Breakfast Makover Offers Major Benefits (page 4)
Taking a few minutes to focus on your morning meal can really make a difference in your day. With the right nutritional kick start, you’ll feel better - and think better all day long. Smart breakfast choices also offer some serious long-term health benefits. Recent studies confirm that eating breakfast helps ward off weight gain and prevent heart disease too.
“A smart breakfast is the perfect way to celebrate heart events in February,” says Jessica Grennan, state health alliances director for the American Heart Association in Montana. “American Heart Month and National Wear Red Day (Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, www.goredforwomen.org/) are designed to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke risk factors - and simple steps to reduce them. In fact, eating a balanced breakfast is one of the tastiest ways to improve your heart health.”
Recent research has confirmed the benefits of breakfast for men, women, and children. A daily bowl of whole grain cereal has been shown to help women maintain a healthy weight and to reduce the risk of heart failure in men. Based on several new studies, eggs may be back on the breakfast menu too! Healthy adults (with no history of diabetes) can enjoy one to two eggs per day without increasing their blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels. People who eat protein, like eggs, for breakfast tend to eat fewer calories during the day and to maintain a healthier weight. They also report feeling more energetic than those who just eat carbohydrates, like a pastry, some toast, or bagel.
Most Americans - 80 to 90 percent in national surveys - believe that eating breakfast is a healthy habit. “However, only 40 to 50 percent of adults are actually eating breakfast on a regular basis,” says Grennan. “For most of us, time is reported to be the biggest obstacle to eating in the morning. Fortunately, there are lots of really easy ways to beat the breakfast rush hour.”
Here are three tried-and-true tips to help you to fit a Montana breakfast into your morning routine:
* Get organized the night before. Make a family breakfast plan as you clean up from dinner. Set the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. Slice up your favorite fruit and cheese. Get out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies. Prepare the pancake batter or muffin mix, so it is all ready to cook in the morning.
* Keep breakfast real simple. Fancy breakfasts are wonderful when you have time. On busy days, rev up your metabolism with something as quick as a bowl of whole grain cereal with a banana or a slice of leftover pizza. Speaking of leftovers, nothing could be simpler than a sandwich made with a slice of meat from dinner and a piece of cheese.
* Pack your breakfast to-go. If there’s no time to eat at home, take your nutrition-to-go for a ‘desk-fast’ at work. Save time (and money) by packing both a brown-bag breakfast and lunch the night before. Busy teens can grab a banana, a bag of trail mix, and a carton (or chug) of milk. Check out the breakfast options available for kids at school, too.
“In a recent British study, skipping breakfast for just two weeks led to higher levels of artery-clogging LDL-cholesterol,” notes Ms. Grennan. “Be good to your heart, as well as your brain and waistline, and enjoy a smart breakfast every day.”
Four Tasty Ways to Enjoy Better Breakfast Bites
Based on modern science (and the wisdom of mothers through the ages), breakfast is definitely a very important meal. Research shows that breaking your overnight fast with a balanced meal can make a major difference in your overall health and well-being. Eating a smart breakfast can help improve your attitude, enhance work or school performance, foster a healthy weight, and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. On the other hand, skipping breakfast is a no-brainer – quite literally. Skip breakfast – and your brain and body suffer all day. Here’s how to eat well in the morning and get started on the nutrition fast track to a high-energy, health-smart day.
* Start with some powerful protein. The missing link in many morning meals, protein is what you need to go strong and stay focused until lunch. Go lean with protein: a slice or two of Canadian bacon, an egg, some smoked salmon, a slice of deli meat or cheese, a container of yogurt, a scoop of cottage cheese, or leftover meat from the night before. Think outside of the breakfast box - microwave a quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla with black beans or enjoy a tofu scrambler with chopped veggies and grated cheese.
* Add in longer-lasting whole grains. A high-octane carbohydrate will help energize your body and brain for a busy day. Choose whole grains for an extra nutrition punch. They have more fiber and more antioxidants, plus they tend to digest more slowly and provide longer lasting energy. Go inside the cereal box for hot (especially oatmeal and multi-grain) or cold varieties. Whole grain breads, muffins, waffles, pancakes, rolls, tortillas, or even pastas can also help you rise, shine, and rev up your metabolism.
* Get fresh with fruits (or veggies). Breakfast is a perfect time to enjoy the produce your body needs for optimal health. Go with fresh fruit - bananas, kiwi, pears, apples, mangoes, melon, oranges, grapefruit, or whatever is in season! Canned (pineapple or mandarin oranges) and frozen (blueberries and strawberries) can be used in yogurt parfaits and mixed fruit salads. Dried fruit is delicious on a bowl of cereal or in a bag of trail mix. How about chopped vegetables in an omelet or a refreshing glass of veggie juice? Looking for more ideas, check out www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/
* Rethink your morning drinks. Some of us can’t seem to get going without that morning cup of coffee or that triple, extra whip, tall mocha! While a moderate amount of caffeine is probably fine for most healthy adults (except pregnant women), many Americans are getting lots of extra calories from fancy coffee drinks. A smart choice is 8-ounces of non-fat or 1% milk: plain, blended into a smoothie, shake, or latte. Concerned about caffeine overload? Switch to decaf, herbal tea, or lower-caffeine green tea. What about breakfast bars? So-called “energy bars” are everywhere and the packages are filled with nutrition promises – to replace meals, boost energy levels, promote weight loss, and pump up your intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals. There’s no magic ‘pep’ in these bars. Their energy comes from calories, just like other foods. Some are no more than ‘souped-up’ candy bars, with lots of fat, saturated fat, and sugar. Choose bars with 10 to15 grams of protein and at least 3 grams fiber.
Reprinted with the permission of the Montana Workforce Services Division.
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