Many people think skipping breakfast is one way to lose weight, or it’s all right for kids to go to school with only sugar-laden cereals as their nutrition. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. If you’re one of those people, then it’s time for a radical rethinking of your ancient, erroneous ideas.
Eating a healthy breakfast gives you a good head start on your day by providing you with the energy to function optimally and perform your daily activities. It also staves off inappropriate hunger and sugary cravings, which adds pounds to your weight and makes you feel sluggish throughout the day.
It’s all very well to talk about eating healthy breakfasts but the truth is, many people are confused over what constitutes healthy and what isn’t. A typical American breakfast conjures up images of bacon and sausages, sunny side ups, hash browns and toasts, all in supersize portions. There are better alternatives to these fat-rich and processed breakfast food though.
A good breakfast is one that provides you with the essential nutrients that promote cognitive function and enhance productivity. It should have a balanced serving of carbohydrates, protein and fiber for energy and maintenance of bodily tissues to create the glow that exudes from your aura when you take good care of yourself.
The common notion that carbohydrates are harmful have made some people abstain from them totally, thus depriving themselves of essential nutrients that good carbs can give.
Carbohydrates are basically classified into two types: the simple or bad carbs, and the complex, or the good carbs. An easy way to differentiate the good from the bad is, the brown ones are good and the white ones are bad. So it’s whole-grain bread and brown rice versus white bread and white rice. Another criterion for healthy carbs is a low glycemic index. They have a sustained-release energy that is spread out over the morning and keeps you feeling sated until lunchtime.
Examples of healthy carb foods you can include in your breakfast are oatmeal, whole grain toast, starchy vegetables, brown rice, fruits and the right kind of cereals.
Fruits supply the carbohydrate, vitamin and fiber needs for breakfast. They are generally low in calories and fats; a daily serving of two or more cups a day can prevent coronary heart disease and other chronic illnesses. They also help prevent obesity and aid in digestion in addition to keeping cholesterol and sugar levels within normal limits.
Having whole fruits or fruit juices for breakfast is a good start to your day. You can make fresh fruit salad by mixing cut up apples, grapes, bananas, melons and any of your favorite fruits and adding a little lemon juice. Or you can add blueberries or strawberries to cereal for the kids or make a smoothie.
Cereals belong to the carbohydrates group. They come in various mixes, so make sure you read the label on the box and not get fooled by the hype in front, as the back of the box has to follow a standard format. Here are what to look for when reading cereal labels:
- The word “whole” or “whole grain” must be in the first ingredient. It may be “whole oats,” “whole wheat,” “whole barley,” etc. Don’t buy the ones that say “refined” and be careful if it says “Made from whole...” because it’s just flour made from grain.
- The sugar content must be only 2-3 grams per serving. Many brands of cereals contain up to 10 grams to lure the children into liking them. If sugar is listed in the first to third ingredients, that means it’s a major component of the cereal and should be avoided.
- Cereals are a source of fiber, folic acid, zinc, iron, calcium and vitamins B and C. Adding fruits to them can make them tastier and healthier, too. Cereals can make up the carbohydrate content in your breakfast, along with bread, beans, oatmeals and fruits.
Proteins are large biological molecules that perform many essential functions in the human body - among them: structural components, immunological responses, enzymatic activities and transport of chemical compounds, including hemoglobin and oxygen.
Healthy proteins for breakfast are those that are low in saturated fat. These heart-healthy protein sources are vegetables, seafood, poultry, milk and eggs. Here are good protein choices you can include for a healthful and fulfilling breakfast:
- Milk. Milk is high in calcium, and most milk products are fortified with vitamins A and D. Milk promotes strong bones and teeth and helps prevent osteoporosis. Choose the low-fat type or skim milk and go for plant-based milk such as soy and rice if you are lactose intolerant.
- Beans and Nuts. Proteins from plant products like nuts and beans contain unsaturated fats that help lower the risks for cardiovascular diseases by lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising good cholesterol (HDL). Other nutrients found in beans and nuts are arginine, which promotes blood flow, potassium, folic acid, vitamin E and antioxidants. These protein foods are also rich in fiber, which aid in digestion and elimination of toxic wastes.
- Eggs. Eggs are a breakfast staple and a nutritious source of protein. After a bad round of publicity and new studies that contradict it, the American Heart Association has given the go-signal to eat eggs as often as once a day for healthy, normal people. A more wholesome option is to eat eggs hard-boiled or poached. Eggs are low in calories and aside from the vitamins and minerals they contain, they are rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that help combat blindness due to aging. The choline in eggs also promotes cognitive function and memory retention.
- Protein from Animals. Healthy proteins that come from animals are seafood, chicken breast without the skin, lean beef and pork tenderloin since they have lower saturated fats than the meat with fats. Fish like salmon are better because they have omega 3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. For breakfast, serve bacon and sausages that are made from lean meat or the kind that are made from chicken and tuna.
Knowing what types of food are healthy to serve for breakfast will benefit you immediately and in the long run. Whether at play or work, the nutrients you get from a healthy breakfast will make you function better; moreover, aging comes gracefully when you are free from degenerative chronic diseases that beset other senior people.
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