You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Now we know that is more than just conventional wisdom. According to a statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), infrequent breakfast consumption has been associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease—specifically a greater risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
Need more reasons to start the day with breakfast? Eating a healthy breakfast refuels your body, jumpstarts your day, and may even benefit your overall health. In fact, Mayo Clinic study says that adults who report regularly eating a healthy breakfast are more likely to:
- Eat more vitamins and minerals
- Control their weight (Research suggests that consuming most of your daily calories in the morning can aid weight loss.)
- Control their blood sugar levels (This is particularly important in preventing or controlling diabetes.)
- Eat less fat and cholesterol
- Perform better at work, and going about their daily routine
So, what exactly is a healthy breakfast?
While it’s tempting to opt for a quick bowl of sweetened cereal or a yummy donut, those sweet treats should be the exception, not the rule. You might get a quick burst of energy from those sweets, but there are virtually no healthy benefits from eating a donut.
Instead, opt for a balanced breakfast including a mix of the following items:
- Whole grains: Whole grain bagel, hot or cold whole grain cereal, whole grain English muffin or whole grain waffles
- Lean protein: Eggs, lean meat, legumes, and nuts
- Low-fat dairy: Low-fat Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese (Note that Greek yogurt has up to double the protein and significantly less sugar compared to regular yogurt.)
- Fruits and vegetables: Fresh or frozen varieties, 100% juice drinks with no added sugar, and fruit/vegetable smoothies
Try to choose items from at least three of these four food groups—giving you a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and a small amount of fat. That combination will not only provide health benefits, but also help you feel full for hours.
A note about breakfast cereals
Some cereal choices are good for you, but many are not. Always read the label, and consider these key items when choosing cereal:
- Fiber: Choose cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber in each serving.
- Sugar: Focus on cereals marketed to adults, which are usually lower in sugar than cereals aimed at children. Avoid cereals that list sugar at or near the top of the ingredient list, or that list multiple types of added sugar, such as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, and dextrose.
- Calories: If you’re counting calories, look for cereals that total less than 160 calories per serving.
Want to make your bowl of cereal healthier? Top it off with some sliced fresh fruit and serve with low-fat or skim milk. Remember, breakfast doesn’t have to be time-consuming to be healthy.
The head chef at Sierra Winds works with dietitians to make sure all menus offer a healthy selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, protein, fiber, and whole grains. To learn more about the healthy menu options at Sierra Winds, call (623) 977-0807 for a tour and complimentary lunch in the Sierra Bistro.