Pump up your breakfast — simple ways to improve the nutritional punch of your meal

Aim to have your breakfast contain protein, carbohydrates — focusing on fiber — and a reasonable amount of fat.

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A sample breakfast, including bananas.

There are several simple ways to increase the nutritional value of your breakfast, like adding bananas to a bowl of high-fiber cereal.

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“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” right?

Though I would argue it’s not necessarily always more important than lunch or dinner, there is a wealth of evidence in favor of including breakfast on a regular basis. Studies have noted a range of benefits associated with starting your day with breakfast, including:

  • Higher daily calcium and fiber intake.
  • Greater intake of vitamins and minerals.
  • Meeting the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake.
  • Improved performance at work.
  • Better weight control.
  • Improved blood sugar control.
  • Reduced LDL — “bad” — cholesterol.
  • Lower fat intake throughout the day.
  • Lower chances of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It’s important to remember that not all breakfasts are created equal — a muffin or a doughnut doesn’t contribute the same benefits as more balanced meals.

Here are some ways to boost the nutrition in your breakfast:

  • Combine your macronutrients — Aim to have your breakfast contain protein, carbohydrates (focusing on fiber) and a reasonable amount of fat. This balance can help meet your macronutrient needs, letting you feel full and more satisfied for a longer time.
  • Research recipes — If you need ideas for healthy and balanced breakfast, check out Pinterest, Google, blogs, cookbooks and recipe swaps to add to your breakfast repertoire.
  • Take advantage of leftovers — There’s no rule that your first meal of the day must consist of traditional breakfast foods or that you should focus only on sweet flavors instead of savory. Try soups, chilis or casseroles with your coffee.

A few strategies to help you create a balanced and nutritious breakfast:

  • Swap for whole grains — Choose high-fiber, whole-grain sources for breads, cereal, English muffins, etc.
  • Load up your blender — Using milk or yogurt (dairy or plant-based) offers a protein base, then add fruits and vegetables to your heart’s content.
  • Fire up your skillet — Make a quick egg-and-veggie omelet or scramble.

Environmental Nutrition is an independent newsletter written by experts on health and nutrition.

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