Metabolic syndrome (aka insulin resistance syndrome) is a cluster of health conditions, including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, high triglycerides and elevated blood sugar levels, per the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

According to the NHLBI, having metabolic syndrome is quite common in the United States, with approximately 1 in every 3 adults having this condition. Those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other serious health concerns. So, finding ways to manage this condition can be of the utmost importance.

Rosmy Barrios, M.D., medical advisor for Health Reporter, explains that, for those with metabolic syndrome, it is generally recommended to eat “more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, beans and nuts, while cutting down on red meat and sugary drink.” And according to a 2020 review in Nutrients, these food choices may help you experience better health outcomes, like less chronic inflammation, better blood sugar control and a healthy weight—ultimately helping you reduce the risk of developing the aforementioned chronic conditions.

If you have metabolic syndrome and are wondering what you should eat as the first meal of the day, we have you covered. We reviewed lots of breakfast options and found one of the best choices that can help support your condition.

What to Look For in a Breakfast for Metabolic Syndrome

Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day by experts in the medical field. Some data, including a 2021 article in Medicine, suggest that a regular daily breakfast habit may be linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and stroke.

If you have metabolic syndrome, here are some nutrients that should be included in your breakfast to help support your health.

Lean Protein

Protein is one of the three macronutrients your body needs to thrive. And while it tends to have a prominent place on lunch and dinner plates, it’s sometimes skipped at breakfast. Protein helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and, therefore, helps the body release glucose from the bloodstream more slowly. Ultimately, this helps your body manage blood sugar levels while preventing spikes in blood sugar and insulin, per a 2022 study in Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome.


Fiber is type of indigestible carbohydrate that’s perhaps best known for its ability to support gut health. But, like protein, fiber slows digestion, supporting healthy blood glucose management. Additionally, fiber promotes satiety, which may, in turn, help support weight-management goals.

Healthy Fats

Since metabolic syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, it is important to include nutrients that support heart health. Data published in Nutrients in 2019 showed that replacing carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fat lowered triglycerides, increased HDL (known as good) cholesterol and lowered blood pressure among subjects with metabolic syndrome. Additionally, interventions with monounsaturated fat resulted in lower fasting insulin and glucose levels.

Low in Sodium

Limiting sodium intake is generally recommended among this population. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, and an ideal limit of less than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, especially those with high blood pressure. So keep this limit in mind as you navigate your breakfast choices (or any food choices!).

Low in Added Sugar

Excessive quantities of added sugar may put you at an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and other negative health outcomes associated with metabolic syndrome. This is why Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD, an integrative and functional medicine dietitian specializing in women’s health and hormones, emphasizes the need for people with metabolic syndrome to limit their added sugar intake and instead rely on foods that are naturally sweet, like fruits and unsweetened dairy.

The Best Breakfast for Metabolic Syndrome

There is no doubt that eating breakfast can be a beneficial part of your diet if you have metabolic syndrome. “For people with metabolic syndrome, it’s ideal to choose meals with a balance of protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats with a moderate amount of sodium and minimal added sugars,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., RDN, a registered dietitian and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.

Among the many breakfast choices out there, one of the best options for those with metabolic syndrome may be our Pistachio and Peach Toast (double the portion for a satisfying breakfast).

This simple recipe features ingredients that check all of the boxes when it comes to the nutrients people with metabolic syndrome should consume at mealtime.

  • Whole-Wheat Bread: Provides energizing carbs, satiating fiber and a slew of micronutrients. Data published in Nutrients in 2020 showed that eating bread and drinking coffee at breakfast time was associated with significantly lower proportions of metabolic syndrome.
  • Pistachios: Pistachios are packed with protein, making them a great alternative for those looking to eat more plant-based foods. Data published in 2022 in Nutrition Review showed consuming pistachios resulted in positive outcomes when evaluating components of metabolic syndrome. Specifically, pistachio intake was linked to significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, triglycerides and fasting blood glucose, and increased HDL levels. The results of this research show that pistachio consumption could improve some metabolic syndrome components naturally.
  • Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese: Cheese provides an additional boost of high-quality protein, an important factor in a metabolic-syndrome-supporting diet. Cheese is also a well-known source of calcium, magnesium and potassium—three nutrients that are emphasized in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, or the DASH diet. This eating pattern is often recommended to help support healthy blood pressure, which can be beneficial for those with metabolic syndrome.
  • Peaches: Fruit provides natural sweetness with no added sugars, fiber and many other micronutrients. A review published in 2015 in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition showed that among those with metabolic syndrome, fruit consumption is linked to a reduction in diastolic blood pressure.
  • Cinnamon: The sprinkle of cinnamon in this recipe may do more for your body than just provide a boost of spicy flavor. Cinnamon is a spice that may support healthy blood sugar balance and heart health by decreasing cholesterol and fatty acid absorption in the gut, per a 2022 article in Nutrients. While this recipe doesn’t call for a clinical dose of cinnamon, it does provide some, which may support your overall health, especially if you also include cinnamon in other parts of your diet.

The Bottom Line

Breakfast is an important meal for everyone. But this notion especially holds true for those with metabolic syndrome.

Starting your day with a nutrient-dense breakfast that checks all of the important boxes may positively impact your health and help you manage your condition. Plus, it may provide additional protection against other conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, and you may feel more energized afterward, too!

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