We know that the key to successful living is a combination of regular exercise, healthy eating, and positive mind. Eating refers to eating sensible, balanced, and the right foods at the right times – and that includes a good breakfast.
For all those who rush out the door in the morning without something to eat, here is the bad news – skipping breakfast can set you up for overeating later in the day. A healthy morning meal, on the other hand, can give you energy, satisfy your appetite, and set the stage for smart decisions all day long.
You want to aim for a breakfast that combines good carbs and fiber with some protein. Here is a look at some of our favorite breakfast foods, along with expert tips for making them even healthier.
Core of a Healthy Breakfast
- Whole grains. Examples include whole-grain rolls, bagels, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, low-fat bran muffins, crackers, and Melba toast.
- Lean protein. Examples include peanut butter, lean meat, poultry or fish, and hard-boiled eggs.
- Low-fat dairy. Examples include milk, plain or lower sugar yogurts, and low-fat cheeses, such as cottage and natural cheeses.
- Fruits and vegetables. Examples include fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, 100 percent juice drinks without added sugar, and fruit and vegetable smoothies. Choose low-sodium versions of beverages, though.
Find options from these core groups that suit your tastes and preferences. And try to choose one or two options from each category to round out a healthy breakfast.
Cereal may be your go-to item for breakfast. But not all cereals are created equal. Read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list before you buy cereal. And remember that not all cereals have the same serving size. A serving of one cereal might be 1/2 cup, while another may be 1 cup. Also, remember to top off your bowl of cereal with some sliced fruit and low-fat or skim milk. Or if you are on the go, take along a piece of fruit, a container of milk or some yogurt.
Quick Breakfast Options
You have plenty of ways to get in a healthy breakfast each day, and it doesn't always have to be a traditional breakfast menu. Here are some examples of healthy breakfast options.
- Cooked oatmeal topped with almonds or dried cranberries
- A whole-wheat pita stuffed with hard-boiled eggs
- Leftover vegetable pizza
- A tortilla filled with vegetables, salsa and low-fat shredded cheese
- A smoothie of fruits, plain yogurt and a spoonful of wheat germ
- Whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter
- A whole-wheat sandwich with lean meat and low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sweet peppers
- Multigrain pancakes with fruit and yogurt
- A whole-grain waffle with peanut butter
- Egg omelet with vegetables (use more egg whites than yolk)
Top Breakfast Foods
Oatmeal – You may have noticed a heart-shaped seal on your box of oatmeal recently. The seal is there because oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that has been shown to help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Oats are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. You may sweeten your bowl with milk and a bit of honey, and top with fruit and nuts.
Wheat Germ – Just two tablespoons provides about 15% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin E and 10% of your daily folate. Vitamin E is often a little low in people's diets, so this is a good way to add in some extra—especially if you don't eat a lot of nuts or seeds, two other big sources.
Bananas – There is nothing like a banana at breakfast to keep those mid-morning cravings at bay. The yellow fruit – especially when they are still a touch green – are one of the best sources of resistant starch, a healthy carbohydrate that keeps you feeling fuller longer.
Eggs – Eggs are embraced as a healthy source of protein and nutrients like vitamin D. Research has shown that the cholesterol in our food has less of an impact on blood cholesterol than previously thought.
Watermelon – Watermelon is an excellent way to hydrate in the morning. What is less well known is this juicy fruit is among the best sources of lycopene – a nutrient found in red fruits and vegetables that is important for vision, heart health, and cancer prevention.
Orange juice – Fresh squeezed orange juice is a classic and tasty morning beverage. For more nutritional benefit, you will want to opt for a store-bought variety that is fortified with vitamin D. Along with fatty fish and fortified milk, fortified orange juice is one of the few dietary sources of the sunshine vitamin, higher levels of which have been linked to a lower risk of osteoporosis, depression, and certain cancers.
Whole-wheat bread – Carbohydrates are a breakfast mainstay, but the type of carbs you choose can make a big difference in the overall health of your meal. The simple rule to remember is that whole wheat and other whole grains—whether they are found in bread, toast, or English muffins – contain more fiber and nutrients than their white, refined counterparts.
A healthy start to a long day is important to keep up your pace and finish all your chores in time. But, having the same cereals, oats and porridge for breakfast everyday can be so boring that you might want to avoid the meal altogether. Being a little creative and trying out Indian menus can bring life, taste, and health to your mornings.