Our wonderful nutritionist/guest blogger Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN, knows how important breakfast is to jump-start our day. Today Vicki gives us some fresh ideas for healthy and satisfying breakfasts. Vicki is a registered dietitian and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods (Alpha Books/Penguin, 2011).
By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN
As the summer gets into full swing, it might be tempting to hit the beach, pool or park before eating breakfast. Think again. Research shows that the first meal of your day is essential to good health. After a good night’s sleep, your body needs proper nourishment, plus it can help keep your heart healthy, too.
In a recent study, three different breakfast patterns were studied for association with metabolic syndrome. When the typical Western-style breakfast of eggs, breads and processed meats was compared to an Asian-style one of rice, kimchi (fermented cabbage) and vegetables, and a plant-based one of potatoes, fruit and nuts – the Western breakfast proved to be the worst on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the waistline.
Avoid that low-energy feeling or achy head that hits around 10 am because you skipped breakfast. Balance carbs, protein and healthful fats in the morning with a combo of:
Whole grains – aim for at least 3 (1-oz) servings of whole grains per day. Not only do they keep cholesterol levels in check and your heart healthy, but they help you feel full faster and longer. Daily fiber recommendations for adults are 14 grams per 1,000 calories.
High-fiber breakfast must-haves:
- Oatmeal – 1 cup of cooked oats provides about 4 grams of fiber.
- Whole grain cereals – with 8 -10 grams of fiber per serving, this is more than 1/3 of the dietary fiber you need for the day. Try Kashi Go-Lean, Heart to Heart or Autumn Wheat.
- Whole grain bread – you can get 10 grams of fiber in 2 pieces of high-fiber toast.
Fruit and veggies – chock full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Aim for at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of veggies a day. Chop, slice, dice and puree – whatever way you choose, eat the whole fruit and vegetable for the best nutritional benefits.
Fruit and veggie breakfast additions:
- Sprinkle diced apple over oatmeal
- Add pineapple chunks to plain low fat yogurt
- Drizzle pureed strawberries over whole wheat pancakes
- Top cold cereal with fresh blueberries
- Make a veggie wrap with diced tomatoes, greens and cucumbers
- Throw diced peppers, onions and mushrooms in an omelet
- Toss spinach into a fruit smoothie
Protein – fires up your muscles in the morning. Use plant-based protein (whole grains, tofu, nuts or seeds), lean poultry or meat (turkey/chicken breast or lean beef), and fish (salmon, tuna or halibut) to start your day.
Protein power in the morning:
- Scoop some protein powder into a shake
- Scramble up a vegetable omelet
- Wrap turkey with a slice of low-fat cheese into a whole wheat tortilla
- Brown chicken sausage with whole grain toast
- Nut butter smeared on whole grain bread
Fat – allows fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K plus carotenoids) to absorb in your body as well as provide sustainable energy for the morning. The type of fat matters – new research is showing that up to 40% of calories should come from fat, but the heart-healthy, unsaturated fats.
Fantastic fat for a morning boost:
- Olive oil, walnuts, almonds, avocado. Watch serving sizes as fats are high in calories.
- 1 serving = 1 tbsp. olive oil = 120 calories
- 1 oz. walnuts (7) = 170 calories
- 1 oz. (23) almonds = 160 calories
- 1/5 avocado = 50 calories