START the day with a decent meal and you’ll be slimmer, cheerier and more focused but too many of us just eat the same old food. ANGELA DOWDEN offers some ideas that add variety and meet your body’s needs.

Best for slimmers

Two poached eggs on a slice of wholemeal toast spread with low-fat spread and grilled tomato and a cup of green tea

329 calories, 18.3g fat

Women who ate a couple of eggs for breakfast reduced their total food intake over the day by around 400 calories according to American researchers at the Rochester centre for Obesity. Repeated every day for just over two months adds up to a weight loss of around half a stone. The satiating ingredient appears to be protein which one theory suggests may stimulate the release of hunger-controlling hormones in the gut. Team with a slice of wholemeal or grainy toast to give slow release energy and add mushrooms or tomatoes to make one of your five a day. Swill down with green tea which helps boost fat burning.

Best for heart health

Kippers, one slice of wholemeal toast with low-fat spread and grilled tomatoes

529 calories, 32.9g fat

Kippers are packed with omega-3s, and you only need to breakfast on them once a week to cover your body’s requirement of these fats which help reduce the risk of a heart attack by improving blood flow and reducing clotting risk. To maximise the benefit, team with lycopene-rich tomatoes – also linked with lower risk of cardiovascular disease – and spread an accompanying slice of toast with a low-fat spread that also has cholesterol-reducing properties such as Benecol Light. The average smoked kipper supplies half your daily maximum of blood pressure-raising salt however; so don’t have this breakfast too often

Best for stamina

Bowl of porridge made with semi-skimmed milk; two reduced-fat sausages and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes

511 calories, 18.6g fat

Carbohydrate-rich porridge and lower fat sausages make the ideal combination for a demanding lifestyle. Oats are particularly useful as slow release fuel for both physical and mental tasks, and they also contain beta glucan, a substance that helps to keep cholesterol levels in check. Sausages provide protein for repair of muscles and to help keep appetite curbed. Add at least one of your one of your five a day – three tablespoons of mushrooms and/or tomatoes for example – to make a balanced start when you need plenty of stamina to get you through the morning.

Best for the menopause

Two slices of soya and linseed toast spread with low-fat spread, bowl of low-fat natural yogurt with blueberries

423 calories, 17.7g fat

Breads made with soya and linseeds (such as the Burgen or Vogel brands) are a good source of “phyto” or plant oestrogens. Although many times weaker than normal oestrogen, these plant versions of the hormone may help to give a minor boost to flagging hormone levels, in turn easing hot flushes. A bowl of calcium-rich low-fat natural yogurt is the perfect partner because falling oestrogen levels can also compromise bone strength. Add a handful of blueberries - in animal studies, extracts of these berries have been shown to protect neurological function and even prevent memory loss.

Best for anaemia

Two eggs scrambled with milk and low-fat spread, two slices of black pudding and a glass of orange juice

449 calories, 1.9g fat

In total, this breakfast supplies over 90 per cent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of iron. Black pudding is an excellent source of “haem” iron – the type that is absorbed more readily by the body and therefore of particular value in guarding against iron-deficiency anaemia. Eggs also supply iron but in the “non-haem” form that isn’t so easily absorbed. Teaming with a source of vitamin C (such as orange juice), improves intake of this less available form.

Best for an immune boost

Berry smoothie, sugar-free fruit and nut muesli with semi-skimmed milk and chopped banana plus a pot of probiotic drink

414 calories, 8.5g fat

Nuts, dried fruit and berries are antioxidant-rich foods to eat more of when you’re looking to optimise your immune system. This breakfast supplies two of your five a day and the berry smoothie in particular provides lots of anthocyanins, which appear to have antiviral effects and to miminise inflammation damage. Teaming with a daily pot of probiotic drink tops up good bacteria in the gut, whilst a banana contains prebiotic fibres which feed these bacteria, helping them thrive. Approximately 70 per cent of our immune system is in our digestive system which is why it’s so important to maintain a healthy gut flora.

Best for pregnancy

Bowl of fortified wholegrain cereal (such as bran flakes) with semi-skimmed milk, pot of fruit yogurt, plus a glass of orange juice

379 calories, 3g fat

Breakfast during pregnancy needs ideally to be a light, non fatty and high carbohydrate meal to boost energy and alleviate nausea. During the first three months it’s essential to get enough folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects. Opt for a fortified cereal such as bran flakes or Special K which contains 50 per cent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of this vitamin per bowl (remembering also to take a 400 microgram supplement during the first three months). This breakfast also supplies 25 per cent the RDA of iron, needed to build the baby’s blood supply which will be better absorbed by teaming with vitamin C-rich juice. A yogurt adds calcium, important for the bones of both mother and baby.

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