How to Have a Healthier Breakfast
Updated: Mar 16
By: Chloe Cho, Contributing Writer
There’s the saying that you are what you eat. Now, more than ever, society is shifting its focus towards a healthier diet. However, breakfast is still primarily neglected compared to other meals despite being the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast or eating an unhealthy one can affect many good health aspects, such as keeping full throughout the day. But many people are unaware of what makes an unhealthy breakfast different from a healthy, nutritious one. Here is a list of popular breakfast foods that you should scale back on to have optimum health and alternatives.
It’s already well known that sausages aren’t the healthiest breakfast foods to go around. But many people are unsure why exactly that is and continue eating them in ignorance of what goes in them.
Not only are sausages processed, but they’re also made of the trimmings of premium cuts, meaning that there are fewer nutrients in them. Some cheaper sausages also use “sausage meal,” which is essentially filler made of water and flour. This provides almost no protein. Additionally, sausages usually contain preservatives like extra salt. Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and heart failure.
Healthline writes a report on Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs), saying, "Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are harmful compounds that are formed when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. This process is called glycation. AGEs can also form in foods. Foods that have been exposed to high temperatures, such as during grilling, frying, or toasting, tend to be very high in these compounds." Excessive intake of AGEs can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Additionally, processed meats contain more nitrates, a preservative, which can lead to issues with blood oxygenation.
For sausage lovers, limiting consumption of sausages and buying poultry-based sausages like turkey can lower the health risk of regular red-meat sausages.
According to the Statista Research Center, cold cereal is one of the most common breakfast foods in American households. Yet it is important to distinguish which cereals should be eaten sparingly. Sugary cereals can cause a blood sugar spike and cause sugar crashes by the afternoon. It is also essential to eat cereal that is high in fiber and protein. Too little of either can cause an unbalance tilting towards carbohydrates, which ultimately leads to weight gain.
However, there are many kinds of cereal that are nutritious. Try to consume whole-grain cereals low in sugar, especially those containing other nutrients, like calcium or iron. Whole grains contain many important nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants. According to MayoClinic, consuming too much added sugar can "can increase triglyceride levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease." Consider adding seeds, nut butters, yogurt, or kefir to your cereal for a more nutritious bite.
Juices lack the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables, which lowers their health benefits. Additionally, store-bought juices often contain preservatives or added sugar to increase its shelf life and flavor.
Instead of juices, blending fruits and vegetables into a smoothie can provide a delicious alternative that includes its full benefits, but watch out for store-bought smoothies! They’re often packed with extra sugar that can lead to a crash later in the afternoon. Adding protein sources to a home-made smoothie can help attenuate a glycemic response.
A common dairy product at breakfast tables, yogurt has many pros and cons, some with fewer cons than others. Yogurt can contain many nutrients like calcium, protein, vitamins, and probiotics. However, many yogurts have an excessive amount of sugar or other additives. For example, flavored yogurt has about 11 to 13 grams of sugar per 100-gram serving. Like the juices, this can lead to a sugar crash in the afternoon. Regularly eating high-sugar yogurt can lead to health problems.
The perks of yogurt are that there are many types, and if you eat the right type, it can boost your health. Plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt with more grams of protein than sugar is the best option. However, if it is too bland, adding a few natural fruits and blending them with the yogurt is a healthier way to manage sugar levels.
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, oil, preservatives, and artificial flavors are only some of the downsides of granola bars. They increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and can cause gut problems.
The best alternative to this is to make your own granola bars. Using whole grains, unsalted nuts, nut butter, and dark chocolate chips can help produce a healthy, low-sugar, and preservative-free granola bar.