Better Brunching: Which Classic Dish Is Healthier?

Brunch ain’t the healthiest meal, but some choices are better than others.


Which egg dish is lowest in saturated fat?

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A simple omelet saves on saturated fat

Creating a plump, cake-like quiche or frittata requires a hefty amount of extra saturated fat, which comes from whole milk and even half-and-half. (You can make it with reduced-fat dairy, but let’s be honest: Your favorite restaurant is probably not making a “light” quiche.) Omelets tend to be lower in saturated fat because they need little or no milk. Too much saturated fat is bad news for cholesterol levels and can cause plaque buildup in the arteries, which over time can lead to serious conditions like heart disease and stroke.  

Stick to a two-egg omelet to keep saturated fat and calories in check. You can also order egg white omelets to reduce your saturated fat intake further, but keep in mind that egg yolks can help you stay full longer and are a great source of the essential nutrient choline. As long as you’re not chowing down on multiple omelets a day, ordering a regular omelet during weekend brunch is perfectly healthy.


Which sweet bakery treat contains the least sugar?

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Coffee cake takes the cake

First, you learned coffee cake contains no coffee. Now, there’s a new fact to wrap your head around: It’s typically a bit less sugary than other breakfast pastries. To be clear, the 29 grams of sugar in one slice of coffee cake from, say, Panera Bread is more than your daily recommended intake of sugar, but it beats the 47 grams of sugar in Panera’s cinnamon roll and the 40 grams in the blueberry muffin. All of these are high in sugar and can spike blood sugar levels, so the healthiest choice is to go ahead and pick your favorite—and then share it with another person (or two).


Which egg-topped dish is better for your heart?

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Choose the avo for heart-healthy fats

Let’s put it this way: The first two ingredients in hollandaise sauce are butter and egg yolks. Just a single tablespoon of the rich sauce contains 3 grams of saturated fat (and we bet your go-to brunch spot uses way more than a tablespoon on your eggs Bennie). Breakfast hashes can vary greatly in their healthfulness, and using sweet potatoes is one way to amp up the nutritional value. However, hashes are often fried in a lot of oil, and sausage is high in saturated fat. On the other hand, avocado has heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which can actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Side note: Sausage and Canadian bacon belong to a category of cured and processed meats along with bacon, chorizo, and hot dogs. The World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society recommend limiting processed meats due to carcinogenic properties.


Which of these savory brunch faves is lowest in saturated fat?

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Shakshuka reigns supreme

Shakshuka, an Israeli dish consisting of eggs poached in a tomato and vegetable sauce, is possibly one of the healthiest brunch options of all. The 5 grams of saturated fat comes primarily from the poached egg, and the rest of the dish is comprised of perfectly seasoned, good-for-you stewed tomatoes and veggies. As for the other savory brunch faves, you’ll have a hard time finding any for under 15 grams of saturated fat—especially with the large portion sizes served at most restaurants.


Which brunch bowl is lowest in sugar?

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Go with oatmeal on this one

While all these brunch bowls are often pitched as healthy options, the sugar content can be higher than expected. Açai bowls, for example, can be a major sugar bomb. Smoothies and smoothie bowls pack multiple servings of fruit in one dish that’s easy to slurp down quickly, and many restaurants blend frozen fruit juice instead of whole fruit. Sugar from fruit is definitely  preferred over white table sugar, but a large dose of fruit-derived sugar in one sitting is still tough on digestion and blood sugar levels, and it may not keep you full for long.

As for yogurt, choosing plain, unsweetened yogurt is always a great choice. However, proceed with caution when it comes to granola:  Just ¼ cup of typical granola contains around 6 grams of added sugar (and you KNOW that parfait has more than just a quarter cup of granola).

Quiz Results

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Reviewed by: Preeti Parikh, MD, . Review date: March 8, 2018
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