Build a better breakfast

Consumer Reports' cereal Ratings, and advice from our food experts, can help you start the day right

Published: August 05, 2013 03:00 PM

A good breakfast really may be the key to good health. Recent research has linked it to a everything from a reduced risk of heart disease in men, to better school performance in kids. Yet more and more of us regularly skip the morning meal, claiming that hectic schedules leave no time to eat, or that we're not hungry when we wake up. Here's our advice on how to work breakfast into your morning routine, and what to eat to make sure you start the day with a belly full of good nutrition.

Pick the right cereal. Cereal and oatmeal are a convenient way to get fiber into your diet. Fiber can help control appetite and weight and might help lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. We recently tested fiber cereals and found that Kellogg's All-Bran Original, Post Grape-Nuts The Original, Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size, and Post Shredded Wheat Wheat 'n Bran Spoon Size were rated very tasty and very nutritious. If cereal doesn't do it for you, whole-grain breads or frozen waffles are an option that can be easily dropped in a toaster. Joe's Multigrain waffles and Kashi 7 Grain waffles are healthy choices that did well in our test kitchen.

Load up on protein. Adolescent girls who ate high-protein breakfasts remained fuller longer and were less likely to snack on high-fat foods than those who had normal-protein breakfasts, according to research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Try eggs, low-fat cheeses, nut butters, or meats such as sliced turkey and bacon

Read more about our high fiber cereal and Greek yogurt Ratings.

Combine food groups for the healthiest start. Pair your protein and whole grains with fruits or vegetables. To your cereal, add milk and a banana or yogurt and fruit to make a parfait. Toss some berries and ricotta cheese on top of your waffles. Spread peanut butter on whole-grain toast and top with strawberries, bananas, or apples. While fruits are a natural for breakfast, incorporating vegetables may seem a little trickier. But veggies can be easily tossed into an egg scramble or an omelet, or blended sneakily into a smoothie. For instance, try tossing some spinach, along with some nut butter for protein, into your fruit smoothie. And for those who don't particularly enjoy breakfast foods, veggie wraps, wholegrain breads with veggies and turkey, or leftover vegetable pizza, make nutritious breakfasts, despite their departure from the breakfast norm.

Have on-the-go options. Although making yourself a healthy, balanced breakfast in the morning is the best start to your day, sometimes time is against you. Snack bars are a quick fix when you're short on time. Make your own the night before if you're feeling adventurous, or just keep some store-bought bars on hand. In our tests, the Clif Crunch Granola Chocolate Chip bar was a top performer in taste and nutrition. Yogurt is another option that can be tossed into your bag while running out the door. Greek yogurt is high in protein and comes in on top for flavor in our yogurt tests. Fage Total 2%, Chobani Low-Fat, and the more recently tested Dannon Oikos Traditional Raspberry are all worth trying. If you plan on grabbing something hot on the road, look out for a Subway – their Egg White and Cheese on Mornin' Flatbread was rated very good for taste and nutrition in our tests of fast-food egg sandwiches.

For more easy and healthy suggestions, check out the Power up with Breakfast tip sheet (and other great tip sheets) from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

—Ciara Rafferty

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