Breakfast on-the-go: Rating fast-food options for the most important meal of the day

Grabbing breakfast on the go doesn't mean you have to skip out on eating well. Healthier and tastier options are becoming more available.

Consumer Reports checked out the offerings at six popular chains: McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Au Bon Pain, Panera Bread, Jamba Juice and Starbucks.

It tasted and rated 48 items that stood out on the menu as better choices, including sandwiches, oatmeal, smoothies and other morning favorites.

If you try the oatmeal or other whole grain foods, they can be a great source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. But watch out for added sugars. The best oatmeal is unsweetened with toppings like fresh fruit, nuts and raisins.

Consumer Reports nutritionist Amy Keating warns that adding toppings such as chocolate chips or sweetened coconut will just up the calorie and sugar count.

"You can ask for honey or sugar on the side. You can make a better bread choice, by choosing whole grain over, say, a croissant. And an egg sandwich can be perfectly tasty without the bacon or ham," Keating said.

Smoothies and energy bowls are sold as healthy options, but Consumer Reports found that many of the ones at the menu on Jamba Juice had high sugars.

It recommended only one fruit and Greek yogurt energy bowl from the chain.

Are you a fan of breakfast boxes? Consumer Reports gave Au Bon Pain's healthy salmon box a fair rating for taste. It found that the fruit and cheese option had too much fat.

It did recommend Starbucks' egg and cheese protein box.

You can read more about the fast-food breakfast choices on the Consumer Reports website.

If you need more reasons to eat a healthy breakfast, research shows people who eat breakfast have lower rates of obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes than people who skip the most important meal of the day.
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