It’s National Breakfast Month and we have a “public service announcement” on healthy breakfasts. You’ve heard it before, but if you’re not convinced that you’re eating the best breakfast you can, read on.
More than 100 studies have linked eating breakfast with a reduced risk of obesity (and other health benefits, including diabetes and heart disease) and a mental edge—enhanced memory, attention, the speed of processing information, reasoning, creativity, learning, and verbal abilities.
Just be sure that you don’t blow your entire daily quota of added sugar on breakfast (more about this in a minute).
Healthcare professionals recommend a breakfast that combines good carbs and fiber with some protein. On the list:
Cottage cheese: Enjoy it plain (try some cinnamon or cracked pepper), with fruit, yogurt, or as a bread spread.
Eggs: A good source of protein, research has shown that the cholesterol in the yolks has less of an impact on blood cholesterol than previously thought. You can buy peeled, hard-boiled eggs for grab-and-go, or make your own. We poach eggs in the microwave in under a minute (the technique is below).
Cold cereal: Bran or whole-grain cereals (such as shredded wheat) are your best bet. Look for a product with less than 5 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber.
Fruit: Add bananas, berries, dried fruit, grapefruit, melon or other favorite. Enjoy it with cottage cheese and/or plain yogurt.
Don’t buy pre-sweetened cereals. Add your own sugar, honey or noncaloric sweetener, so you can control the amount. Photo courtesy Zulka.
Greek yogurt: It has nearly twice as much protein as regular yogurt. Instead of sugar-laden flavors, add fruit and a light sprinkling of sugar, honey or noncaloric sweetener to plain, nonfat yogurt.
Oatmeal: Ideally, make steel-cut oats, which contain more fiber than rolled or instant oats. They take longer, but you can prepare a large batch and reheat individual portions each morning. Any type of oatmeal except the flavored ones is a better-for-you choice. Avoid flavored varieties, which are packed with sugar. Instead, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar or a bit of honey on plain oatmeal, and add fruit for natural sweetness (plus nuts for added protein).
Peanut Butter or almond butter: These are excellent sources of protein. Spread them on whole grain bread.
Spreads: Butter and jam just add empty fat and calories. If you need a bread spread, consider almond butter, peanut butter, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
Whole grain bread: This is an easy switch. Whole grains products—in bagels, bread, crackers, English muffins, whatever—contain more fiber and nutrients than refined, white flour products.
Healthful add ons:
Sprinkle your cereal, cottage cheese or yogurt with wheat germ or ground flaxseed.
Add a banana—a healthful carbohydrate that keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Too much sugar is hidden in processed foods.
Read the nutrition label! Photo courtesy
Many people don’t realize how much sugar is hidden in processed foods. The nutrition labels can be eye opening. A can of soda may contain up to 10 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar—more than your entire daily recommended discretionary sugar intake! A tablespoon of ketchup has 1 teaspoon of sugar.
“Sugar” includes all caloric sweeteners: brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasses, syrup, table sugar, etc. (here are the different types of sugar).
The American Heart Association, the World Health Organization and other bodies recommend limiting sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance:
Women: no more than 100 calories per day—about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams
Men: no more than 150 calories per day—about 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams
The shocker: You can ingest that amount of sugar in one bowl of sweetened breakfast cereal!
These guidelines are from Consumer Reports, which profiles healthy breakfast foods in its October issue.
What To Look For In A Cereal
5 grams or more of fiber
No more than 3 grams of fat
No more than 8 grams of sugar
No more than 140 milligrams of sodium
20 grams or less of sugar per serving
Those that supply at least 15 percent of the daily value of calcium
If fat intake is a concern, low- or nonfat product when possible
What To Look For In A Yogurt
HOW TO MAKE POACHED EGGS IN THE MICROWAVE
You can use a microwave egg poacher or simply a bowl of water:
Fill a 1-cup microwaveable bowl or teacup with 1/2 cup water. Add the cracked egg.
Cover with a saucer and microwave on high for about 1 minute, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny.
Remove with a slotted spoon.