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Move over, bacon. Consumers want healthier breakfasts

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Move over, fatty breakfast sandwich. Despite the overwhelming availability of greasy bacon, syrup-heavy pancakes and sodium-laden home fries at fast-food chains and restaurants across Canada and the United States, a growing number of consumers actually desire healthier breakfast options.

A new survey released Monday by Mintel, a global market research firm, found two-thirds of American restaurant customers say they want more nutritious options when it comes to breakfast. Nearly 40 per cent of restaurant customers reported the meals at their local eateries were too unhealthy.

That's no surprise, considering a bacon and egg bagel from McDonald's has 530 calories, 26 grams of fat and 1,170 milligrams of sodium.

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A sausage and cheese breakfast sandwich from Subway contains 290 calories, 18 grams of fat and 710 milligrams of sodium. Meanwhile, a single blueberry bran muffin from Tim Hortons has 300 calories, 10 grams of fat and 25 grams of sugar. That's less than a chocolate glazed Tim Hortons donut, which contains 260 calories, 10 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar.

The survey indicates the tide toward artery-clogging, fatty breakfasts may soon turn - if restaurants choose to cater to their customers' desires.

But even if restaurant breakfasts get a much-needed makeover, consumers would be wise to check out the nutritional information before they make their picks. For instance, a much-discussed New York Times piece last week (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/how-to-make-oatmeal-wrong/) by Mark Bittman criticized McDonald's oatmeal, marketed as a "bowl full of wholesome," for being overprocessed, containing too many ingredients and having more sugar than a Snickers bar and just 10 fewer calories than a McDonald's cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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