You know why breakfast is important: your body needs nutrients and energy after lying dormant for 6+ hours of sleep. The body’s metabolism has to be reignited, returning to maximum operating efficiency to get you through the day.
Those that smartly opt for breakfast rather than skip may eat something, though it’s not typically the best foods to start the day. Our breakfasts are headlined by sugar-soaked cereals, sweet juices, or some heart-stopping combo of bacon-eggs-and-cheese. This limits the amount of energy you’re in taking, while maximizing cholesterol and salt saturation.
Different countries have seemed to grasp this breakfast concept better than us North Americans have. The blueprints for their breakfasts are traditionally healthier, actually taking advantage of the opportunity to load up on nutrients (and deliciousness).
These international breakfasts should inspire you to get a healthier start to your day. While they’re not 100% optimal and a picture of health, they sure beat the standard breakfasts we’re accustomed to seeing today.
Let’s start at the opposite end of the planet, who’s breakfast is a complete flip-flop from the traditional Western spread. Danishes and muffins are swapped for ingredients that are more likely to find a spot on our dinner tables: steamed rice, tofu, pickled vegetables, fermented soy beans, dried seaweed, and of course, the obligatory fish. Eggs make an appearance in Japanese breakfasts too, usually in the form of a tamagoyaki omelet.
These breakfasts are defined by their extremely low sugar content, and plentiful in manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and vitamin A. Antioxidants can be had as well, if you add green teas to accompany your meal.
What, you’ve never heard of Icelandic cuisine before?
We don’t blame you. But Icelanders have mastered the healthy breakfast, starting with its signature hafragrautur dish. The oatmeal porridge is cooked in water or milk, then coated in brown sugar, raisins, and melon seeds.
It’s a tasty and uber-nutritious start to your day that’s jacked with dietary fiber, manganese, and selenium while keeping sodium and cholesterol to a minimum.
To make hafragrautur the pinnacle of healthy breakfast, Icelanders throw down a shot of omega 3-rich cod liver oil and some spoonfuls of protein-packed skyr (Iceland’s answer to Greek yogurt).
Black beans run the breakfast brigade here. They carry nutrients like LeBron James carries the Cavaliers, a list that includes iron, zinc, potassium, thiamin, and folate.
The beans are mixed with rice, spiced with cumin, pepper, and garlic. Known as Gallo Pinto, a side of eggs and vitamin-rich tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, and papaya aren’t uncommon plate companions.
These model breakfasts undoubtedly play a part in Costa Rica’s “Blue Zone” designation, bestowed on countries with long-living populations.
Sausage and bacon enthusiasts won’t be a fan of this morning meal. India has a widespread acceptance of vegetarianism, meaning their breakfast is greener (and healthier).
Upma is a very popular dish in the southern regions. It’s a thick blend of dry roasted semolina that’s succulent and savory, infused with nutrient-filled ingredients cumin, green chilies, cilantro, and turmeric. Turmeric is a particularly powerful component, with robust anti-inflammatory properties.
Ready for a (breakfast) blast from the past?
Egypt’s customary breakfast (also its national dish), Fūl Medames, dates back to the time of the pharaohs. The meal is centered around fava beans, stewed overnight and completed with a host of fixings – cumin, chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice and chili pepper. Chopped boiled eggs are an optional compliment to top off the extra flavourful feast.
Not only are your taste buds a winner, but your body as well. Fūl Medames is characterized by very low saturated fat content, zero cholesterol, while providing heaps of fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.