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The Full English Breakfast- Health Hazard or Nutritious Meal In One?

Updated on November 13, 2015
chef-de-jour profile image

Andrew has many years experience cooking and enjoys creating unusual meals in the kitchen.

Protein, vitamins, fats....a typical full English  breakfast.
Protein, vitamins, fats....a typical full English breakfast. | Source

Introduction to the Full English

The full English breakfast is one of the iconic classic meals but is it a healthy all on one plate kind of meal or a bit of a health hazard?

There are four basic foods - meat, egg, bread, vegetables. You'll see these on your plate in the shape of sausage, bacon, black pudding (blood sausage), fried or scrambled egg, toast or fried bread, fried mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. Looking at these foods from a nutritionist's perspective, are they a thumbs up or thumbs down?

Sausage,bacon and other meats Protein,calories,vitamins Total Fats,cholesterol

Eggs Vitamins,minerals,protein Cholesterol, Fats

Bread Carbohydrates,minerals Sugars

Mushrooms Fibre,Vitamins,Minerals

Baked Beans Fibre, Minerals,Vitamins

Tomatoes Vitamins,Fibre,Minerals

On the surface the full English is a mix of the good with the not so good but to help you decide, we're going to look a little deeper into this breakfast. I hope your appetite is good.

For those on special diets I have included a link to various websites including one that specialises in breakfasts for people with diabetes.

Vegetarian sausages in this full English.
Vegetarian sausages in this full English. | Source

Nutritional Analysis Of Full English Breakfast

 
 
Total Fat
33g
Saturated Fat
8.5g
Cholestrol
400mg
Sodium
1100mg
Potassium
850mg
Total Carbs
45.2g
Fibre
3.6g
Sugars
3.0g
Protein
25g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
22%
Calcium
9%
Iron
18%
Figures are for: 1 rasher bacon, 1 pork sausage,2 fried eggs, 100g hash browns,2 slices buttered toast.

Flexible Healthy Options For the Full English Breakfast

If you're not too keen on loads of meat for breakfast why not vary it with vegetarian options? Instead of pork or beef sausages you could opt for vegetarian sausages made from oats and cheese.

Or go for vegeburgers as an alternative to bacon.

From the nutrition point of view you'd lose a lot of fat if you left out the meat but your iron intake would go down too. Eggs are excellent sources of iron and you could cut down on the fat by choosing poached eggs not fried.

You could end up with a completely vegetarian full English and not miss out greatly on taste! OK carnivores I confess, there's nothing as tasty as a rasher of smoky bacon!

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Bubble and Squeak - Recycled Food

You may come across bubble and squeak as part of the full English. This is an old English way of dealing with leftover potatoes and greens. Bubble and squeak comes from the sounds the two make as they're cooking.You fry them up and mix together and hey presto fod that might have been wasted is now a delicious breakfast food!

By the way, Bubble&Squeak is a Cockney term. Learn more about Cockney Rhyming Slang.

Healthy Breakfast?


You could argue that the full English has withstood a barrage of abuse and criticism from dieticians and health experts over the last ten to fifteen years to emerge out of the steamy kitchen rosy cheeked and full of good humour.

Although not to everyone's taste the sight and smell of fresh eggs and bacon is still popular with native and tourist alike because it achieves what it sets out to do in plain, simple, honest fashion. It can't be anything other than itself. But is it more than the sum of its parts? Some think so.

A full English breakfast is something you can recognise no matter where you go in the world. It's a symbol of ....well, Englishness for one, just as ratatouille encapsulates Frenchness, and hot dogs and burgers the USA.

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Full English breakfast, note the green bubble and squeak.
Full English breakfast, note the green bubble and squeak. | Source
A full English is usually good value for money
A full English is usually good value for money | Source

For a Healthier Breakfast Have The Meat Grilled

In addition to the basic four foods of the English breakfast you may also come across hash browns or fried potatoe squares. Strictly speaking these are imports from the USA but are now accepted as par for the course. It's possible therefore in theory to end up with 10 or 11 elements to your breakfast - quite a plateful!

Critics might rightfully point out that a lot of the meat, eggs and vegetables are fried in oil which means that the food will be fatty and 'oily' and that some of their goodness will be lost. They might argue that fatty fried foods cause things like coronary heart disease and cancer - but the scientific evidence does not suggest that this is true.

