No one wants to be trying to come up with exciting new things to eat first thing in the morning. But with a little planning, it can be easy to make a quick healthy breakfast every day.
By understanding the ‘building blocks’ of nutrients that should feature in a healthy breakfast, then stocking your fridge and store cupboard with the right ingredients, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of different foods, too – so you’ll never be bored of breakfast again.
The building blocks of a healthy breakfast
A healthy breakfast can help you to get the vitamins and minerals you need, control your blood sugar levels and give you energy for the day ahead.
Including these food 4 groups in your breakfast will ensure you’re getting a nutritious mix of carbohydrates, fibre and protein, plus a small amount of fat:
- wholegrains – such as wholegrain bread, rolls or bagels and wholegrain cereals
- lean protein – such as eggs, lean meat or fish and nuts
- low-fat dairy – such as milk, plain yoghurt and low-fat cheese
- fruit and vegetables – fresh or frozen, or in smoothies or juice (with no added sugar)
10 top healthy breakfast foods
Providing fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, wholegrain oats are one of the most nutrient-rich breakfast foods.
The type of fibre they contain can help reduce your cholesterol – which can lower your risk of heart disease – as well as helping to regulate your blood sugar.
Make your own porridge from scratch to enjoy all the health benefits without any added sugar. Make it with milk to boost the protein content of your breakfast, and try adding cinnamon, yoghurt, fruit or nuts for added flavour and nutrition.
As well as being high in protein and helping you to feel full (great for a hearty breakfast), eggs contain antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients such as choline, which is important for a healthy brain and liver.
At one time we were warned not to eat too many eggs, because they’re high in cholesterol, but it’s now thought that they can actually increase our levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.
If you have to eat on the run, try hard-boiling your eggs the day before, for a portable breakfast. Or enjoy them scrambled or poached with avocado and wholegrain toast.
If you choose carefully, a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk can make an easy healthy breakfast.
You need to watch out for added sugar, which may be listed in a form you don’t recognise, such as corn syrup, sucrose, molasses or dextrose. And choose the least-processed cereal you can find – look for one that lists a wholegrain as its first ingredient, as this will provide fibre, vitamins and minerals.
All yoghurt is a good source of protein, but creamy Greek-style yoghurt is particularly high in this essential nutrient. There are low-fat versions available, and some also contain ‘live cultures’ of bacteria that are thought to be good for your gut.
Avoid yoghurt with added sugar and flavourings and choose your own extras instead, to give your breakfast a nutritional boost – try berries, nuts or seeds, for example.
Healthy breakfast smoothies can be surprisingly filling and one of the quickest ways to work towards your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Made with milk or yoghurt, they can contain plenty of protein, too.
A small glass (150ml) of juice or smoothie counts as 1 of your 5 portions of fruit and vegetable a day. You shouldn’t drink more than that, though, because they can be high in sugar.
For a vitamin-packed breakfast, try blending some semi-skimmed milk with blueberries, spinach and banana. Top with flaxseeds to provide healthy fats, too.
Toast and nut butter
You may think peanut butter on toast isn’t healthy, but if you choose the right ingredients, it certainly can be.
Start with a good-quality wholegrain bread to provide fibre, then choose a nut butter with no added sugar or oil for a hit of energy and healthy fats. You could also try topping it with fruit, such as strawberries, to include 1 of your 5 a day.
Homemade breakfast bars
While there are some decent ready-made ‘breakfast’ or granola bars available, many are actually high in sugar and processed ingredients. So if you want a healthy breakfast on the go, making your own is the best option.
For a bar that provides fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein, try mixing together some oats, chopped nuts, dried fruit (such as dates) and peanut butter, then spreading in a tray and baking in the oven. You can experiment with different ingredients, too.
Baked beans are another food you may not think of as a healthy option, but if you choose a low-sugar, low-salt variety without additives (or make your own), they can be.
As well as being a good source of fibre and plant-based protein, baked beans provide many other important nutrients, including B vitamins, thiamine, zinc and selenium.
Try serving them with scrambled eggs and wholegrain toast for a balanced breakfast.
It may be too early in the day for some, but many people around the world enjoy fish for breakfast.
It’s often recommended that we eat at least 2 portions of fish a week because of its many health benefits, including being a good source of protein and (if it’s oily fish) high in omega-3 fats that are good for your heart.
Popular fishy breakfasts to try include kedgeree (made with smoked haddock and rice), kippers (try with wholegrain toast) and smoked salmon on a wholegrain bagel.
Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, are packed with nutrients and make a tasty addition to many healthy breakfasts – you can easily add them to porridge, cereal, yoghurt or a smoothie.
As well as counting as 1 of your 5 a day, they’re high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Plus, they’re lower in sugar and higher in fibre than many other fruits.
- eating a healthy breakfast will set you up for the day
- using a variety of foods will ensure you’re getting the right nutrients and stop you from getting bored
- try to include wholegrains, protein, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables in your breakfast