Not a diet option for breakfast. Obviously. Picture: Justin Sanson / AAP
Not a diet option for breakfast. Obviously. Picture: Justin Sanson / AAP

‘Healthy’ breakfasts you need to avoid

WHAT did you have for breakfast this morning? A quick bowl of cereal? Some healthy yoghurt? Or did you pick up a smoothie or muffin on the way to work? Whatever your choice, often we associate popular breakfast choices with relatively healthy foods - yoghurt, fruit, smoothies and juices. What may surprise you is that some of the options that are paraded as the healthiest choices may actually be packed with tons of sugar. Here are some of the worst offenders.

Smoothies

While any jumbo sized serve of bright green liquid certainly looks healthy, when you consider that the average smoothie is not only relatively large (600ml or more) it contains a large number of ingredients.

These often include milk, yoghurt, fruit, coconut water, nuts, seeds, honey, avocado and /or protein powders. A lot of those ingredients contain sugars.

Because of this a large smoothie can contain an extraordinary amount of sugar - up to 60g or 12 teaspoons of it. That's more than a can of Coke (don't take that as a recommendation to drink a can of Coke for breakfast - it still has 11 teaspoons of sugar and absolutely no nutritional value!)

Smoothies can be a healthy option if they are small, and made of only a few ingredients.
Smoothies can be a healthy option if they are small, and made of only a few ingredients. Mike Knott

Now a smoothie can be a healthy option, but the key is to keep the size smaller (just 400ml at most) and stick to just 3-4 ingredients at most.

In general a mix of milk, a protein via Greek yoghurt or protein powder, a fruit and a vegetable creates the perfect calorie controlled blend with 20-30g of sugars per serve coming via the fruit and dairy.

Acai Bowl

It is the brightly coloured mix of acai puree, crunchy granola and fresh fruit, nuts and seeds that make an acai bowl look so healthy but it could be renamed a 'sugar' bowl with the levels of sweet ingredients.

The average acai bowl found at cafes containing up to 50g or 10 teaspoons of sugars. It is the mix of apple juice, fruit, sweet granola and acai puree that creates such a high sugar breakfast option which is really more like a dessert nutritionally.

It’s very instagrammable, sure. But don’t fool yourself. Your acai bowl is full of sugar. Picture: Jenifer Jagielski
It’s very instagrammable, sure. But don’t fool yourself. Your acai bowl is full of sugar. Picture: Jenifer Jagielski

Muffins

If you made your own muffins at home and used wholemeal flour, fresh fruit in place of sugar and included some nuts and wholegrains a muffin would be a relatively good breakfast option but the average jumbo sized muffin typically found at cafes are more likely to contain 30-40g or 6-8 teaspoons of sugar.

Whenever a baked good tastes particularly sweet, it would suggest that the recipe contains at least 1 cup of added sugar, and when extra chocolate chips, fruits and honey are added, the amount of total sugar in a single muffin can be higher than a chocolate bar.

Banana Bread

Don't be misled - there is nothing healthy about your favourite banana bread you find at the local café and the truth be known it should be called banana cake.

With 20-30g or 5-6 teaspoons of sugar in a single slice, if you enjoy your banana bread with your favourite milk based coffee you breakfast will contain at least 50g or 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than we should be consuming in an entire day.

Don’t fool yourself. This isn’t a breakfast food. It’s cake.
Don’t fool yourself. This isn’t a breakfast food. It’s cake.

Yoghurt & Granola

The yoghurt and fresh fruit positioned at the front of fresh juice bars looks fresh, delicious and extremely healthy and while a plain natural or Greek yoghurt is relatively low in sugar, most fruit yoghurts are full of added sugar.

In fact a single serve of fruit yoghurt will give you up to 6 teaspoons of sugar. If you add extra fresh fruit and sweet granola you will have another breakfast that contains 40-50g or 8-10 teaspoons of sugar. So if fruit and yoghurt is your thing stick to plain yoghurt and fresh fruit minus the tasty drizzle of sugary fruit syrup.

Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter @SusieBDiet



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