If you skimp on breakfast, you'll miss out on important health benefits. Learn what makes a breakfast nutritious, and get some out-of-the-box options.
It might be the last thing on your morning to-do list, or worse, it might not be on your list at all. But a healthy breakfast refuels your body, jump-starts your day and may even benefit your overall health. So don't skip this meal — it may be more important than you think.
Even if you're short on time, quick-and-flexible options you can grab at home give you plenty of healthy ways to put breakfast back on your daily menu.
Breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal. It also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits.
Benefits for adults
When you eat a healthy breakfast, you're more likely to:
Benefits for children
Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to:
Even though you know a healthy breakfast has many benefits, you may not be sure what exactly counts as a healthy breakfast.
Here's what forms the core of a healthy breakfast:
Together, these core groups provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat — a combination that packs big health benefits and that also can leave you feeling full for hours. Find options from these core groups that suit your tastes and interests. And try to choose one or two options from each category to round out a healthy breakfast.
Cereal may frequently be your go-to item for breakfast, whether you grab a handful to eat dry while on the run, or you have time to sit down with a bowl with milk and fruit. But not all cereals are created equal. Read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list before you buy cereal. And remember that not all cereals have the same serving size. A serving of one cereal might be 1/2 cup, while another may be 1 cup.
The key items to look for when choosing cereal are:
|Examples of good options for dry breakfast cereals|
|Cereal and serving size||Fiber in grams||Sugar in grams||Calories|
|General Mills Cheerios, 1 cup||3||1||103|
|General Mills Fiber One, 1/2 cup||14||0||60|
|Kashi Go Lean, 1 cup||10||6||148|
|Kellogg's All-Bran Bran Buds, 1/3 cup||13||8||75|
|Kellogg's All-Bran Original, 1/2 cup||9||5||81|
|Post Raisin Bran, 1 cup||7||17||187|
|Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size, 1 cup||6||0.5||167|
|Quaker Life Cereal, plain, 3/4 cup||2||6||119|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23
Remember to top off your bowl of cereal with some sliced fruit and low-fat or skim milk. Or if you're on the go, take along a piece of fruit, a container of milk or some yogurt.
A word about cereal bars
Cereal bars also may be a good breakfast option. Just be sure to look for those that meet the same guidelines as dry cereal. Also, don't forget some fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt to round things out. Even fruit or yogurt cereal bars won't satisfy all your nutrition requirements for breakfast.
You have plenty of ways to get in a healthy breakfast each day, and it doesn't always have to be a traditional breakfast menu.
Here are some specific examples of healthy breakfast options:
If you skip breakfast because you're short on time each morning, plan ahead. Some tips to fit in breakfast on a tight schedule:
If you skip breakfast because you want to save calories, reconsider that plan. Chances are you'll be ravenous by lunchtime. That may lead you to overeat or choose fast but unhealthy options — perhaps doughnuts or cookies a co-worker brings to the office. Your morning meal doesn't have to mean loading up on sugar and fats, and it doesn't have to be time-consuming to be healthy. Keep the breakfast basics in mind and set yourself up for healthier eating all day long.