The Modern Breakfast: Trending Foods That Fuel Your Day
The well-worn cliché of ‘breakfasting like a king’ exists for a reason – because it’s absolutely true. A nutrient-dense breakfast jumpstarts your day; it ‘breaks’ your evening ‘fast’, providing a much-needed hit of nourishing fuel for your brain and body. Skipping brekkie can lead to lagging energy levels, poor concentration and low blood sugar. Chances are, you’ll make less than healthy food choices later in the day, too.
According to the latest evidence, breakfast should provide 15-25% of your daily food intake (i.e. 300-500 calories) and deliver a slow-release of energy over the morning i. Sadly, a sugar-laden cereal bar or fast-food muffin isn’t going to cut it. So how can you get the most out of this vitally important meal? Here’s some food for thought: trending breakfast staples to fire up your day.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? Poached? Scrambled? Boiled? It really doesn’t matter; they’re all great. First and foremost, eggs are protein powerhouses, containing around 7 grams in one large egg alone. Eating protein for breakfast is always a stellar option because it enhances feelings of fullness and leaves you satisfied until lunch. Protein aside, the humble egg also delivers a ton of other nutrients: vitamin D, B6, B12, selenium, zinc, iron and copper. Worried about the cholesterol question? Don’t be. Recent data published in the American Heart Journal highlighted that eating as many as 3 eggs every day didn’t have a negative impact on heart health, even amongst those with coronary artery disease ii. For truly egg-cellent breakfasts, think turmeric scrambled eggs, boiled eggs with a handful of raw spinach, or a veggie omelette packed with mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes.
A versatile base for berries, seeds, milk and spices, oats are the ultimate breakfast food. Like eggs, rolled oats pack a mighty protein punch and deliver around 12 grams in a single cup, meaning they’ll keep any nagging hunger pangs at bay. These little guys are abundant in antioxidants, too, supporting heart function, cholesterol and blood pressure iii, iv. If that wasn’t enough to convince you of their impressive health credentials, a 2015 study published by Harvard University of more than 100,000 people discovered that individuals who ate 33 grams of whole grains on a daily basis (the equivalent to one bowl of porridge), cut their risk of early death by nearly 9 per cent, compared to those who rarely consumed whole grains v. For a nourishing, on-the-go breakfast, you can’t go wrong with overnight oats topped with fresh berries and a dollop of nut butter.
Delicious in breakfast smoothies, drizzled over porridge, or spread on wholegrain toast, health enthusiasts are nuts about nut butter at the moment. And no wonder; a spoonful of peanut, almond or cashew butter provides a hit of protein, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats. Best of all? You can make your own nut butter at home. Simply roast your nut of choice and then blend for 10-12 minutes. You can add a sprinkling of sea salt if you desire, but you don’t need oil, water, or sweetener. Et voila – your very own creamy nut butter, ready for any breakfasting occasion.
Thanks to their low GI value (the rate at which food raises your blood sugar levels), berries are the best breakfast fruit going. A cup of berries – be it raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or blueberries – contains a shed load of antioxidants and anthocyanins, which boast anti-inflammatory properties and work little miracles for your eyes, brain and immune system vi. Not berry season? Fear not: simply go frozen. A study published by the University of Chester highlighted that frozen berries actually have a superior antioxidant content than their fresh counterparts because they’re picked and packaged at their optimal ripeness vi. Smoothies, porridge and Greek yoghurt all call for a handful of these jewelled beauties.
Greek yoghurt is yet another protein-dense choice, and one that pairs perfectly with many breakfast staples mentioned here: oats, berries, nut butter, chia seeds and even eggs (seriously, your scrambled eggs won’t know what’s hit ‘em!). Besides delivering bone-bolstering calcium (one serving provides 18.7% of your daily intake) and gut-healthy live bacteria, Greek yoghurt offers a slew of other benefits including supporting digestive health, upping your vitamin B12 and potassium stores, and increasing satiety. Top tip: you need to become an ingredient sleuth when shopping for Greek yoghurt. Always look for a brand that contains the least amount of additives and sugars.
Heralded a staple of the millennial diet, the avocado has become synonymous with breakfast. Buttery, velvety and oh-so-versatile, avos goes down a treat smashed on wholegrain toast, blended in smoothies, or combined with eggs. But this green goddess doesn’t only win on the taste front – oh no; it contains a load of nutrients, too. Yup, avocados have it all: protein, fibre, vitamin E, more potassium than a banana, and copious amounts of omega-3’s (half an avo packs a quarter of your recommended daily intake!). That’s not all. New research published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that eating one and a half avocados every day could also reduce cholesterol vii.
Of the protein powerhouses we’ve mentioned, cottage cheese might just take the biscuit, delivering a satiating 31 grams in one serving. No wonder it’s become a firm favourite of bodybuilders! As we’ve mentioned before, protein is the key to curbing hunger. Indeed, in a study conducted by the University of Missouri, participants who ate a protein-dense breakfast (around the 35 gram mark) ate fewer calories throughout the day, compared to those who ate a low-protein breakfast viii. Pair your cottage cheese with fruit, wholegrain toast, and even scrambled eggs.
Adding chia seeds to your breakfast is one of the easiest ways to crank up its nutritional value. Don’t be fooled by their tiny size – chia seeds totally deserve their ‘superfood’ status. In just two tablespoons, they contain 11 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein. Chia seeds are exceptionally high in omega-3 fatty acids, too. In fact, they contain more omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram ix. Power-up your overnight oats, porridge, and smoothies with a sprinkling of these little guys.
Sprouted grain bread is the shiny new buzzword in the breakfast world. Perfect for the morning rush – not to mention a canvas on which to smash your avo or spread your nut butter, this bread deserves to become your next store cupboard essential. Unlike its white counterparts, this bread is made from 100% whole-grains – in other words, it’s not refined, so you won’t see any nasties or additives here. Better still, sprouting also breaks down the starch in grains, which lowers the bread’s carb content and makes it easier to digest x. This process also renders it low GI, meaning it won’t have such a dramatic impact on your blood sugar. xii. Yes, you can have your toast and eat it!
Whether you’re an early bird or not, breakfast is a must. Of course, trying to incorporate some of the foods we’ve mentioned above will help kick-start your day, but we understand that work happens, the school run happens, and lying-in happens; not everyone has time to poach eggs. If that’s the case, make it easy for yourself: prepare your breakfast the night before. Overnight oats, smoothies, and Greek yoghurt pots are no-nonsense brekkie options that you can whip up, store in the fridge, and grab first thing in the morning.
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Katz, D., Gnanaraj, J., Treu, J., Ma, Y., Kavak, Y. & Njike, V. (2015). Effects of egg ingestion on endothelial function in adults with coronary artery disease: A randomized, controlled, crossover trial. American Heart Journal, 169(1), 162-169.
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Leidy, H., Hoertel, H., Douglas, S., Higgins, K. & Shafer, R. (2015). A high-protein breakfast prevents body fat gain, through reductions in daily intake and hunger, in “Breakfast skipping” adolescents. Obesity, 23(9), pp.1761-1764.
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Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.