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Tea & Toast or Milk & Oats–which is the better brekky?

Posted on : 29-04-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Breakfast, Super-healthy...er...stuff


toast4brekky2There’s nothing better first thing on a cool morning than a nice hot cup of tea and some grainy toast with homemade grapefruit marmalade. Or is there?

The cup of tea gives me a small shot of caffeine and increases peripheral blood circulation – waking up my drowsy body. A brisk walk or jog does the same thing and it’s interesting that on the days I exercise before breakfast I don’t crave that cup of tea half so much.

On the down side, the tannin in tea binds up iron. So the small amount of iron in my wholegrain toast doesn’t get a chance when I swill it down with tea. As for the marmalade, I remember the first time I made it I could hardly bring myself to pour in all the sugar necessary! Sure grapefruit contains vitamin C and antioxidants – particularly a substance called quercetin which has anti-inflammatory effects, but there’s not much on your toast after it’s been boiled with a few bags of sugar!

So how about oats instead? A bowl of warm cooked oats (Kiwi’s call it porridge) has as much or more fibre than two slices of whole grain toast. And it has iron – which is better absorbed because I leave my cup of tea until morning tea time. And I get calcium from the low fat milk I add. And it’s cheaper. A loaf of my favourite grain bread costs around $4 which lasts 8 or 9 breakfasts. A 1.5 kg bag of rolled oats cost about the same but gives me twice as many breakfasts.

But the real nutritional bonus of my plate of porridge is the essential fats in the oats – and the wheat germ that I sprinkle on, along with brown sugar! Essential fats are fats that our body cannot make and we can only get through what we eat. Vegetable oil, fish, oats, nuts and seeds are the best foods for these essential fats. They fight inflammation in our body and are fantastic for healthy skin, hair and nails. I call them the beauty fats.

I was once the research dietitian for a study comparing a low fat diet with a high monounsaturated fat diet. The people on the study ate a low fat diet for 3 weeks, then swapped to a higher fat, but same kilojoule, diet by replacing some of their bread, pasta and rice (the carbohydrate foods) with 50 grams of raw peanuts each day. What was really interesting was the effect the three weeks of peanuts had on a few of the women. One reported that after years of having brittle nails, they had suddenly become strong. Another told me that her hairdresser had asked what she was eating as her hair had suddenly become so much healthier. These women had likely been on low fat diets for years as part of controlling their weight and heart health and, I am sure that those three weeks of peanuts gave their body what it had desperately lacked – some essential fats.

You know, the best thing about writing about healthy eating is that you convince yourself to do it. So even if no-one else is convinced, come tomorrow morning I’m ditching the toaster and pulling out the porridge pot. Let’s hope it lasts!

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