Few breakfast foods boast the same health credentials as porridge.
A filling morning choice, oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre. This has been proven to lower cholesterol as well as zinc, magnesium and iron. And because it is super high in fibre, it is also wholly wonderful for the digestive system, giving – ahem – detoxifying effects before you get on with your day.
Now we’ve covered that porridge is really good for you, the next question is: what are the healthiest porridge toppings? After all, nobody has just porridge and water for breakfast (that’s gruel – you know, prison food).
So, to find out what you should put in your porridge that’s healthy, read on.
Flaxseeds are a small seed, a bit like sunflower seeds, making them a versatile porridge topping.
However, where they are small in appearance they are big in nutrition. High in protein and fibre, these are excellent for sprinkling over a satiating bowl of porridge.
Best of all, they’re high in omega-3 fatty acids. As I mentioned in an earlier post, omega-3s have incredible gut-friendly, anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3s are also fantastic for brain health – a silver bullet for sleepyheads.
You might struggle to find flaxseeds in the supermarket, but they’re easy to spot in specialist health stores like Holland & Barrett and on Amazon.
You’ll know cinnamon from heavenly Xmas drinks, but it also has lots of health benefits that make it an ideal porridge topping, too.
For starters, it has loads of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body against “free radicals”, of which cause oxidative stress on the body. Essentially, cinnamon gives your gut a much-needed chill pill.
Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance. As I’ve pointed out in a previous article, spikes in insulin cause the body to crave more high-sugar foods/drinks (hence why a poor breakfast might leave you reaching for a sugary elevenses).
Sprinkle a little ground cinnamon over your porridge with milk or plant-based mylk for an indulgent, warming brekkie.
If you’re health-conscious, you’ve probably seen chicory inulin or chicory root in your favourite foods’ ingredients list. But do you actually know what chicory is? Me, neither. Well, until now.
Chicory is a part of the dandelion family, so it’s technically a flower (not a vegetable, which a lot of people tend to believe). The chicory plant is a rich source of inulin, a chain of sugar molecules. However, unlike cane sugar, chicory inulin is a prebiotic dietary fibre that has been proven to boost gut health.
In other words, inulin is a low calorie, low sugar sweetener that is good for the digestive system – and a superb fibre-filled porridge topping.
As with flaxseeds, you won’t find inulin or inulin powder in supermarkets, but you will find it in specialist healthfood stores or on Amazon.
Finding a healthy pre-mixed porridge
If you don’t have the time to head out to specialist shops to get all the healthy porridge toppings listed above, there’s still no excuse to go back to golden syrup or chocolate spread in your porridge.
In fact, you can buy healthy porridges from certain reputable UK websites that include all three of the best gut-friendly porridge toppings.
Eat Troo’s healthy Happy Porridge+ boasts the trifecta of flaxseeds, chicory inulin and cinnamon – and even better, all you need to do is top it up with warm water and leave to sit for a few minutes if you’re in a rush!
If a cold cereal is more to your liking, we recommend Eat Troo’s Nicely Nutty granola.
Despite my previous misgivings about the health benefits of granola, this one not only has flaxseeds, chicory root fibre and cinnamon (along with loads of nuts and healthy seeds), there’s also no added sugar (normally the first ingredient in many mainstream granolas). Delicious!
For more on gut-friendly breakfasts and probiotic foods, type ‘gut-friendly’, ‘probiotic’ and ‘IBS’ in the search bar to the right.