The whole “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” saying is cliché for a reason: because it’s true. But those breakfast bars are just not going to cut it. Get the most out of your mornings with these healthiest foods for breakfast.
A festival of heart- and waist-friendly fiber, steel-cut oatmeal is a whole grain that everyone (gluten-intolerant or not) can benefit from adding into their daily diet, says Vandana R. Sheth, R.D.N., C.D.E., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. After all, in one 2015 Harvard University study of more than 100,000 people, those who ate at least 33 grams of whole grains daily—the equivalent of a single bowl of oatmeal—cut their risk of early death by 9 percent compared to those who rarely, if ever, ate whole grains.
How do you like your eggs? Scrambled? Poached? Sunny-side up? It doesn’t matter. They’re all great. Every egg provides about 6 grams of muscle-building, fat-quashing protein. (Did you know that eggs are the number-one bioavailable source of protein, meaning that your body can absorb and use protein from eggs more easily than it can protein from any other food.
Berries (of all kinds—blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries) are the perfect morning fruit, thanks to their low glycemic loads—meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels like that glass of OJ will. “A cup of berries contains only about 50 to 85 calories, but tons of anthocyanins, antioxidants that been shown to reduce inflammation and protect the heart, says White. For instance, in one Circulationstudy of 93,600 women, those who ate at least three servings of anthocyanin-rich blueberries and strawberries had a significantly lower risk of heart attack compared to those who ate less.
A muscle-building powerhouse, cottage cheese contains 25 grams of protein per cup. In a 2015 University of Missouri study, dieters who ate a high-protein breakfast (35 grams of protein) ended up being less hungry and eating fewer calories throughout the rest of the day compared to those who ate low-protein breakfasts. Opt for full-fat, grass-fed varieties to get the most conjugated linoleic acid per spoonful. White explains that the fatty acid has been linked to weight loss, muscle development, and even a decreased risk of colorectal cancer in women.
Greek yogurt is another protein-rich option that pairs perfectly with several other foods on this list: berries, nut butter, even eggs (your scrambled eggs just got so much creamier). It’s an obvious breakfast choice for its bone-protecting calcium and immunity-bolstering probiotics, explains Kimberly Gomer, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., nutrition director at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Florida. But it has a slew of other health benefits such as keeping your digestive system running smoothly, helping you feel full longer, and giving you a low-fat choice that doesn’t sacrifice other nutrients.