The Surprising Vegetable You Should Be Adding To Your Breakfast

Most people have a go-to breakfast. Whether it's a couple of pancakes, a bowl of cereal, or an egg with some toast, there's one staple meal that people grab when they want to eat before starting their day. A 2017 study out of the University of Minnesota might have you rethinking your usual choice, however.

First published in the journal Appetite, the study took on the increasingly popular question of whether mushrooms are a viable meat substitute. There have been a few studies tackling the question from different angles, but the researchers at the University of Minnesota wanted to test one very specific factor. They wanted to find out how satisfied people were after eating the same amount of protein from both sources.

Participants were given either mushrooms or meat to eat with their breakfasts for 10 days. The portions of mushrooms and meat were roughly equal in calorie and protein content, though the mushrooms inherently had more fiber. Researchers found that people who ate mushrooms were fuller, planned to eat less after breakfast, and felt less hunger than those who ate meat.

And this is good news for people who want to cut calories or lose weight. Mushrooms pack less fat and more fiber per calorie, after all. But there are some limitations to the study that ultimately mean more research is needed.

A limited study still offers big flavor

The two main concerns with the University of Minnesota study are its size and its sponsor. Researchers tapped 32 adults — 17 women and 15 men — as participants. That is a very small sample size to draw a concrete conclusion from. And as the study was funded by the Mushroom Council, there is a need for more independent research.

But don't skip the sautéed mushrooms just yet. A 2015 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health — referenced by Eureka Alert — found that mixing mushrooms into meat dishes reduced the saturated fat content without sacrificing flavor. And as the American Heart Association makes clear, diets high in saturated fats are dangerous to cardiovascular health.

Adding mushrooms to your breakfast doesn't mean you have to give up your sausage or bacon entirely. You can substitute some sautéed mushrooms in place of a portion of meat. After all, meat and mushrooms have been eaten together in cultures around the world for centuries. It's a natural pairing that helps lower a meal's calorie count, up its fiber, and reduce its saturated fat. A big health boost that brings a rich new flavor to the plate is a complete win-win.