We've all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Instinctively, most people understand eating something healthy at the beginning of the day can help them feel strong and energized. Unfortunately, many people still fill up on sugary cereals or skip breakfast altogether. Though it may be tempting to ditch a traditional breakfast and pick up coffee on the way to work, poor choices could be holding you back from your best potential.
No, but really, it’s true! Making a healthy breakfast takes more effort than skipping your morning meal, but the effort pays off by keeping you full, boosting your energy and providing multiple health benefits. Let's look at why breakfast matters and how you can create meals to make your whole day better.
Why Eat a Healthy Breakfast?
A healthy breakfast is essential to maintaining good health. The foods you choose help you meet your body's nutritional needs and eating early comes with other health benefits, too. When you eat breakfast, you jumpstart your body's metabolism, essentially letting it know you have food available and don't need to conserve energy. You'll burn more calories throughout the day and likely have a lower BMI than if you didn't eat breakfast. Eating breakfast may also help control blood sugar levels, make you less likely to overeat later in the day and even encourage focus in school or at work.
There are numerous health benefits to eating breakfast, but the nutritional quality of what you eat in the morning is also essential. Aim for a balance of carbohydrates and fiber for quick energy, plus some protein to keep everything in your body running smoothly. You need to eat meals packed with nutritional value to best reap the benefits, as a healthy breakfast can help you feel and perform better, while an unhealthy one could be just as bad as skipping the meal altogether. For some, this fact raises the question: What is a healthy breakfast? The answer is less complicated than you may think.
What Should Your Breakfast Include?
A healthy breakfast shares the qualities of any other well-rounded meal. In general, a healthy breakfast should include at least three of these four food groups:
• Whole grains, such as whole wheat toast or whole-grain cereals
• Lean protein, such as eggs or nuts
• Low-fat dairy, such as skim milk or low-sugar yogurts
• Fruits and vegetables, either fresh or frozen
For a well-balanced breakfast that keeps the body running until lunchtime, it's best to use foods from a few of these groups in the meal. You may also want to avoid or find substitutes for common breakfast foods such as white bread and sugary cereals that contain refined carbohydrates. If you're baking your own bread, consider using a low-carb alternative like our 100% organic Cauliflower Flour. And remember to pay attention to recommended serving sizes as you build your meal.
In addition to these main breakfast foods, you can also incorporate a few different superfoods for increased health benefits. These ingredients are easy to incorporate into foods like yogurt or smoothies, and they serve as sources of essential nutrients like fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants. For example, here are four foods you can use to make your superfood breakfast meals:
Acai: This fruit, which is native to the Amazon, contains high amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants. The anthocyanins and other antioxidants in acai neutralize damaging free radicals in the body, helping prevent diseases like diabetes and cancer. Though many fruits contain antioxidants, acai contains more than common sources like blueberries and cranberries. Top an acai bowl with nuts and seeds or blend acai powder into a smoothie for an energizing breakfast.
Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help promote cardiovascular health and they're also great for eye health! Chia seeds are super easy to incorporate into a healthy breakfast—just add a few tablespoons to cereal, yogurt, oatmeal or a smoothie to amp up your fiber intake. Bonus tip: Hemp seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids!
Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass contains antioxidants to help fight inflammation, as well as large amounts of fiber. People have long touted its effectiveness as a remedy for treating gastrointestinal discomfort and it may even help treat ulcerative colitis, though research is lacking in this area. You can easily add wheatgrass powder to smoothies or juices for an extra boost of plant-based nutrition.
Cashews: Cashews contain healthy fats that can help promote cardiovascular health and keep you feeling full long after your morning meal. Plus, they're easy to pack and eat on the go when you feel hunger coming on and don’t want to make poor choices. Bring a handful of cashews with you on the way to work or use them to top granola, oatmeal or yogurt.
Start Your Day Strong
It’s clear to see that eating a healthy breakfast every morning comes with countless health benefits. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you should try to make it a good one. Balance your meal with healthy choices from different food groups and incorporate superfoods to start your day off on the right foot!
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer with a Bachelor's degree in English and a fierce obsession with iced coffee. She enjoys writing about politics and culture, and how those two elements so often intersect in such interesting ways. When she's not writing, she likes to teach Zumba Fitness classes or curl up with a good book.