Eggs or Oatmeal?: What Nutritionists Suggest For the Best Breakfast
LAST WEEK, WE DEBUNKED three myths surrounding breakfast. And while we concluded that you shouldn't skip breakfast if you're hungry, what should you eat for the first meal of the day? Should you grab a packet of bee hoon on your way to work? Or should you sit down for a bowl of cereal? We take a look at what some nutritionists have to say about what you should eat for the best breakfast.
So, what should you be eating for breakfast?
Rich in antioxidants, blueberries help improve everything from memory and motor skills to blood pressure and metabolism. Blueberries are also lower in calories than many other fruits (they contain about 80 calories per cup). Best of all, they're easy to eat with oatmeal or just by popping them in your mouth.
While this grab-and-go option has been critiqued for being starchy, bananas are actually a good source of resistant starch. They are a healthy carbohydrate that keeps you feeling full longer. Rich in fibre, vitamin C and potassium, eating a banana will keep your nervous system firing and your blood pressure low. Bananas also contain Tryptophan, which is crucial to making the happy hormone, serotonin.
Like others from the citrus family, grapefruits are a great source of vitamin C and potassium. They also pack a good deal of fibre to keep you full for longer. A study found that eating half a grapefruit as your "appetizer" before a meal can speed up weight loss and improve insulin resistance.
Loaded with dietary fibre, oatmeal also contains beta-glucan, a type of fibre which lowers cholesterol when eating regularly. Although any kind of oatmeal is good, steel-cut oats, which take about 15 minutes to cook, contain more fibre than rolled oats or instant varieties. Just avoid the flavoured kinds, which are packed with sugar. Top your oatmeal with a nut butter and banana for an ideal blend of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Once shunned for being high in dietary cholesterol, eggs are now making a comeback as a healthy source of protein and nutrients. The change comes from research which shows that the cholesterol in our food has less of an impact on our blood cholesterol than previously reported. Egg whites are a complete protein, while the yolks contain good fats, B vitamins and choline for brain health and memory.
Apart from stimulating your mind and body, a cup of coffee contains high levels of antioxidants and essential nutrients (B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and manganese). Drinking coffee has also been linked to a lower risk of disease like diabetes and prostate cancer.
Instead of erasing all the potential benefits by loading your coffee with sugar, some nutritionists suggest adding fats to their morning cuppa. Adding cream, grass-fed butter or coconut oil to coffee is becoming increasingly popular. Dubbed "Bulletproof coffee", it contains more energy in the form of calories and can help reduce hunger pangs.
Compared to coffee, tea contains less caffeine and hydrates you more effectively. It also contains anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties from flavonoid antioxidants. Studies also show that drinking tea regularly, green tea in particular, can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Tea also contains a compound called l-theanine, which activates areas of your brain that help you focus.
Whole grain bread
When choosing breakfast carbs, keep in mind that whole grain bread contains more fibre than their white, refined counterparts. This fibre digests slowly, which helps you feel full for longer. The fibre content in whole grains also help keep bowel movements regular and aid good digestion. Scientists also find that eating whole grain bread can help you cut down fat and lead to a healthier distribution of that fat in your body.
Some surprises about "healthy" breakfast food:
Despite being synonymous with breakfast, research reveals that cereals might not be the best choice. Loaded with carbohydrates, lacking in fiber and devoid of protein, cereals are one of the most processed foods. Moreover, eating cereal for breakfast has been shown to increase insulin levels and leave you with cravings mid-morning. Many might be shocked to discover that "healthy" breakfast cereals are laden with extra sugar and unnecessary calories. Adding insult to injury, most cereals are made from genetically modified crops that have been treated with pesticides and contain preservatives.
According to clinical dietitian from Gleneagles Hospital, Rehana A. Wahib, pick the right cereal using the "5-5 rule". This means a cereal with more than 5g of fiber and less than 5g of sugar per serving size. Though this rule is not set in stone, using it as a rough guide when you pick your cereals. It will definitely narrow your options.
You may be surprised to see yoghurt here - it is known to be packed with active cultures and probiotics that restore gut health and boost the immune system. Moreover, the dairy aisles are packed with an array of fruit-on-the-bottom yoghurts, many claiming zero grams of fat. But turn over and you'll see that a single serving can contain as many as 25 grams of sugar - as much as a candy bar.
A suggested alternative is Greek yoghurt. It has double the protein, half the carbs and half the sodium of regular yoghurt. Keep in mind though that flavoured Greek yoghurt will have added sugar and fruit, which will increase the carbohydrate count significantly. The key when eating yoghurt - Greek or regular - is to avoid flavoured varieties. This ensures less added sugar and also allows you to boost your breakfast with your own choice of nuts and fresh fruit.
What are you having for breakfast?
If you've read this far and you're feeling guilty about your breakfast choices, don't worry. It's as good a time as any to adjust your diet! Try combinations of foods mentioned above, like half-boiled eggs on whole grain toast or oatmeal with fresh fruit. These will surely keep you full for longer and give you energy to kickstart your day. Stay tuned for more ideas in our next blog post.