Monitoring and tracking your blood glucose levels can feel challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the best ways to avoid blood sugar spikes is to tweak your diet and lifestyle, and a healthy breakfast is a significant part of that.
Properly breaking your fast is vital for many reasons, including to help control your blood glucose levels. Making sure you start your day with good blood sugar levels allows you to go from strength to strength and reach your health goals easily throughout the day. And a healthy breakfast is a great place to start.
Why is this so important? Every time you eat a meal or a snack, your body breaks down the food, and sugars and other nutrients enter your bloodstream. After a meal, your blood glucose levels generally record a spike. It's more concerning for people with diabetes, whose bodies find it more challenging to deal with high blood glucose. But controlling blood sugar spikes is a good idea for everyone, so it’s essential to keep track regardless.
The good news is that some foods can help control blood sugar levels, especially at the beginning of your day. Are you stumped for healthy breakfast ideas? We’re here to help out!
Here are some of the best breakfast foods to control or even lower blood sugar levels and a few recipes to help you get started.
It’s not surprising to see eggs on this list. Eggs are a good source of protein, which should be part of every healthy meal, including breakfast.
You may have heard that increasing the proportion of protein in your diet can help blood glucose control. And research backs it up. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating more protein is associated with an improved blood glucose response in those who have type 2 diabetes.
A 2018 study published in Food & Function found that regular egg consumption improved fasting blood glucose in those with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The study concludes that eating one large egg a day may reduce the risk of diabetes while not adversely affecting the lipid profiles of those with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Of course, remember that eggs may not suit some people as well as others, and it’s best not to overindulge. A study appearing in the journal Diabetes Care (with a follow-up of up to 20 years) suggests that eating more than one egg a day could increase some people's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you can tolerate eggs, add one to your healthy breakfast for a good dose of protein with one of our favorite egg recipes.
Avocado Egg Toast Breakfast Recipe to Try
Eggs are substantial enough to keep you feeling full for hours. They go with various breakfast foods—toast comes to mind immediately. We love this low-calorie recipe for Avocado Egg Toast from Eating Well.
It uses a quarter of an avocado, a quarter teaspoon of ground pepper, one-eighth a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a fried egg atop a slice of whole-wheat or whole-grain toast garnished with one tablespoon of chopped scallions and a smidge of Sriracha. The mouthwatering dish is also low in added sugars, making it a great addition to your first meal of the day.
You likely know that dairy impacts blood glucose, but how do fermented dairy products affect your blood sugar, and what about yogurt in particular? Many connect eating fermented foods such as yogurt and cottage cheese with decreasing diabetes risk, but there’s more to the conversation.
What has been observed is that while there’s no strong correlation between fermented dairy products (in general) and diabetes, the risk is lower specifically for yogurt. The information comes from a study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, but research is still ongoing.
From the research there is on the subject, yogurt can be a good candidate for a healthy breakfast and may help regulate blood sugar levels. So, it’s good to have a cup of low-carbohydrate, high-protein fermented food for breakfast, especially if you’re looking to control your blood glucose. Just make sure that the kind you’re eating doesn’t have added sugars.
Very Berry Breakfast Yogurt Recipe to Try
If you’ve been longing for something simple to make and delicious to eat, look no further than this Mixed Berry Smoothie from nutritionist Jill Weisenberger. You’ll need a cup of frozen mixed berries, a cup of non-fat yogurt (you can also try Greek yogurt if you prefer that), and one tablespoon of the sweetener of your choice. You also need two tablespoons of tart juice like cranberry, pomegranate, or cherry. This can make it higher in sugar, so it may be good to consider this an optional ingredient.
Apart from being quick to whip up, this one is doubly helpful if you want to control your blood sugar levels. Both berries and yogurt can have positive effects on glycemic and lipid profiles.
3) Chia Seeds
High-fiber foods can help mitigate glucose responses, and chia seeds are a good example. They are rich in protein, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fatty acids like omega-3s, all nutrients linked in some way or other with better blood glucose control.
One small study, published in Nature, found that eating bread incorporated with either whole or ground up chia seeds helped reduce blood glucose levels in healthy adults.
Another bit of research, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, also in Nature, observed “significantly lower blood glucose levels” in healthy adults from consuming chia seed bread.
Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding Breakfast Recipe to Try
Adding chia seeds to your breakfast is an excellent option for controlling blood sugar spikes. So, dip a spoon into this delicious Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding with Almond Milk from Diabetes Strong.
For this yummy breakfast option, you’ll need half a cup of chia seeds, one and one-third cups of unsweetened almond milk, one-third cup of cocoa powder, four tablespoons of the sweetener of your choice, and a three-fourth teaspoon of salt. It’s high in polyunsaturated fat, protein, and fiber.
4) Whole Grain Avocado Toast
Yes, there’s more avocado on this list, and for a good reason! There’s a connection between eating bread and your blood glucose levels. Of course, the type of bread you eat matters too.
White bread tends to be high in starch and low in fiber; it has a higher glycemic index (GI), is digested quickly, and causes significant changes in blood sugar. However, whole-grain bread is high-fiber and has lower GI values, making it a better option when focusing on controlling blood sugar levels.
