4 healthy but convenient breakfast swaps to try if you want to cut down on ultra-processed foods, according to a dietitian

4 healthy but convenient breakfast swaps to try if you want to cut down on ultra-processed foods, according to a dietitian
  • Ultra-processed foods make up a large portion on the average American's diet.

  • UPFs are linked to health conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

  • A dietitian shared four breakfast foods to try if you want to cut down on UPFs.

Many of the convenient breakfast foods found in grocery stores are ultra-processed, from cereals to bars. But healthier alternatives that are still easy to pick up and go do exist, a dietitian told Business Insider.

Ultra-processed foods — which tend not to look like the chemically modified ingredients they're made from, using methods that aren't easily replicable at home — are a hot topic right now. Growing research suggests they can increase the risk of conditions including cancer, heart disease, and obesity.

That's worrying considering that around 60% of the American diet is processed, and convenience foods and snacks made $353.87 billion in revenue in the US in 2023, compared to $174.28 billion for fruits and veg.

At the same time, dietitians have previously told BI that it can be unwise to stop eating all UPFs because some are healthier than others and they can be a cheap and easy way to consume nutrients.

Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian based in New York, told BI: "it's our job as consumers to understand which ones are better than others and make an informed and educated decision from there."

When it comes to breakfast, experts agree that the ideal meal includes protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Beckerman shared some convenient products that are minimally processed to help you make healthier choices in the morning.

Premade oatmeal

Many pre-made, ready-to-eat oatmeal products are processed, containing added sugar, powdered milk, and flavorings. But oats are great for you: they contain protein, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer, and fiber, which has a range of benefits including being good for heart and gut health and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

If you don't have time to make your own, Beckerman recommends Mush's ready-to-eat overnight oats.

They "are made with clean ingredients that give you natural energy to tackle your day," and make a "fast and nutritious breakfast that you don't have to craft from scratch," she said.


Most grocery-store cereal brands tend to be very high in sugar and release energy very quickly, clinical nutritionist Juli Keene previously told BI, which can lead to a quick drop in energy levels, known as a sugar crash.

Beckerman recommends Real Cereal instead, which has no added sugar or preservatives.

Dietitian Marissa Arnone previously told BI that some processed cereals can have some nutritional value if they have vitamins and minerals added back into them during the processing, so they can be part of a balanced diet.

Breakfast bars

Many people grab breakfast bars for on-the-go mornings, but they often contain lots of sugar and saturated fats.

Beckerman said that The Perfect Bar snacks are a good alternative because the "combination of protein and healthy fats actually keeps you full," and they contain honey, which has antioxidant properties and has been linked to lower cholesterol.


"Unlike most granola companies out there, Hampton's Grocer Granola is made with premium and simple ingredients like whole nuts, super seeds, and wildflower honey," Beckerman said.

The nuts in this granola are a good source of healthy fats, and it contains vitamins and minerals because it's sweetened with honey instead of the refined sugar or corn syrup typically used in granola.

Read the original article on Business Insider