Last week we learned about cereal, now let’s get to know some other breakfast foods. More than 80% of us eat breakfast at home. If you’re like me, you eat it in pjs with a cup of hot coffee in hand. There’s no end to the possible breakfast options, so we’ll take a look at some of the more popular items we choose at home.
Eggs are king of the traditional American breakfast. Simple to cook in a variety of ways in only a few minutes, an egg is packed with protein and low in carbohydrates. One egg has 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrate, and 65 mg of sodium. The high protein and low carb content make eggs an ideal choice for diabetics.
Unlike most foods, eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids that cannot be made by your body plus iron, vitamins A,D,E, & B12, folate, selenium, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline. Eggs also provide the primary source of cholesterol in the American diet. One egg has 195 mg.
Because blood cholesterol has been of concern in heart disease, for many years Dietary Guidelines recommended limiting consumption of cholesterol thereby giving eggs a bad rap. This changed in 2015. The Guideline regarding cholesterol was removed because it is now recognized that dietary cholesterol plays no role in blood cholesterol.
With that concern removed, it’s hard to find a better food to get you going in the morning.*
Ever drink a glass of orange juice with your eggs?
Apparently a lot of us do. About two billion dollars worth of orange juice are purchased in the US each year. The largest selling brand is Tropicana Pure Premium.
An 8 oz glass of Tropicana Pure Premium No Pulp Orange Juice has 110 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0 fat, 0 sodium, 450 mg of potassium, 22 grams of naturally occurring sugars and a total of 26 grams of carbs. A glass of this juice also provides 120%** of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 2% of the daily value for calcium, 10% for thiamine, 4% for riboflavin & niacin, 6% vitamin B6, 15% folate, and 6% magnesium.
How does that compare with an orange?
One large orange has about 86 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0 fat, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugars and 22 total grams of carbs. It also has 163% of the RDA of vitamin C plus naturally occurring calcium (7% RDA), vitamin A (8%), and iron (1%).
Looks like an orange has less calories, more fiber, more calcium, more vitamin A, more iron and 43% more vitamin C, but lacks the added thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and magnesium.
If you are choosing orange juice for vitamin C, you’ll get significantly more from eating an orange plus the benefit of 4 grams of dietary fiber and 5% more calcium.
Before choosing store bought orange juice, you should also be aware that in spite of the “not from concentrate” verbiage on the label, this type of orange juice is processed by having the oxygen removed so it can be stored in vats for up to a year. This process removes the flavor. A flavor pack is then added so that when it’s bottled it will taste like orange juice. Because the flavor pack is made from orange by-products, it is not considered an ingredient, and therefore isn’t required to appear on the label despite the fact that the by-products are chemically altered. 1)
What about yogurt for breakfast?
Up until two years ago, Greek yogurt sales were skyrocketing. While the growth has now slowed to a moderate level, you can’t pass a dairy cabinet without seeing a wide array of single serving yogurt options. Many of those convenient cups are occupying our breakfast tables, but not all single serving yogurt is created equal.
The top selling brand of yogurt is Chobani, so let’s start there.
Non-fat Greek Yogurt
Chobani 5.3 oz non-fat Greek yogurt contains 80 calories, 15 grams of protein, 0 fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium, 4 grams of sugars and a total of 6 carbs, 15% of the RDA of calcium, and 6% of potassium. This yogurt is also full of probiotic live and active cultures that help your digestive tract.
That’s twice as much protein as an egg for only 10 additional calories. Plain Greek yogurt is also low in carbohydrates and has a significant amount of calcium making it another good choice for diabetics.
Plain yogurt? Yuck! What about flavored yogurt?
One 5.3 oz container of Chobani Greek Yogurt with Blackberry on the Bottom contains 120 calories, 12 grams of protein, 0 fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 50 mg of sodium, 16 grams of sugars and a total of 18 carbs, 15% of the RDA of calcium, and 6% of potassium. Like plain yogurt, this version is also full of probiotic live and active cultures that help your digestive tract.
While blackberries may account for some of the sugar listed on the label, evaporated cane sugar is the 2nd ingredient, meaning that many of the 16 grams of sugar come from added sugars. The sugar adds most of the 40 additional calories. Although the protein content is still high at 12 grams and the probiotics are present, added sugar makes this yogurt less healthy in general than plain yogurt and doubly bad for diabetics and those with heart disease.
I understand why flavored yogurt is tempting. Yogurt can be a bit tangy on its own. I eat 1/3 – 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt for breakfast most mornings. Rather than adding sugar, sweetener or honey, I top it with about a tbsp of golden raisins and 10 raw almonds. As a breakfast, this is crunchy, filling, and just sweet enough. The nuts and raisins both add protein, the nuts add fiber, and the raisins add carbs. This combination is also quick and doesn’t require cooking.
While I find Greek yogurt convenient, many people prefer the portability of breakfast bars. The top selling nutrition/health bar is Clif.
Clif Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Bar
In one Clif Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Bar you’ll find 250 calories, 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, 150 mg sodium, 7% RDA of potassium, 5 grams of dietary fiber & 4 grams of insoluble fiber, 20 grams of sugars and 44 grams of total carbohydrates. It is also fortified with vitamins & minerals.
Although this bar offers a good amount of protein and fiber, the calorie count is high and the total amount of carbohydrates is very high. These bars are not an option for those who are gluten-free, and they cannot be characterized as a good choice for those who are diabetic or at risk for heart disease.
Of course there are other breakfast bars with varying amounts of protein, fat, and sugar so you may find one that fits your eating plan. You won’t find one that beats eggs or plain Greek yogurt in nutrition per calorie.
Of all the foods we’ve learned about so far, eggs and non-fat plain Greek yogurt offer the best high protein, low fat, low carb breakfast choice.
Next up, we’ll look at some popular on-the-go breakfast sandwiches and then we’ll be ready to move on to lunch and dinner.
Should we explore coffee? Probably, but right now I’d rather just have another cup. Until next week…
*Eggs are one of the 7 top allergens. Approximately 2% of children are allergic to eggs, but 70% outgrow the allergy by the time they’re 16. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies/types-food-allergy/egg-allergy If you have an egg allergy, please avoid eating eggs and products containing them.
**Percent of daily values listed are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your DV may be higher or lower based on your calorie needs.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”