The experts over at our sister brand Men’s Fitness want you to put the English breakfast back on your menu and start your day by eating a protein-packed feast with these five key ingredients.
The Food: Eggs
The Benefit: High in vitamin D
Eggs are one of the few foods high in vitamin D, which you are probably deficient in over the winter. Poach or scramble to keep the calorie count down.
The Food: Bacon
The Benefit: High in protein
A couple of rashers of lean bacon provide a big hit of protein as well as essential trace elements including iron and zinc. Stick them under a grill rather than in a frying pan.
The Food: Mushroom
The Benefit: High in fibre
Mushrooms are a great way to add some low-calorie bulk to a breakfast because they’re very high in fibre. Lightly fry them in some coconut oil to take on some heart-healthy fats.
The Food: Tomato
The Benefit: High in lycopene
Tomatoes are high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant them gives them their red colour. Heating tomatoes activates more of this compound, so grill them.
The Food: Avocado
The Benefit: High in potassium
Potassium, one of your body’s key electrolytes, helps manage hydration levels so you can look and perform better. Add half a sliced avocado to your plate.
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Does the Healthy Fry Up Exist?
Does the full English really deserve its reputation as a nutritional disaster? Nutritionist Drew Price gets up early to tuck in and find out
“To eat well in England, you should have breakfast three times a day,” said the writer W Somerset Maugham in the late 19th century. And if it’s hearty food you’re after, there’s nothing quite like a full English in a greasy spoon. But even the biggest fry-up fan probably wouldn’t think a plateful of sausages, bacon and eggs is the healthiest way to start your day.
However, that unhealthy reputation stems from a number of nutritional perceptions that have been challenged in recent times, such as fears over eating too much saturated fat and processed meat, and links between egg intake and dangerous cholesterol levels. So perhaps it’s not entirely deserved.
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Firstly, there is increasing evidence that saturated fat intake shouldn’t be viewed as a cause of disease and obesity, with man-made trans fats far more damaging to long-term health. And while an egg does contain around 200mg of cholesterol, this doesn’t directly impact and raise blood-cholesterol levels. And there’s no need to ditch the yolk, occasionally hailed as a healthier option: it contains all of the egg’s omega 3 fatty acids, around half its muscle-building protein and over 90% of its vitamin and mineral content. If you want to keep your total calories down, scramble or – even better – poach your eggs, instead of frying.
Unfortunately, the latest research on sausages and bacon isn’t so positive. Last year the World Health Organisation reclassified them as Grade 1 – its top tier for dietary carcinogens – after reviewing more than 800 scientific studies. The problem isn’t with the pork but the production process, which involves pumping the meat full of nitrate-based salts to help improve shelf life. These cause nitrosamines to form which, combined with the harmful compounds produced during the frying process, interfere with your DNA function and increase the risk of certain cancers. And while there are “nitrate-free” bacon products available, producers usually just substitute artificial nitrates with naturally-occurring versions found in plants, which still cause the same problems.
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What’s worse is that a study by the journal Meat Science tested 40 sausage brands and found that the average meat content in a typical British banger barely scraped past 60%, with some containing as little as 33% meat. And to make matters worse, the higher-percentage brands often just packed their sausages out with animal fat rather than protein to enhance their percentages.
So what’s the solution? Opting for organic, dry-cured and unsmoked bacon means you’ll get meat that’s had far less processing, while nitrate-free chicken and beef sausage alternatives are also increasingly popular. And remember a fry-up is versatile: you can supplement your eggs and meat with nutrient-rich sides including grilled tomatoes – rich in cancer-fighting lycopene, with vitamin C content to counteract the damaging effects of nitrates – fibre-rich mushrooms and one of 2016’s trendiest “superfoods”, black pudding, which is packed with iron and potassium.
Upgrade your full English with these health-enhancing ingredients and avoid the worst nutritional offenders
- Lose hash browns: This American fried-potato invention is full of blood sugar-spiking carbs, which cause fat storage
- Choose bubble and squeak: Shallow-frying chopped up cabbage, carrots and potatoes is an easy way to increase the fibre content of your meal
- Lose tomato ketchup: Standard ketchup is a highly processed, sugar-laden mess that won’t do your waistline any favours
- Choose fresh salsa: It might not be very English, but salsa’s worth making an exception for, due to its high levels of lycopene and phytonutrients
- Lose fried bread: This calorie-dense grease-fest usually soaks up a whopping 15g of oil per slice
- Choose sourdough: An artisan bread that helps to improve gut health. It’s also full of air holes, so you usually end up consuming less overall