iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Consumer Reports is out with a new study that breaks down their top picks for on-the-go breakfast food options from some of the country’s most popular chain restaurants.
The report comes at a time when roughly one-third of Americans get their breakfast from fast-food chains, according to the market research firm NPD Group.
If you are on the run and don’t have time to cook what’s often dubbed the most important meal of the day at home, it is still possible to find relatively healthy and affordable on-the-go meals at local chains.
Consumer Reports scored popular breakfast foods at a handful of national chain restaurants, rating meals based on nutrition, price and taste.
Registered dietitian nutritionist Maya Feller broke down their top picks, and shared her tips on how to modify for your diet.
No matter where you go to grab a breakfast on the go, Feller emphasized that it is important to focus on the quality of the food, and look for minimally processed ingredients that are rich in fiber and provide whole grains, heart healthy fats, lean proteins and nonstarchy vegetables.
Consumer Reports‘ two highest-scoring breakfast options at the chains they reviewed were from Panera Bread, with the Panera Bread’s egg whites and cheddar on skinny wheat bagel sandwich and Panera Bread’s steel cut oatmeal with strawberries and pecans tying with the highest scores.
Overall, the sandwich is a great grab-and-go option, according to Feller. Avocado is nutrient-dense and a good source of mono- and polyunsaturated heart-healthy fats. The added spinach and tomato also provide phytonutrients.
From Au Bon Pain, Consumer Reports‘ top pick was the two eggs, cheddar and ham on skinny wheat bagel sandwich.
Feller noted that the use of whole grain bread in breakfast sandwiches is always a better dietary choice compared to refined grains, because it provides more fiber and a better nutrient profile.
If you are watching your sodium intake, however, Feller recommends modifying the sandwich by skipping the ham and cheese.
From Jamba Juice, the Consumer Reports nutritionists picked the fruit and Greek yogurt energy Bowl.
The fresh fruits are generally a good source of fiber and antioxidants, and are paired with protein-rich nonfat yogurt in the energy bowl.
If you are watching your sugar intake, however, Feller notes that the bowl contains 10 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. You can modify this by asking for the bowl to be made without any added sweeteners, and rely just on the sweetness of the fruit.
From Starbucks, Consumer Reports recommended the Starbuck’s hearty blueberry oatmeal.
The oatmeal is a great source of dietary fiber, and this version is unsweetened. You can add mixed nuts, dried fruit and fresh berries for flavor.
Feller recommends choosing your toppings carefully. If you’re watching your calories, stick with the berries. If you’re watching blood sugar, then opt for the nuts.
Finally, healthy eating is not one size fits all, according to Feller, and it is important to eat what is right for your body’s needs.
Consumer Reports also looked at breakfast options at other chain restaurants, including McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, which they ranked relatively lower than the breakfast choices available at Panera, Au Bon Pain and Jamba Juice.
You can find out more about their top picks for breakfast foods in their full report, which is in the August issue of Consumer Reports.
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