Breakfast is widely described as the most important meal of the day – an energy kick for the stressful or busy day ahead. But it could also be putting you at risk of high blood pressure even before you set foot in the office!
We’re pretty well versed these days on the need to look out for sugar and saturated fats in our breakfast choices, but not much thought is often given to salt content. Like sugar and fats, salt is hidden in a lot of the processed food we eat and can have dangerous impacts on our health – especially our blood pressure.
Popular breakfast foods are a surprising (but obvious when you think about it) culprit for salt. Savoury or sweet it doesn’t matter. Muffins, croissants and pastries may hit that sweet spot perfectly when settling in for your morning coffee, but they are giving you a good dose of your daily salt intake too. And you can’t even taste it. A fruit muffin alone has nearly a quarter of your recommended maximum daily intake (MDI).
And then there’s the ever-popular cooked breakfast. One rasher of bacon has 535mg of sodium (salt) – that’s a quarter of an adult’s MDI. And, that’s just the beginning. One sausage has up to 500mg (quarter MDI), a serve of baked beans up to 800mg (more than a third of MDI), two slices of white toast with butter up to 400mg (one fifth of MDI)!
But before you put down your knife and fork and start thinking about skipping breakfast, consider all of the other yummy and nutritious breaky options available. You only have to go to your local café to see that we’re starting to think more creatively about our first and most important meal of the day. Field mushrooms, smashed avocado, fresh kale, inventive grain porridges, seasonal fruit, pot-set yoghurts, eggs every way imaginable. And, when you think about it, it’s not that hard to replicate at home.
Even some of our simpler pantry breakfasts – like muesli, porridge, whole grain breads – are fabulously nutritious options. You just have to be little mindful of cereals though. They have undergone reformulation in the last couple of years, so they are much lower in salt then they used to be. Just make sure you stick to the recommended serve – usually about 2/3 cup and check the label.
A good breakfast really sets you up for the day ahead and this couldn’t be truer for our little people. Eating breakfast may also also help with our kids’ performance and concentration at school. When choosing breakfast for your kids, salt is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but even one piece of vegemite toast can be high in sodium. Kids should have even less salt than adults, so it’s even more important to check labels and think about the spreads on their toast or the sodium (salt) in their cereal. Going low-salt now is essential in setting them up with healthy habits and palettes for the future. Fresh food is key!
It’s well known however, that Aussies love a good cooked breakfast, and we’re not suggesting we forgo any weekend rituals here. Just maybe keeping the sausage or bacon for an occasional Sunday morning cook-up and having one or the other – not both. Add some fresh fruit and veggies to the plate and you’ve got yourself an even yummier and healthier brunch or breakfast!