Breakfast, The Start to a Healthy Day
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day to maintain your overall health. Starting the day with the right foods and avoiding unhealthy processed foods are the first steps to providing your body with the energy and nutrition you need.
When you make healthy food choices, you set the tone for the rest of the day. Have you ever caved in to a cheeseburger and fries for lunch after a breakfast of donuts? Fueling your body with enough of the right foods stops cravings in their tracks. Skipping breakfast or eating high-sugar foods in the morning can leave you ravenous by lunch and choosing the wrong foods.
Conversely, with proper planning, breakfast provides a chance to include nutrient-rich foods in your daily diet. Which foods and drinks provide the most benefits for a healthy body and which should you keep off your plate?
Let’s take a look at how breakfast boosts health, as well as the risks of the standard American breakfast. We’re also sharing 4 ideas for breakfast you won’t want to skip.
Breakfast Like a King
Famed author and nutritionist Adelle Davis used to advise, “Eat breakfast like a king; eat lunch like a prince; eat dinner like a pauper.” Although many schedules aren’t conducive to eating our largest meal as we rush off to the office or school, it’s important for your overall health and your skin to include a balanced breakfast in your morning routine.
An ideal breakfast should keep you satisfied and energized all morning. You should combine whole grains with protein, along with some healthy fats, fruits and/or vegetables, and water for hydration. Follow these tips for a healthy breakfast.
Boost the Fiber
The American Heart Association suggests including between 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Fiber is not only important to maintain a healthy digestive system but also significantly lowers the risk of developed heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Aim to include both soluble and insoluble fiber each day, starting with your morning meal. Soluble fiber, which absorbs water during digestion, include fruits, vegetables, legumes, oats, barley, and oat bran. Insoluble fiber remains unchanged during digestion and can be found in whole grain products, rolled oats, and brown rice.
High Fiber Breakfast Ideas
Avocado toast: One medium avocado has 12 grams of fiber. Add 2 to 3 additional grams by using whole grain bread.
Flaxseed Oatmeal: Pump up oatmeal’s 4 grams of soluble fiber by adding 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal (3.8 grams of fiber) and berries.
Almond Butter Smoothie: Blend frozen banana and blueberries with almond butter, unsweetened almond milk, flaxseed meal, and Chia seeds. This breakfast in a glass has 6.6 grams of fiber.
Bring on the Protein
One of the key functions of protein is to help your body repair tissues. When you eat an egg or salmon, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which are needed to form new body tissue, hormones, enzymes, and blood cells.
How does this impact your health? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, whether animal- or plant-based, protein functions as a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. The B vitamins in protein help the cells release energy from food, support the nervous system, form red blood cells, and build tissues.
Nutrients such as magnesium, iron, and zinc found in protein-containing foods help with various body functions, including respiration and metabolism.
Aim for about 15 grams of protein in your morning meal. Include foods like eggs, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt. Add collagen peptides to your morning coffee or smoothie. And think out of the box with leftover salmon or chicken.
Don’t Forget Fruits and Veggies
Breakfast is an ideal time to add fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need. Include orange and yellow foods like sweet potatoes or yellow peppers for beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A to support vision, skin, bones, and other tissues.
A small glass of OJ, half a grapefruit, or a cup of berries is a great way to incorporate vitamin C, which protects cells from free radical damage associated with numerous chronic health conditions. Kale is nature’s multivitamin, packed with vitamins A and C.
Add Healthy Fats
Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, avocado, and sunflower seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E, which reduce risk factors for heart disease and act as an anti-inflammatory. Don’t forget to to include Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and other fatty fish, as well as chia seeds and walnuts. These fatty acids protect against chronic inflammation.
What Not to Eat or Drink for a Healthy Body
Now, you know what to include in a healthy breakfast but what foods and drinks should you avoid for a healthy body?
Skip the Sugar
The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugar to 5 percent of your daily caloric intake. This works out to about 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar per day. To keep things in perspective, an average packaged muffin can contain over 30 grams of sugar and a serving of instant flavored hot cereal contains about 15 grams.
Excess sugar consumption has been associated with increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, acne, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and depression. Sugar-sweetened beverages in particular are associated with increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
When you eat too much sugar, you end up with harmful molecules known as advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) that lead to the breakdown of collagen and premature aging of the skin.
Look for cereal with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. Blend smoothies at home with lower sugar ingredients like berries, kiwi, avocado, and green apple. Use no-sugar added nut milk instead of sweetened varieties in drinks or cereal. Top plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit instead of choosing presweetened flavors.
Don’t Bring Home the Bacon (or White Bread)
While your body needs carbohydrates rich in fiber and nutrients, avoid highly refined carbohydrates like bagels, English muffins, and low-fiber, sweetened cereal. Stripped of fiber these carbohydrates are absorbed quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar, which can leave you irritable and hungry. A diet high in refined carbs is also associated with weight gain.
Bacon and other processed meats, such sausage, ham, and smoked meat, may increase risk of many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and bowel and stomach cancer.
Say No to Margarine
While you should include healthy fats in your breakfast, leave margarine, corn, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils on the shelf. Margarine and vegetable oils are Omega-6 fatty acids. While Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, Omega-6 fatty acids promote chronic inflammation. The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-1 fatty acids is 1:1 but the typical western diet has a ratio as high as 20:1, with far too much Omega-6.
To limit Omega-6 fatty acids in your breakfast, top toast with nut butter and use a cooking spray or clarified butter (ghee) to saute eggs.
4 Healthy Breakfast Ideas
While it might be tempting to grab a sugary coffee drink and a donut or a granola bar on the way to work, preparing one of these recipes is far better for your health.
Frittata with Smoked Salmon: Saute diced sweet potatoes in olive oil. Add diced onion and saute till translucent before adding baby kale to wilt. Sprinkle smoked salmon over vegetable mixture. Whisk eggs with salt, pepper, and dill. Pour over vegetable/salmon mixture and rest on medium heat before placing under broiler for 4 to 5 minutes until set.
Sweet Potato Avocado Toast: Slice sweet potato lengthwise into ¼ inch planks and place in toaster for 5 minutes or until cooked through. While toasting, mash avocado in a bowl with 2 garlic cloves, minced, and ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved. Stir to combine and top sweet potato toasts with avocado mixture.
Glowing Greek Yogurt Parfait: Top plain Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds and walnuts.
Blueberry Almond Overnight Oats: Prep breakfast the night before by combining in a sealed container: ½ cup rolled oats, ¼ cup chia seeds, 1 cup water or nut milk, pinch of salt and cinnamon, 1 cup berries, and maple syrup to taste. Before serving, top with slivered almonds and half a sliced banana.
The Bottom Line
Starting the day with breakfast provides numerous benefits to your overall health The foods and drinks you choose for breakfast, however, can make or break your quest for optimal health. Avoid high-sugar foods in favor of dishes with antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, as well as protein from eggs, salmon, Greek yogurt, and other sources to boosta healthy body and skin.
Another way to boost your health is with LiveWell Nutrition supplements. Formulated with the highest quality natural ingredients, all products are free from synthetic fillers, artificial ingredients, and preservatives.
Other Reading: The Difference Between Vitamins and Supplements