But it’s not as simple as switching to whole wheat bread. Many types of bread marketed as “whole grain” may include whole grains only in the crust, while most of the bread actually has refined white flour. So make sure you know what you’re getting when you pick something off the supermarket shelf. Remember to read the nutritional facts labels and look for 100 percent whole-grain bread.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. All these seem to play a role in the healthy functioning of the heart and circulatory system. As far back as 1988, in research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have found that including monounsaturated fats in your diet could improve glycemic control.
Tasty Breakfast Avocado Toast Recipe to Try
This super simple recipe from Diabetes Food Hub should allow you to have the right start to your day. The Avocado Toast with Turkey Bacon and Tomato recipe comes from the nutrition experts at the American Diabetes Association.
To make this healthy breakfast, you’ll need two slices of lean turkey bacon, half an avocado, two slices of 100 percent whole-wheat bread, a pinch each of salt and black pepper, and one plum tomato.
5) Low-Glycemic Smoothie
A smoothie is chock full of the nutrients of its constituent ingredients and comes in a neat little sippable package. But that’s not the whole story. It’s generally considered better to consume whole fruit instead of fruit juice. And with smoothies, it’s easy to get it wrong: that translates to extra carbs and calories, leading to higher glucose spikes. However, there are upsides to smoothies, too.
A study on two commercially available fruit smoothies found that each contained a good amount of fiber and had a low glycemic index (GI). However, the glycemic load that they produced was medium and borderline low. So you shouldn’t feel guilty about adding a low-glycemic smoothie to your breakfast regimen, as long as you keep the fiber content up and the added sugar levels down.It’s also a good idea to add a protein source to your smoothies, like whey, plain Greek yogurt or peanut butter.
Breakfast Berry Blast Smoothie Recipe to Try
This simple 120-calorie recipe from Cook Gem would make an excellent addition to any breakfast table. To whip it up, you need one cup of almond milk, one teaspoon of lemon juice, one cup of baby spinach, half an avocado, one cup of blueberries, half a cup of strawberries, and one tablespoon of hemp seeds.
A pinch of cinnamon powder will give your drink a mellow flavor profile. You can also modify this to suit your tastes—add a different type of leafy green, consider other berries, etc.
6) Veggie Omelet
We’ve seen how eggs, when eaten in moderation, can be good for controlling blood glucose levels. And they’re even better when whipped up into vegetable omelet form, adding tasty and nutrient-dense veggies to the mix. Even on its own (if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or don’t want to add in the eggs), a veggie omelet can be a healthy breakfast option.
Most non-starchy and leafy green vegetables are low-fat and low-carb. These include carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus. Remember to add a source of protein to your meal too.
Garden Veggie Omelet Breakfast Recipe to Try
A veggie omelet with simple garden vegetables is our pick for a delicious savory start to your morning. This one comes from Diabetes UK. The recipe uses two eggs, a pinch of white pepper, one teaspoon of rapeseed oil (our Nutrition Team suggests replacing this with olive or avocado oil), and 250 grams sliced mushrooms, and one chopped spring onion.
You can add 10 grams of low-fat cheddar cheese to make it more delectable. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms and onions, add other healthy veggies like spinach and tomatoes.
7) Nuts and Seeds
From nut butter to granola, nuts, and seeds are typically part of a healthy breakfast. They have vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids—the good kind. They’re also a good source of plant protein and are fiber-dense and low in carbohydrate content. Overall, they have a healthy nutritional profile.
According to a 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients, nuts contain compounds that help balance insulin and glucagon, both hormones involved in maintaining blood glucose levels.
So including a healthy mix of nuts and seeds in your diet is a great idea. Good options to help balance blood sugar levels include almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Breakfast Oatmeal Muffin with Pumpkin Seed Recipe to Try
This recipe for Oatmeal Muffins topped with Pumpkin Seeds and Nuts from Diabetic Foodie uses simple ingredients and is a low-sugar breakfast option.
To make these delicious muffins, you’ll need two eggs, one and a half cups of unsweetened almond milk, one banana, two tablespoons of coconut oil, a quarter cup of honey, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
You’ll also need three cups of rolled oats, a teaspoon each of baking powder and ground cinnamon, and half a teaspoon of salt. And, of course, top it all off with some pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut chips, and almond slivers.
Fatty fish, like salmon, contain high amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. High-protein foods are generally linked with more stable blood sugar levels. There seems to be a lot of advice on how eating salmon may be good for blood glucose levels. However, there may not be enough research to connect the dots between salmon and lowered blood glucose levels.
But that shouldn’t cast aspersions on fish like salmon. That is to say that salmon is still a healthy food, high in protein and B vitamins, loaded with minerals and antioxidants, and possibly benefitting heart and brain health. A breakfast favorite—smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel may not be the healthiest option, but here’s another excellent way to use salmon.
Scrambled Eggs, Salmon, and Toast Recipe to Try
Combine the goodness of avocado, eggs, and whole-grain toast with the flavor profile of smoked salmon to light up your palate in the morning with this recipe from Bon Appétit.
You’ll need three tablespoons of minced chives, six eggs, two tablespoons of unsalted butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, four slices of whole-grain toast, an avocado, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and four ounces of smoked salmon.
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Amanda is a Nutrition Manager and Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University. Originally from south GA, she got her undergrad degree from Texas Tech University. Before joining Nutrisense, she worked at a hospital in Fort Worth, TX, for 4 years as a dietitian, counseling those living with HIV.