Healthy breakfasts

By Live Dr - Wed Sep 03, 9:21 am

After hours of sleep we need food, but many of us choose to give breakfast a miss. Nutritionist Suzannah Olivier explains why the first meal of the day is so key to our wellbeing and gives seven healthy options that are easy to prepare.

© The Image Bank/Getty Images - healthy breakfasts
Set aside 10 minutes in the morning for breakfast.

If you want to keep in trim, it’s tempting to skimp on breakfast and save up calories for a splurge later in the day. But this could make the battle of the bulge even more difficult.

Research tells us that eating a hearty, healthy breakfast helps to keep us slim.

In fact it looks increasingly likely that obesity and skipping breakfast are linked.

Researchers at the Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge recently published results of a four-year study showing that people who ate more at breakfast gained significantly less weight than those who skipped breakfast and ate later in the day.

It’s not clear why skipping breakfast affects weight control, but Dr Forouhi, who led the study, thinks that after a long period of starving, metabolism may subtly change, causing the body to lay down more fat.

Make it a healthy start to the day

After eight hours without food, breaking-the-fast is important to get your body and brain functioning properly in the morning.

But a double espresso and a Danish is just about the worst thing. It acts as rocket fuel, giving fast energy but burning up fast – leaving you drained and hungry by mid morning.

Eating whole grains, fruit and a source of protein at breakfast means you are less inclined to snack and more likely to eat a lighter lunch.

And as long as you are sensible about your breakfast food choices, in the long run this translates to fewer calories overall in the day.

One week of healthy breakfasts

Here are seven breakfasts that are easy to prepare, including a treat for the weekend. Try to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier to sit and eat your breakfast. But if you are in a hurry, the breakfasts for days five and six can be eaten on the run.

    Day 1

    © NatMag  - healthy breakfasts

    60g bowl of porridge (not instant types), low-sugar low-salt muesli or bran flakes, made with semi-skimmed milk and served with 25g sunflower seeds and 50g raisins.

    Why is it healthy?

    Oats and other wholegrain cereals have a low GI. This means they give slow-release energy that will keep you going until lunchtime.

    Sunflower seeds are a protein source, and the fibre in all three ingredients helps to keep blood sugar level stable and so control appetite.

    Day 2

    © NetDoctor.co.uk - healthy breakfasts

    125g plain yoghurt with half a grated apple, 50g chopped dried apricots and 25g walnuts.

    Why is it healthy?

    Yoghurt is a source of protein and so doesn’t adversely affect blood sugar.

    Walnuts boost protein levels further and are sources of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, while dried apricots provide iron and beta-carotene.

    Day 3

    © NatMag - healthy breakfasts

    A small can of reduced salt baked beans on two slices of wholemeal toast (no butter or spread). Finish off with an orange.

    Why is it healthy?

    Beans are loaded with fibre and are low-GI, while the fruit provides vitamin C. Like all pulses, beans can count towards one of your five portions of fruit and veg a day – so this breakfast gives you two portions in total.

    Day 4

    © NatMagNatMag - healthy breakfasts

    Blend 80g soft fruit (eg strawberries, banana or pear) with 100g low-fat yoghurt. Top with 60g cluster cereal (granola) and chopped dates.

    Why is it healthy?

    This breakfast gives a satisfying start to the day and gives you slow-release energy and fibre aplenty. By eating two different fruits at this time of the day you are boosting your antioxidant levels to help your immune system.

    Day 5

    © NatMagNatMag - healthy breakfasts

    Two or three rye crackers, or three or four oatcakes, topped with two teaspoons of low-sugar peanut butter and two teaspoons of apricot jam. Follow with a banana.

    Why is it healthy?

    Peanut butter is quite high in calories, but if you eat it in moderation it’s a great alternative to butter because it’s a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. This breakfast is high in fibre, which helps to keep mid-morning hunger pangs at bay.

    Day 6

    © NatMagNatMag - healthy breakfasts

    Make a smoothie from 150ml semi-skimmed milk, one medium banana and either a handful of raspberries or half a can of sugar-free red berries. Process in a blender, then tip the mixture into a plastic cup to enjoy while on your travels.

    Why is it healthy?

    This is a blameless alternative to high-cal Frappuccinos. Milk is a source of calcium and contains vitamin B12 and the minerals zinc and magnesium. Both fruits provide vitamin C and count towards your five a day, and bananas are also rich in vitamins A and B.

    Weekend treat

    © NatMag - healthy breakfasts

    Poach one egg and serve with 2 slices of grilled lean bacon, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and a slice of wholemeal toast. Start or finish with half a pink grapefruit.

    Why is it healthy?

    If you grill instead of fry and keep added oil levels to a minimum, there is no reason not to enjoy a full English breakfast. It is also a source of antioxidants, fibre, protein and whole grains. The grapefruit, tomatoes and mushrooms make it count towards your five a day.

Cereals under the spotlight

© Blend Images/Getty Images - cereals

Not all breakfast cereals live up to their healthy-eating promises. Sometimes, the lowest calorie options can contain hidden salt, fat and sugar.

Here are five of the worst so-called healthy cereals from a recent Which? report based on the Food Standard Agency’s ‘traffic light’ system.

    1. Nestlé Fitnesse and Nestlé Fitnesse & Fruit

    Both claim to be 98 per cent fat-free, but have sky high sugar levels.

    2. Kellogg’s Special K

    It might be 99 per cent fat-free, but it gets a red light for both sugar and salt.

    3. Asda Good For You Fruit Muesli

    Contains hydrogenated fat making it not so ‘good for you’ after all.

    4. Tesco Healthyliving Bran Flakes

    Gets red lights for both sugar and salt.

5. Nestlé Golden Grahams

Contains 0.75g of salt per serving – the same amount as you’d find in a 50g serving of KP salted peanuts.


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