A US dietitian’s suggestion that a slice of pizza is a healthier breakfast choice than a bowl of breakfast cereal has raised plenty of interest around the world.
Could it be possible a slice of your favorite Friday night treat is better for you than some crunchy flakes served with cold milk?
The answer is, it depends on what sort of pizza and breakfast cereal we are talking about.
Breakfast cereal often cops a bad rap as it’s perceived as a highly processed, sugary breakfast option.
While there are some sugary cereals, with many of the popular US brands being highly processed, there are also plenty of wholegrain, high fiber and reduced sugar options, including oats, muesli and bran flakes, which can be teamed with protein-rich toppings.
These include Greek yogurt and milk to create a nutrient-rich breakfast that will keep you full and satisfied for several hours.
Recent Australian data exploring the diets of breakfast cereal consumers published in the journal Nutrients, revealed breakfast cereal eaters have lower BMI’s, have healthier diets throughout the day, consume more whole grains and dietary fiber and consume the lowest amount of added sugars each day.
So while there are some sugary breakfast cereals out there, this does not mean that all breakfast cereal is a poor breakfast option.
Now pizza, like cereal too has a wide and ever-growing range of options.
You can find a deep fried stuffed crust pizza that clocks in at between 300 and 400 calories and 20 to 30 grams of fat per slice, and you can find a thin slice of baked pizza with tons of vegetables that can contain about 150 to 200 calories and very little bad fat.
You can even make your own pizza on a slice of thin style bread with a sprinkle of feta and olive oil and it is really more like a thin, healthy sandwich.
Like breakfast cereal there are much better pizza choices than others.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The issue comes when we try to compare them because pizza and breakfast cereal are not the same.
Breakfast cereal being relatively high in carbohydrates will be digested more quickly than a serving of vegetable and protein-rich pizza, which fuels the argument that pizza may be a better choice to keep you full and satisfied through the morning.
On the other hand, the chance you will find a protein and vegetable-rich pizza that is not also packed full of calories is pretty slim.
The average pizza slice that we pick up at food courts or order online is high in fat, salt and calories, which is the reason we feel tired, bloated and heavy after eating it.
Sure if you make your own pizza, choose a thin wholemeal base, top it with only vegetables and lean protein and consume just a small slice or two you could be onto something, but seriously, who is really going to do that?
This is not to say that a bowl of your favorite sugary breakfast cereal is great either because some of the most popular breakfast cereals are relatively processed, contain added sugars and lack the protein and fiber a nutritionally balanced, healthy meal needs.
CEREALS THAT PASS THE TEST
For breakfast cereal to make the grade nutritionally, it really needs to be a controlled serve of whole grains with no added sugars enjoyed with extra protein. Again this takes time, work and effort to get the balance right.
So where does this leave you at breakfast time? An ideal breakfast contains 20 to 30 grams of good quality protein, whole grains for fiber and energy and some sort of fresh fruit or vegetables to boost its overall nutritional profile.
If this means a bowl of oats, yogurt and fresh fruit, you are on the right track, but it could also mean a slice of thin wholemeal pizza with extra vegetables and lean chicken, ham and a little cheese.
That is the great thing about nutrition, you also get to make the choice. But if you were hoping that pizza for breakfast translates into a slice or two of your favorite takeaway, the bowl of oats will still come up trumps.