The Surprising Food You Should Be Including In Your Breakfast

When you picture a classic American breakfast, one of the following meals might come to mind: a stack of pancakes or waffles topped with a dab of butter and a cascade of maple syrup, some form of eggs accompanied by strips of bacon or sausage links, or a bowl of yogurt layered with fruit and granola. These are all winners, for sure, but the first meal of the day doesn't have to be pigeonholed into only three options. Cultures around the world eat all kinds of foods to start their day. 

According to Japanese cookbook author Setsuko Yoshizuka of The Spruce Eats, a traditional Japanese breakfast typically consists of steamed rice, miso soup, some sort of protein, and "various side vegetables," often accompanied by a cup of green tea. Over in the North African country of Tunisia, you might find people starting the day with a freshly fried Bambalouni, a sugar-dusted doughnut typically served with coffee (via Taste Atlas). Meanwhile, a family in Turkey might share a big skillet of Menemen (also known as Turkish eggs), which Serious Eats defines as "scrambled eggs with tomatoes, onions, and chilies."

Now that your mind has expanded its definition of breakfast, why not switch up your standard routine? According to experts at organizations like the American Heart Association, starting your day with a serving of an unlikely ingredient comes with a host of health benefits. 

Try fish for breakfast

City Pier Seafood cites a number of trusty sources that espouse the benefits of eating fish for breakfast. For one, eating fish at the start of the day can be good for your heart — just think of those fish oil capsules you take with your morning coffee. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), eating two or more seafood-centric meals per week, be it salmon, tuna, or a more sustainable fish like trout can help you keep up your cardiovascular health. The AHA refers to a study that concludes that adding seafood to your diet can "reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and sudden cardiac death." 

City Pier Seafood also cites the American Psychiatry Association, which maintains that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish can do wonders for overall cognitive health and brain function. If you're a skincare enthusiast, you may already know that fish is great for your complexion. According to the American Skin Association, the vitamins and minerals in fish can "fight cellular aging in your skin." If you're ready to incorporate fish into your morning routine, rest assured that you don't necessarily have to pan-fry a fillet every morning.

Adding fish to your breakfast can be easy

Introducing fish into your breakfast doesn't have to be any more labor intensive than preparing oats, a smoothie, or any other meal you're used to prepping in the morning. If you're looking for something to make while you're half-asleep, get yourself some cured or smoked salmon or trout (bonus points if it's locally sourced) and drape it over your avocado toast for a zhuzhed-up take on a classic. For an extra hit of protein, take that same oily fish and toss it in a scramble, a breakfast taco, or an egg bake. 

If you have a little more time in the morning, take cues from the aforementioned Japanese tradition of serving fish over steamed rice alongside vegetables. Korean American YouTube food personality Doobydobap has a video for a simple "foil salmon" with mushrooms, which she serves with rice and umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) and a requisite bowl of miso soup.