Your favourite breakfast spreads, ranked from healthiest to least healthy

Dietitian Melissa Meyer spills the tea on what you should be smothering across your toast each morning.

Although bread gets a bad rap, it can actually be the perfect base for a satisfying morning meal. If it’s wholegrain, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s packed with low-GI carbs for long-lasting energy and fibre for a healthy gut. It’ll also provide a boost of plant-based protein to keep hunger pangs at bay well into the morning. Yes, a humble slice (or two) of bread really can be that good for you.

What you top your toast with, however, plays a B-I-G role in deciding where your toast meal sits on the nutritious breakfast scale. To help you make the best decision, here’s my definitive ranking of the most common brekkie spreads, from healthiest to least healthy. Put the toaster on!

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Your favourite breakfast spreads, ranked from healthiest to least healthy

  1. Natural peanut butter

527kJ (126cal), 4.9g protein, 10.9g fat, 1.9g sat fat, 1.9g carbs, 0g sugar, 1.3g fibre and 5mg sodium per tablespoon (20g)

Plant-based protein – tick. Heart healthy fats – tick. Gut-loving fibre – tick. Natural peanut butter (read: a product that’s simply 100 per cent peanuts) scores a lot of points in my books. Opt for an unsalted variety and you’re good to go.

  1. Avocado

430kJ (102cal), 1g protein, 10.7g fat, 2.4g sat fat,

Jam-packed with heart healthy fats and gut-loving fibre, avocado is another good-for-you toast topper that’s on high rotation in my household. To keep portion size in check, top your wholegrain toast with just a quarter of an avocado. Add a poached egg or two for some muscle-building protein to balance out the meal.

  1. Ricotta cheese

661kJ (158cal), 12.2g protein, 10.4g fat, 6.6g sat fat, 2.4g carbs, 2.4g sugar, 0g fibre and 222mg sodium per half cup (120g)

With around a quarter of your daily calcium needs per serve and a decent boost of hunger-busting protein, ricotta is an excellent way to start the day. I love to combine it with tomato, basil and balsamic, but if sweet is more you’re thing, you could swap the tomatoes for strawberries. Delish.

  1. Vegemite

36kJ (9cal), 1.3g protein,

Yes, Vegemite contains salt, but a little bit goes a long way, so you’re probably not eating as much salt as you might think. An added bonus is that it comes fortified with b-group vitamins (think: thiamin for energy production and folate for mums to be). I’d recommend adding a slice of cheese to your vegemite toast for a little protein boost.

  1. Honey and/or jam

Per tablespoon honey: 264kJ (63cal), 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 16.4g carbs, 16.4g sugar, 0g fibre, 3mg sodium

Per tablespoon jam: 210kJ (50cal), 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 12.9g carbs, 12.9g sugar, 0.2g fibre, 3mg sodium

Much the same in the nutrition stakes, honey and jam are packed with sugar. You might be surprised to learn they’re classified as ‘added’ sugar, which should be minimised in a healthy diet. Obviously, it’s okay to enjoy honey and/or jam every now and then, but I’d recommend thinking of these favourites as a treat rather than an everyday affair.

  1. Nutella

446kJ (107cal), 1.3g protein, 6.2g fat, 2.1g sat fat, 11.5g carbs, 11.3g sugar and 8mg sodium per tablespoon

The first two ingredients in Nutella are sugar and palm oil, which means Nutella is definitely a special occasion food. No surprises there! Again, it’s perfectly fine once in a blue moon, but I’d keep it out of the house, especially if you’re a chocoholic and find it hard to resist temptation.

  1. Butter

605kJ (145cal), 0.2g protein, 16.3g fat, 10.7g sat fat, 0g carbs, 0g sugar, 0g fibre and 141mg sodium per tablespoon

Butter is enjoying it’s time in the sun, but let me set the record straight: it’s an energy-dense ingredient that’s high in saturated fat, which is bad news for heart health, and should most certainly be minimised. Swap butter for one of the healthier alternatives further up the list.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.