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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Importance Of Breakfast

How you feel throughout the day often depends on what, or if, you ate starting out. If you skip breakfast, odds are that you’ll end up with an aching head, moodiness, lack of brain power, and even weight gain as you eat more than you should later in the day. Besides, you lose out on the many nutrients your body gets from a good breakfast. And then there’s the flip side, where breakfast is a grab ‘n’ go option that offers little quality nutrition. Or it may be a greasy buffet that contributes more calories and saturated fat that you need in an entire day! These choices can hinder health in both the short and long run. Try these power-packed options instead. They’ll curb your hunger, fuel your body and provide essential fiber and nutrients to start your day off right.

1. Nuts

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and weight loss expert in New York, says treats like chopped walnuts or slivered almonds give you “healthy fats to provide sustained energy.” Think outside of traditional “breakfast” nuts, too. Pistachios have been shown to reduce cholesterol absorption from other foods.
How much to eat each morning? 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 2 heaping tablespoons slivered almonds, 30 pistachios, or one tablespoon nut butter.
Breakfast tip: Taub-Dix suggests adding nuts to your oatmeal or other whole grain cereal for a flavorful crunch.

2. Fruits and vegetables

“It's hard to get in all of the fruits and veggies we need if we skip them at breakfast,” says Taub-Dix. For optimal benefits, try for 10 combined servings of fruits and veggies each day, two from each color group: red, white, green, purple/blue, and yellow/orange. (Research shows that eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives you the widest possible range of nutrients.) If 10 daily servings is unrealistic, aim for at least one more fruit and veggie than you’re already getting. In addition to all the other benefits of fruits and vegetables, new research finds that eating more plant foods can help to prevent oxidative stress in the body. That’s a process linked to disease and obesity.
How much to eat each morning? At least two servings: two fruits, two veggies, or one of each.
Breakfast tip: Try what Taub-Dix does: Warm frozen raspberries in the microwave and add them to yogurt to get a high-calcium, protein-rich start. As for vegetables, enjoy sliced tomatoes in an omelet or a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread.

Read What Yogurt is Right for You?

3. Whole grains

“Whether it's a whole grain cereal or a chunky slice of whole grain bread, including these foods at breakfast will provide you with fiber as well as vitamins and minerals,” says Taub-Dix. Diets high in whole grain foods and fiber are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. And fiber can promote a feeling of fullness, which may help you reduce your total daily calorie intake.
How much to eat each morning? 1 slice whole grain bread, 1 cup whole grain cereal flakes, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, or 1 buckwheat pancake
Breakfast tip: Have a slice of whole grain toast with one tablespoon of nut butter.

4. Protein

“Adding protein helps provide sustained energy and could prevent you from feeling hungry between meals,” says Taub-Dix.
How much to eat each morning? 1 egg plus 3 egg whites, 3 ounces of lean poultry, or 3 ounces whole soy breakfast “sausage”.
Breakfast tip: You don’t always have to eat “breakfast” food at breakfast time. Think outside the box. Add tofu or cooked chicken or turkey to an omelet or burrito.

5. Tea

Whether it’s regular or decaf, Taub-Dix says, “Tea is filled with antioxidants to help boost your immune system.” But if you do want to cut down on your caffeine consumption, wean yourself off by gradually reducing the number of drinks you have, or by having a drink that is half caffeinated and half decaffeinated.
How much to drink each morning? One cup of black or green tea
Breakfast tip: Drink it hot or iced; add lemon or orange slices for extra zest.

Read 5 Stress-Busting Superfoods

As you get more used to eating these foods, you can begin coming up with your own combinations. To get you started, though, here are three sample meals that each include all five power foods:

1. Whole grain bun with egg, tomato, fresh arugula or basil, and mozzarella or soy cheese; California pistachios sprinkled on orange segments; hot black tea with an orange slice.
2. Whole wheat tortilla stuffed with shredded chicken breast (poached in unsweetened green tea!) and/or scrambled egg, sautéed bell peppers, and tomatillo salsa; smoothie made with frozen banana slices, fresh apple juice, and peanut butter.
3. Buckwheat pancake with strawberries and sliced almonds; whole soy sausage links; vanilla soy or dairy yogurt with blueberries; iced black tea with a lemon slice.

Each breakfast provides a nutrient-rich kick-start to your day … and in a deliciously satisfying way!

Source: Jackie Newgent, RD, Nutritionist