A recent exhaustive study in Spain for instance, carried out over 11 years with 40,000 volunteers, showed that there were no connections between fried food consumed and coronary heart disease. Similar trials held in the United States also show no links between fried foods and colonic cancer.

What does seem to be true is that the healthiest fried food is cooked in fresh oil (be it olive, sunflower or vegetable) not oil that has been reheated and used again and again. This is of course a risk if you choose to eat at any fast food chain. The answer to this would be to ask for your meats to be grilled alongside the vegetables and your eggs to be poached, thus cutting out any potential hazards.

_____________________________________________________________


All Day And Everyday?

The English breakfast is a survivor because it has evolved and adapted. You can see that the meat content of the meal is balanced by the bread, vegetables and tomatoes; that the eggs are happy no matter which camp they join and that the bread is there also to help mop up the juices at the end.

So what started out as an early morning farmer's meal hundreds of years ago has moved on and up through time, across the high street and even into fashionable city establishments.

The message is clear. This breakfast is still one of the most wholesome meals you can get but you have to be sensible with it. You can't eat it everyday, no way. You should limit yourself to once a week, or once a fortnight. And I would recommend you eat at around 9-10am, that way you can skip lunch because you won't feel like eating! An afternoon snack should see you through to evening dinner or tea. If you can, organise a walk or some form of exercise for the hours following - you will have calories to burn!

If you're going to be a traditionalist then the drink to accompany your bacon 'n eggs has to be tea. With milk and optional sugar. Juice is fine too. Perhaps the best thing about the full English is that you know you won't be rushed at breakfast time, and, as the quote goes - 'All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.'

_________________________________________________________


Diabetes Breakfast Recipes

Morning time is really important for diabetics as blood glucose levels are high so choosing the right kind of breakfast can be crucial.

Here is a link to a helpful website :

Diabetic Breakfast Ideas

_____________________________________________________________

How To Cook Your Full English!

Copyright chef-de-jour@Hubpages

Help stop plagarism. If you suspect this original article has been stolen please contact the author.

© 2012 Andrew Spacey

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    I love to go out for breakfast, or to enjoy a decadent version of that meal now and then! I don't eat many of the things listed here (no bacon, other than turkey, no blood sausage, etc.), but I can very much stuff myself on other things in this hearty mix. Gonna go find something to eat now . . .

  • RolyRetro profile image

    RolyRetro 4 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK

    Has to be a rare treat rather than a daily occurance, but what could be better? I love the full English - has to have Black Pudding to be complete, and a mug or 2 of tea.

    Cheers

    Roly

  • Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

    Deepak Chaturvedi 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Good hub for food lover of any kind.Thanks for share.

  • Jools99 profile image

    Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

    Chef, I do love a full English but I only ever eat it on holiday! As a plate of food though, it has everything you could want - the saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness cutting through from the beans, good meaty sausage soaking up the grilled tomatoes and a nice perfectly cooked fried egg. A side of fried bread or toast is always a nice addition though I have come round to the hash brown in recent years :o)

  • CCahill profile image

    CCahill 4 years ago from England

    I love an English Breakfast, i like how you are not just demonizing it like most of the media does, as you suggest, the meal can be tailored slightly towards different dietary specifications, can't argue with the amount of all round vitamins and nutrients you get from it, providing you make every effort to lower the fat content where possible.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you Annart, much appreciate the visit. I hope your appetite is good if you're attempting the full breakfast!

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

    This is great! How right you are about a leisurely breakfast. I must admit that I can't face a full breakfast early in the day but an English breakfast on holiday, as a 'brunch', is great. We often do one for our French friends and they all seem to like it. I'm not very English where the drink's concerned, though - give me a good French coffee to wash it down any day! You've made me feel hungry so I'm off to cook tea!! Voted up, interesting and useful.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Hey nice one Darrylm - there's just no substitute for the full English, it's in a league of its own. Thank you for the visit and comment. Love the image of you concentrating on all those different ingredients whilst the rest of London goes about its business. One of the best I experienced was at Liverpool's John Lennon airport - 10 foods....all the classics plus fried onions! on one big plate for a reasonable amount of cash.

