acid source contrary to popular belief. Therefore, have your egg white and eat your yolk too since this golden part of the egg is where the healthy fats and lots of nutrients reside.
- Nuts: One ounce of nuts like peanuts, almonds, or walnuts contain under 200 calories, and about 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber as well as omega-3 fatty acids and plant sterols that are beneficial to heart health. Sprinkle on your oatmeal or eat alone for a portable nutrient-dense snack to start your day.
- Seeds: Chia, flax, and hulled sunflower seeds, are just some of the heart-healthy seeds that can add healthy fats to your morning meal. Sprinkle on whole grain toast with some nut or seed butter, sprinkle into smoothies for extra nutrition, or eat alone as a nutritious morning snack.
Other healthy breakfast tips
Now that you know how to create a balanced breakfast meal, here are some last-minute tips to ensure that your morning meal is the healthiest it can be.
- Avoid foods with added sugar.
- Limit high sodium processed meat products.
- Stay away from refined carbohydrates like white breads, baked goods, and sugary juices.
- Be cautious of so-called “healthy” juices and smoothies you buy in-store since some of these may contain added sugar or artificial flavors.
- Set your alarm so you can have time to make a healthy breakfast.
I know that this is a lot of information, but if you start using a tip or two each week from this list, then you will be on your way to a healthier breakfast, and in turn a healthier overall lifestyle.
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