"The most important meal of the day.” We’ve all heard the saying and while it can be true, if we choose sugar-filled or otherwise unhealthy choices, we may be better off skipping this meal. Often, one small healthy choice can lead to more. Follow along as we look at a few healthy options that will start your day on the right foot.
Eggs – Eggs contain dietary cholesterol which has long been considered unhealthy. However, studies show that eggs do not raise cholesterol levels in most people. In fact, whole eggs have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Egg yolks also contain powerful antioxidants that help prevent eye disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration. They are also one of the best sources of a nutrient called choline, which is important for brain and liver health.
One large egg contains:
It is important to note that the yolks of the eggs contain the majority of the nutrients. Be sure to enjoy whole eggs, preferably ones that are pastured (free-range) or omega-3 enriched.
Studies also show that adults that enjoy eggs for breakfast feel fuller longer and eat fewer calories during the day.
Tip - Try chopping fresh vegetables the night before and quickly crafting a delicious and nutritious omelet in the morning. On the go? Try hard-boiled eggs for an easy breakfast on the run.
Greek Yogurt – Thick and creamy, Greek yogurt packs more protein than its traditional counterpart.
While the specific nutrition can vary depending on the brand, typically an average serving will contain 12-17 grams of protein.
Always look for Greek yogurt that mentions that it contains “live and active cultures” to ensure you are getting the benefits of probiotics. These healthy bacteria can help support gut health. To read more about probiotics & prebiotics, click here.
Greek yogurt also contains potassium, vitamin B12 and is high in calcium.
Tip - Make sure you check the label as some can be packed with sugar. Instead, try topping Greek yogurt with fresh berries, a drizzle of honey and a few of your favorite nuts. For a nutrition bonus, try adding 2 tbsp. of soaked chia seeds for a great fiber boost with added protein!
Oatmeal – A go-to breakfast for many people, oatmeal can be great for you! There are several types of oatmeal including instant, rolled and steel-cut. Steel cut oats are the most unprocessed variety and maintain their texture, although they take longer to cook. Instant oats cook very quickly but can be soft and more porridge-like in texture.
Regardless of the variety you choose, they all contain a fiber called beta-glucan. This type of fiber helps to keep you feeling full and helps reduce overall cholesterol levels.
Oats are also rich in antioxidants which have been shown to help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the body’s production of a gas molecule known as nitric oxide.
Oats are also loaded with many vitamins and minerals essential to overall health.
The healthiest way to enjoy oats is by buying unflavored varieties and preparing them yourself. Often, the prepackaged flavors are loaded with added sugars.
Tip - Try adding sliced apple, ground cinnamon, freshly grated ginger to your oats prior to cooking. Top with a drizzle of honey and your favorite nuts for a delicious guilt-free “apple pie” inspired breakfast. Substitute water with milk, or serve with a side of eggs to up the protein content.
Chia Seeds – For their size, chia seeds are one of the best sources of fiber. In just one ounce, there is more than 11 grams of fiber! And even better, the viscous fiber in chia seeds helps increase the volume of food moving through your digestive system which can help you feel full longer.
In addition to high fiber content, they are also high in antioxidants which help fight free radical damage and also help keep the seeds from going rancid.
Chia seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
The best part, 1 ounce of chia seeds is only about 2 tbsp and is very easy to add into your diet!
Tip - While chia seeds contain some protein, you can amp up the nutrition by making a high-protein chia seed pudding. Try mixing 1-ounce dry chia seeds with 1 cup coconut, almond or skim milk. Add 1 scoop of whey protein and a half cup of berries. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Important note, chia seeds absorb water to form a gel and eating dry chia seeds can cause stomach upset and digestive distress. Always allow your chia seeds to soak before consuming.
Cottage Cheese – A wonderful option for breakfast, cottage cheese is high in protein. This helps keep you feeling full and can increase your metabolism. In fact, over 70% of the calories in cottage cheese comes from protein!
Cottage cheese also contains impressive levels of phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, calcium, folate and riboflavin.
Tip – try adding nuts, berries or sliced fruit to make it more nutritious. You can also blend it into smoothies or add it to scrambled eggs for a creamy texture.
Fruit, Nuts & Flaxseeds – These three nutritious options are excellent additions to most breakfast options.
Berries are lower in sugar and higher in fiber than most other fruits. They contain high levels of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.
Nuts are filling and can help prevent weight gain. Most nuts are high in magnesium, potassium and good-for-you monounsaturated fats.
Flaxseeds are high in viscous fiber which helps keep you feeling full and contain antioxidants and protein.
Tip - All 3 of these add-in options are a great way to add flavor and ramp-up the nutrition in your breakfast. Try adding them to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal or smoothies!
Breakfast sets the tone for your day. Enjoying a healthy, protein-rich breakfast can help keep you full, energized and feeling great! A little planning the night before can also set you up for success in the morning. Try pre-boiling hard-boiled eggs, chopping veggies for omelets, mixing chia pudding to refrigerate overnight or simply set your alarm for just a few minutes early, to help ensure you have time to enjoy a healthy breakfast.
“There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.” – Peter A. Cohen
Written by S. Campbell for Access Health Care Physicians, LLC.
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