What is a Balanced Breakfast?

USDA recommends that a “balanced breakfast” should be one that is nutrient dense (that is high in nutrients and low in calories).1 A balanced breakfast can be a mix of carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. These can be found in many foods and one can pick different breakfast food groups namely cereals, fruit/vegetable and dairy. One serving from each of these good groups can provide a good start to the day.

  • Healthy Balanced Breakfast with Bowl of Kellogg's Corn Flakes in Milk

Some examples of ‘balanced breakfast’ are as follows:

  • A serving of Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereals made with whole grain; a glass of toned milk and sliced banana/apple/strawberries.
  • Whole grain bread sandwich with vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, beetroot and shredded carrots; apples/pear/guava slices and a glass of toned milk.
  • A serving of oats porridge with dates, raisins, apples and almonds.

USDA also specifies the nutrients that breakfast should provide.1

The USDA in its recommendations for breakfasts for the SBP (school breakfast program) for children from kindergarten to grade 12 states that the breakfast meal should conform to the following nutrient norms:

  • Should contain a minimum of one serve of fruit, one serve of grains (wholegrains) and one serve of milk that is fat free or low fat.
  • The minimum and maximum calorie levels have been laid down for each age/grade group, for example 400-550 kcal for 6-8 Grade.
  • Zero grams of trans fat.
  • Less than 10% of total calories from saturated fat.
  • Less than or equal to 540-640 mg of sodium depending on the age of the child.

Breakfast cereals fit the recommendation made by nutrition experts for healthy eating because they are:

  1. Mostly low in fat: Fitting well with health eating recommendations.
  2. Provide carbohydrate: Helps provide an energy boost for both body and brain.
  3. Often high in fibre: Helping to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and reducing the risk of various lifestyle disorders like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer etc2.
  4. Fortified with vitamins and minerals: Providing these key nutrients that are important for various body functions.
  5. Consumed with milk: Helping to ensure adequate intake of protein, calcium and other nutrients that milk provides.

1 USDA School Meals Patterns with Flexibilities for SY 2018/2019 (per Interim Final Rule 82 FR 65703, Nov.30,2017).

2 Williams PG. The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence Base. American Society for Nutrition. Adv. Nutri. 5:636S-673S, 2014.

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