  • Darrylmdavis profile image

    Darrylmdavis 5 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

    Great hub and to answer the lead question, I'd say...who cares? The full English breakfast is simply brilliant when it's well prepared. I know a great (and cheap) spot near St Pancras in London and typically find myself there a couple times a year eating in religious silence :-)

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Green Bard, many thanks for the visit and comment. Being a vegetarian has its advantages but I don't think I could miss out on the sausage and bacon!

    dobo700,many thanks for the comment, much appreciated.

    molometer, thank you for the visit and comment - olive oil sounds great and gives a different flavour to cooked foods.

    starstream - yes 10 am is about right for this big breakfast! Thank you for the visit and comment,most welcome.

  • dobo700 profile image

    dobo700 5 years ago from Australia

    I'm a big fan of the english breakfast. Not every day though.

  • starstream profile image

    Dreamer at heart 5 years ago from Northern California

    The idea of eating this breakfast at 10 am. is a good one. I am thinking this would be very tasty now. I would add a little fresh berry jam on the toast rather than black pudding.

  • molometer profile image

    molometer 5 years ago

    Totally in favour of the full English breakfast.

    I couldn't go a week without one. I use fresh extra virgin olive oil and loads of chilies. Very healthy. voted up and interesting. Tweeting.

  • Green Bard profile image

    Steve Andrews 5 years ago from Tenerife

    I am a vegetarian these days but love English breakfasts without the bacon and sausage which I gave up. You can buy veggie breakfasts at many cafes here in Tenerife resorts and I often have treated myself. Voted up and Interesting!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks for the visit and comment Deborah, really appreciated. I see you've also indulged in the classic scones with jam and cream....oooh what a treat. And lovely to know that you know about tea time.

  • DeborahNeyens profile image

    Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

    Great analysis of the English breakfast. All things are good in moderation, so whenever I get over to England I always like to have a full English breakfast at least one morning and some scones with jam and cream at tea time!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for the visit and comment, much appreciated.The most I ever saw on a single breakfast plate was at John Lennon airport Liverpool - they were offering 10 items in their full English!And at a reasonable price. No wonder there was a sizeable queue, with me at the end.

  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

    I believe everything is fine in moderation, and as you pointed out it's much healthier to eat fried foods at home where you can use fresh oil. We also eat a big breakfast about once a week and don't suffer any ill effects...and it's yummy! In Ireland we had a typical Irish breakfast one morning and I didn't need to eat until dinner time, I was so full! Great hub. I really enjoy your writing.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    An incredible meal the full English - whoever dreamt it up first must have had some appetite! I guess it was meant to keep you going for long hours and it certainly can do that. Like you I can cut out an afternoon meal if I have a late-ish full breakfast at the weekend. I recall a breakfast advertised with 10 different ingredients - Liverpool Airport - for 6.99!

    Those oatcakes sound good - non traditonal? Staffordshire? Intriguing.

    Appreciate you visiting.

  • Angie Jardine profile image

    Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

    Damn, now I'm hungry, chef.

    I can rarely face the full-on English breakfast but that doesn't mean I don't occasionally try :) When going B&B it will last us until dinnertime in the evening, so it's good value too.

    I'm not keen on hash browns with it - they seem laden with grease and are definitely not traditional, although I do get non-traditional Staffordshire oatcakes to go with it sometimes (they are like crepes and mop up the egg etc wonderfully).

    I'm so glad it isn't such a death trap as I thought ... many thanks!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Well done! Yes there's nothing quite like the sizzle of bacon and the splittering of eggs - in the same pan! - of course you can have the eggs poached for a slightly healthier alternative?

    Many thanks for visiting, appreciate it.

  • aethelthryth profile image

    aethelthryth 5 years ago from American Southwest

    My father-in-law ate an English breakfast almost every day of his life and had almost dangerously low cholesterol.

  • Pamspages profile image

    Pamspages 5 years ago from Virginia

    Oh no! Now I want bacon and eggs! My husband laughs when I get that craving at the oddest hour and there's nary an egg or rasher of pig in the house. My Mum used to make the full English for us my entire childhood!! I'm still alive!! :)

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Congratulations on graduating ....1500 eh? That's 38 carrots and an omelette a day or is that 38 omelettes and a carrot?

    Best of luck whatever you're on.

    Thanks again.Bye.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you donabhatt.

    ....'breakfast table everyday'...mmmmm ....you have to be careful with a full English but it is very pleasant to indulge yourself once in a little while.

    Bye for now.

  • TomBlalock profile image

    TomBlalock 5 years ago from Hickory, NC

    Oh, trust me. Resisting has become the order of the day. Getting myself back into shape now that I've graduated, so I'm on a 1500 calorie diet. I've had the fortune to have had a full English breakfast in London, actually. Mind you, it isn't any worse or better in any particular country, but there is something to be said for honoring the namesake of a thing.

