The Most Important Meal of The Day

breakfast

You’ve heard it before, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but have you ever been told why?

Eating a healthy breakfast has been liked to increased insulin sensitivity, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Need more proof? Infrequent consumption of breakfast has been shown to increase risk of diabetes by 28%in women compared to women who consume breakfast daily. Daily breakfast consumers have lower rates of diabetes, abdominal obesity, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension than people who eat breakfast three times a week or less.

But what you eat for breakfast matters. A healthy breakfast should include:

  • Whole grains. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Read the nutrition label; many cereals are made with refined grains which can cause your blood sugar to spike
  • Lean Protein. This will fill you up for the day, without increasing your cholesterol levels. Think egg white omelet or 4 oz of plain nonfat Greet yogurt.
  • Fiber. Fiber is the non digestible component of plant food; it lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Women shoot for 21-25g fiber per day, 30-38g fiber per day for men. Adding a Tbsp of Flax seed to your whole grain cereal is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
  • Low Sugar. Many cold cereals are preloaded with sugar. Look at the nutrition facts on the side of the cereals box and try to stick to no more than 5g of sugar per serving.
  • Low Sodium. Aim for a cereal with no more than 200mg of sodium per serving. If you’re going for a savory dish, try adding non-sodium spices or fresh herbs to increase the flavor of your dish.
  • Low Calories. Look for cereals with less than 150 calories per serving, and use a measuring cup when serving yourself. Many cereals bowls are larger than the average serving.

coffee

Like your morning coffee? Moderate Coffee consumptions has been associated with lower coronary artery calcium scores and could therefore be inversely related to cardiovascular disease. So enjoy your cup or morning coffee! Just stay away from artificial sweeteners, added sugar or cream. If you don’t like your coffee black, try adding unsweetened almond milk and a dash of cinnamon.

Read Here for 56 Cheap and Healthy Breakfast Options. 

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Sugar: It’s What’s for Breakfast

When I talk to my patients about sugar consumption, the biggest problem seems to be breakfast. Many of my patients don’t even realize how much sugar they are consuming in the morning because they believe the cereals and yogurts they are choosing are “healthy” foods. Here’s a breakdown of the amount of sugar in some popular breakfast cereals, oatmeals and yogurts:

Name Brand- Cereals                                                     Grams of Sugar Per Serving

Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Apples & Cinnamon Flavor                  12g

Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch                                                        20g 

Kellogg’s Smart Start Healthy Heart Cereal                                  17g 

Kellogg’s Corn Pops                                                                     14g

Name Brand- Yogurts                                                     Grams of Sugar Per Serving

Yoplait Mixed Berry Yogurt                                                            26g 

Yoplait Whips Lemon Burst Yogurt                                                21g

Yoplait Light Harvest Peach Yogurt                                                10g 

Dannon Fruit on the Bottom, Raspberry Yogurt                            26g

Just think…if you are having two servings of one of these cereals (about the amount of cereal one puts in an average cereal bowl) you could be consuming as much as 40 grams of sugar….in your first meal of the day! This will inevitably lead to a “sugar crash” a few hours later where you will begin to feel lethargic and of course, hungry again. Additionally, we know that sugar consumption is the greatest risk factor for diabetes and obesity. The solution? Switch to breakfast options that contain less than 4 g of sugar. Options would include eggs, regular oatmeal, Cheerios, plain greek yogurt or other breakfast items that contains less than 4 g of sugar per serving. Additionally, adding nuts or ground flaxseed to your breakfast cereal, oatmeal or yogurt will add some fiber, keeping you fuller longer, which will help prevent you from bottoming out later in the day. Try plain greek yogurt topped with fresh raspberries and flaxseed. Delicious and filling! By making these easy switches, you will find you have more energy, and feel better throughout the day.