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Fact File - Breakfast

Skipping breakfast usually happens through habit or being short of time. In the UK over one in five adults skip breakfast despite the number of known benefits. This fact file discusses the benefits of breakfast and provides ideas on healthy breakfast choices.




Benefits Of Breakfast

Breakfast is one of the eight tips for eating well by the Food Standards Agency. Below are some of the many ways in which you can benefit from breakfast:

  • Breakfast can help kick-start your metabolism providing you with both mental and physical energy in the morning.
  • Eating breakfast is associated with reducing the risk of becoming obese, especially if whole grains are consumed as part of breakfast.
  • People who eat breakfast are more likely to have a healthier diet and exercise regularly.


A Healthy Breakfast

It is important to aim for healthy choices at breakfast as this daily routine can contribute to the overall intake of essential nutrients in your diet, for example whole grains or a high fibre breakfast will benefit you more than sugar-coated cereals. Fortified breakfast cereals can contribute typically around 20% of the recommended daily allowance for B vitamins and iron. Calcium from milk or enriched alternatives can also make a valuable contribution, an essential mineral for bone health. Whole grain cereals can provide between one to three servings of whole grains, often this being the main source of whole grains in the diet. It is well documented that whole grains have a number of health benefits, not only for gut health by being rich in fibre, but can help reduce the urge for snacking, contribute to heart health and controlling blood sugar levels.


Breakfast Choices

Many people choose not to have breakfast because of being in a hurry. Breakfast does not have to be complicated and with a little thought and time you can make a healthy breakfast even when you are short of time.

Choose a breakfast based on a combination of the four main food groups, you do not need to include all the main groups, but aim for at least two and vary these slightly during the week. Porridge makes an excellent wholegrain breakfast and this no-cook refrigerated porridge can be made overnight. Click here to view recipe for no-cook refrigerated porridge. 



The Four Main Groups

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Fruit and vegetables are a vital  and rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre all needed for health.
  • Include different types and colours of fruit and vegetables as different ones will provide a diverse source of nutrients.
  • Breakfast is an excellent way to get one or more of your 5-A-DAY.
  • One portion is around 80g. In practical terms this is the equivalent of a medium sized fruit, such as an apple, a ‘cereal’ bowl of salad or 3 tablespoons of vegetables.
  • Unsweetened 100% juice and smoothies, depending on how much edible pulp is contained can count as up to two portions (no matter how much you have), but limit these as the process releases the natural sugars.


Starchy Foods

  • A rich source of carbohydrate needed for energy.
  • Choose whole grain varieties for your breakfast as not only are whole grain varieties higher in minerals and vitamins but are also a richer source of fibre than refined versions which is important for gut health as well as making you feel fuller for longer.


Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses (beans, chickpeas and lentils)

  • Rich source of protein which is essential for growth and repair. Also good source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc and B vitamins.
  • These foods can be an ideal part of your breakfast as they help you fill up for longer.


Milk and dairy foods (yoghurt, cheese and dairy alternatives)

  • This group is a good source of protein and calcium which plays an important role in bone health.
  • These foods are versatile and are easy to incorporate as a breakfast item with the other food groups.
  • Choose plain low-fat varieties and aim to include a couple of portions of calcium rich foods a day to help meet your calcium requirement. If you choose dairy alternatives, check that they are enriched with calcium.


Breakfast Ideas

Whether you are limited for time or not, below are some quick and easy healthy breakfast ideas based on the four main food groups:

  1. Porridge is a great way to start the day, it is high in fibre and a whole grain which means it can make you feel fuller for longer. Why not chop some fresh fruit on top to get one of your 5-A-DAY.
  2. A slice or two of rye bread with sliced lean meat topped with chopped cucumber or a tomato. Rye, like porridge  is also a whole grain. Well cooked eggs are a rich source of protein which can also make you feel fuller for longer.
  3. Plain yoghurt or an enriched alternative with chopped fruit sprinkled with seeds or crushed nuts. This can provide an excellent source of calcium and one or more of your 5-A-DAY. Seeds and nuts provide an extra crunch and flavour to your meal.
  4. No added sugar muesli (perhaps make your own) with plain yoghurt or milk and berries.
  5. Grilled tomato, mushroom and well cooked scrambled or poached egg on whole grain bread is a great warm, cooked breakfast which includes three of your four main food groups and can keep you going until lunchtime.


View all 41 of our breakfast recipes here.

This factsheet is intended for adults as a general guide only and not a substitute for professional advice or a diagnosis. If you are on certain medication or suffer from a medical condition, seek individual advice from your health care professional. Date produced October 2015. Date edited April 2016.


Would you like to find out more about our Power Up & Motivate With Positive Nutrition Workplace Wellbeing Initiatives? If so call Anna on 07778 218009 or email to arrange an informal chat.

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