  • donabhatt profile image

    donabhatt 5 years ago from Hyderabad

    Both looks and sounds yummy...For those couple who goes out for work, they can have some great time on breakfast table everyday with such nice breakfast.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thanks TomBlalock. You've obviously indulged over the years I'm guessing and downed one or two full English in your time!? The secret is not to become addicted! Know your limits....I was walking past the cafe where we usually 'breakfast' the other day and the scent of bacon and sausage frying wafted gently across the tarmac on a light spring breeze.....I resisted! But next time?

    Glad you visited. Bye for now.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks Pamela99. Yes it's not to be taken lightly this traditional fare! You need to be well prepared and surrounded with supportive friends who can keep supplying you with lots of tea and friendly chatter.....this breakfast is best followd by a long walk into the countryside!

    Appreciate your visit. Bye.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Wonderful story and context! That mysterious triangle...thanks for such entertainment ripplemaker. I'll try hard to get the votes piled up for this big breakfast - now, where's my campaign manager hiding?

    Bye bye.

  • TomBlalock profile image

    TomBlalock 5 years ago from Hickory, NC

    Mmmm, Full English Breakfast. Pure, unadulterated cholesterol. What is there not to love?

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    I never knew the English breakfast included so many food items. Very interesting hub and congrats on your nomination.

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    So this is a full English breakfast...it's funny remembering that when I was still in High school and I had a pen friend...I have always wanted to know what they had for breakfast. :)

    Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination! This way to read and vote http://koffeeklatchgals.hubpages.com/hub/Hubnugget...

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    That's the thing - it's a great meal but you have to be sensible or it'll get out of hand! We go out as a family say once every three weeks at the weekend and have a late full english with juices and tea and what not and don't have to eat again until about 3pm or so when we have a snack (with more tea of course) and appetiser ready for the meal of the day a little later on. Lovely!

    Thanks for passing by, appreciated. Bye.

  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

    Yummy! I love english breakfast but I avoid eating this everyday. At least once a month to keep my weight. Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely day!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you kelleyward. Fresh oil can make all the difference and the science behind it is sound according to all I've read. I'm glad you found the link worthwhile, I thought I'd better include it because there must be lots of folks out there in a similar situation to yourself.

    Appreciate you passing by,hope all's well.

  • profile image

    kelleyward 5 years ago

    Hi! I think the point you made about foods being healthier if fried in fresh olive oil is important. I'm a nurse and type 1 diabetic so links that provide a healthier alternative are great for people like me. Thanks for sharing this great recipe! Take care, Kelley

  • chef-de-jour profile image
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    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Appreciate that nancynurse.Thank you for the beakfast comment.

  • nancynurse profile image

    Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

    Great recipes and interesting food ideas thanks.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks to you. Yes, one breakfast is enough to last two meals! I think it's a useful ploy in these days of super consumption and squeezed pockets. Two in one with fruit in between (afternoons) and rounded off with a salady evening meal!

    I'm feeling hungry.

    Thans for passing by and voting.

    Bye for now.

  • theclevercat profile image

    Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

    Ahhh, great write-up on these full (and filling) English breakfasts. Thanks! Voted interesting.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Many thanks Angelo52. Great care needs to be taken when faced with the full English! Good hubbing to you in the meantime.

  • Angelo52 profile image

    Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

    Great article. That plate of food would last me 2 maybe 3 meals but I bet it would taste great all the times. Voted up.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Great to hear that. Smokey or lean I wonder?

  • tobusiness profile image

    Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

    It's not Sunday unless my old man can smell the bacon.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Hi Moonlake

    Many thanks. Hope you enjoyed your B&B! I think a good breakfast every so often can really get your day off to the best of starts.

    Good hubbing!

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 5 years ago from America

    Big Breakfast. Enjoyed reading about the English breakfast. Not to different from ours. Voted Up

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    OK charmike. Enjoy...go easy on the black pudding!!

  • charmike4 profile image

    Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

    Great hub chef-de-jour. I love an English breakfast, but restrict myself to just on Sundays after a big run. I also travel a lot for work and it's hard to resist bacon and eggs when on the road, but I usually do.

    I'm on holidays this week and it's 7.30am...you've just inspired me to make a full English breakfast right now! Cheers Michael