Do You Eat a Healthy Breakfast?

You probably remember occasions when you did not have time to eat breakfast. By 10:30, you were ravenously hungry and grabbed a pastry out of the snack machine at work.

For some people, skipping breakfast is routine. Some think it saves them calories.

Studies show, however, that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip the first meal of the day.

One reason is that breakfast eaters set and maintain a stable metabolism, avoiding the tendency to overeat later in the day. Breakfast eaters may also tend to follow a healthy lifestyle, making healthier choices about diet and exercise.

So what is a healthy breakfast? Most nutritionists recommend a breakfast that contains protein, whole grain and fiber, along with at least a little fat to get your fat metabolism started for the day.

Protein blunts your hunger and whole grains have the staying power to keep you going through the morning. Too many refined carbohydrates or sugar will cause a rebound effect that will leave you hungry for a snack by mid-morning.

BACON AND EGGS? One traditional American breakfast, whether at home or on a restaurant menu, includes eggs, bacon or sausage and toast. Actually, that's not a bad choice since it contains high quality protein from the eggs, whole grains and fiber from the toast (if you choose a whole grain option)...and a little bit of fat.

Bacon and sausage are high in saturated fat and sodium. And most cured meats are high in nitrates, preservatives that, if eaten regularly can increase the risk of cancer. There are nitrate-free versions of both available on the market. And Canadian bacon is a lower fat option.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity [March 30, 2010] found that mice fed higher quantities of fat in the morning had better metabolic profiles than those fed more carbohydrate-rich diets just after waking. There is a catch, though: the high-fat breakfast eaters who maintained their weight were given a low-fat, low-calorie evening meal.

PORRIDGE, MUESLI, GRANOLA, CORN FLAKES: If you remember your fairy tales, you know that porridge (also known as hot cereal) has been a traditional breakfast for hundreds of years. Porridge can be made from any grain, most commonly barley in olden times and oat meal today.

Ferdinand Schumacher, a German immigrant to Akron, Ohio, started milling oats with a hand grinder and in 1854 started what became the Quaker Oats company. Old fashioned Quaker Oats still provide 100 percent whole grain. And other whole grain cereals are readily available. Pre-packaged oatmeal, though, usually contains more sugar than you need in the morning...or any other time.

Oat meal is particularly high in the type of fiber that lowers cholesterol, and it has other healthy nutrients such as potassium, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Top a bowl with some berries, banana or other fruit and milk, and you have an excellent breakfast, rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Muesli, developed around 1900 by a Swiss physician, uses uncooked rolled oats plus dried fruit and nuts. You can buy it in most health-oriented stores; or you can make your own.

You can make your own granola as well by toasting some rolled oats in the oven along with a little oil, honey or maple syrup plus dried fruits, raisins, nuts and any other ingredient you'd like.

In 1866, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a Seventh Day Adventist, established a health sanitarium advocating fresh air, exercise and a vegetarian diet. Prominent figures from around the world came to eat granola and other cereals, including the corn flakes that were patented by Dr. Kellogg and his brother, W.K. Kellogg.

It was not until the introduction of puffed cereals in the 1930s that manufacturers started targeting children--removing the fiber (which at the time was considered bad for digestion) and adding sugar to appeal to children. Some cereals today are more than 50 percent sugar by weight, but that should not relegate all cereal breakfasts to the junk heap.

If you want a healthy ready-to-eat cereal, look for: less than 5 grams of sugar per serving; more than five grams of fiber; and whole grain at the top of the ingredient list.

COFFEE, TEA: As Adventists, the Kellogg brothers were opposed to consuming coffee and tea. But both coffee and tea have numerous antioxidants and health benefits.

A quick cup of coffee or tea is not good enough, though. Choose a healthy breakfast that appeals to you, and take a few minutes to sit down and eat it.

This information was submitted by Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury and is meant to complement, not replace, the advice and care you receive from your health care provider.

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