How to Make the Best Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Many traditional breakfast foods—eggs, fruit, whole-grain cereal, and yogurt, for instance—are packed with nutrients, and eating in the a.m. also helps you maintain a healthy weight, control your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improve your sensitivity to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels.

People who regularly eat breakfast have lower rates of type 2 diabetes and are less likely to develop heart failure and other heart problems over their lifetime than those who don’t, research suggests.

And breakfast also has more immediate benefits—it boosts your energy and improves cognition, memory, and problem-solving skills, says Amy Keating, R.D., a nutritionist at Consumer Reports. “Plus studies show your metabolism is primed in the morning, so it makes sense to eat a good meal early in the day.”

A healthy breakfast may even help you live longer. Regularly eating breakfast was among the key behaviors linked to longevity in the Georgia Centenarian Study, which tracked hundreds of older Americans from 1988 to 2009 to determine which variables predicted a longer-than-average life span.

Considering how vital a good breakfast is for your body and brain, it’s important to approach it mindfully. Following are some easy ways to maximize your morning meal.

1. Eat at Home

Increasingly, people are picking up breakfast in a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant, and though you can find some healthy options there, our recent review and test of breakfast items from six chains shows it isn’t so easy. When you eat at home, you have more control over what goes into your dish. Dining at home may be especially helpful if you’re watching your weight. A University of Massachusetts study found that people who often ate out in the morning were more likely to be obese than those who didn’t.

2. Front-Load Your Calories

Aim to consume 20 to 25 percent of your total daily calories at breakfast (up to 400 calories for women, up to 500 for men, and a bit more for vigorous exercisers). Research shows that it increases levels of the satiety hormone PYY, helping you to feel full, and may reduce the number of calories you consume at lunch, according to Heather Leidy, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, Columbia. It may also help you avoid overeating later in the day, which may lead to weight gain.

3. Think Protein

Research suggests that eating protein first thing in the morning is crucial. Having 24 to 35 grams may help prevent weight gain and promote weight loss by stabilizing your blood sugar, decreasing your appetite, and making you feel full. Morning protein also helps limit high-fat evening snacking. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a protein-rich breakfast consumed 200 fewer calories at night.

4. Time It Right

“In general, researchers agree that you should have a meal within 2 hours of getting up,” says Rania Mekary, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University in Boston. “If you eat later, you may be fasting too long.”

5. Pump Up Your Cereal

Ready-to-eat cold cereal isn’t always the healthiest of breakfasts on its own. That’s because it’s primarily carbohydrates, with little fat or protein to help control blood sugar levels and keep you full. Still, a cereal can be considered “good for you” if it has few ingredients, 5 grams or more of fiber, and no more than 3 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugars, and 140 mg of sodium.

Milk adds protein, but not enough. Topping cereal with 1 cup (8 ounces) of Greek yogurt and a quarter-cup of almonds will supply 33 grams of protein. (Add fresh fruit, if you like, for extra fiber and sweetness.) If only milk will do, supplement your cereal with an egg or a slice of whole-wheat toast with nut butter.

If you prefer hot cereal, try using milk instead of water to make it and mix slivered almonds or chopped walnuts. For a less traditional option, try brown rice layered with yogurt and fresh fruit and seasoned with cardamom, cinnamon, or cloves. Or cook barley or quinoa and top with cinnamon, dried fruit, or nuts.

6. Choose Yogurt Carefully

All yogurts contain lactose, a naturally occurring sugar, but vanilla and fruit-based yogurts often contain added sugars. One way to keep the sugar down is to choose a plain variety, then add a tiny amount of vanilla extract and honey, or mix in some fruit. You can also blend it with a healthy trail mix. In general, when shopping for yogurt, look for one that has 20 grams or less of sugars per serving and at least 15 percent of the daily value of calcium. There’s some evidence that whole-milk yogurt may be okay from a health standpoint, but if fat intake is a concern, choose low-fat or nonfat products when possible.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Eggs

True, eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, but their effect on your blood cholesterol level is minimal. People with normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol who limit their intake of saturated fat can safely eat up to seven eggs a week; those with high LDL should limit themselves to four or use egg whites or an egg substitute.

Having them at breakfast helps dieters lose weight, research suggests, possibly because they’re so filling that they reduce the chance of overeating later. And eggs have been found to reduce levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin and to increase levels of the PYY satiety hormone. You can increase the fullness factor by incorporating fiber-rich vegetables into your eggs, such as spinach or another dark leafy green, tomatoes, peppers, even sweet potatoes.

8. Add Some Whole Grains

Make pancakes or waffles from scratch with whole-wheat flour, or use packaged whole-wheat pancake mix. Make French toast with whole-grain bread, and boost fiber and protein by adding nonfat dry milk or ground flaxseed to the egg mixture. Skip the butter, syrup, and whipped cream in favor of fruit or low-fat ricotta cheese flavored with cinnamon or vanilla extract.

You can also consider open-faced sandwich options. Spread peanut butter on whole-wheat toast and top with fresh apple or banana slices. Or put smoked salmon on a whole-wheat bagel with sliced tomato and onion and low-fat cream cheese.

9. Go Easy on the Fruit Juice

A small glass each day—4 ounces or a half-cup—is fine, but don’t overpour. Choose whole fruit instead, which has less sugars and more fiber, and is more filling. You can also consider making a healthy smoothie, blending bananas, berries, or other fruit with low-fat milk or yogurt.

10. Consider Mixing It Up

There’s no rule that breakfast has to consist of food specifically designated for that meal. In fact, last night’s leftovers may be perfect. That’s because most people consume about 50 to 60 percent of their total daily protein at dinner, and shifting those calories to the morning may have health benefits. In studies, eating protein at breakfast vs. lunch or dinner led to a greater feeling of fullness. Other research indicates that morning protein might encourage weight loss and increase muscle mass. Some good options: grilled chicken with vegetables, steak kebabs, or an egg-based casserole.

Source: Consumer Report

Corn Tortillas with Avocado and Eggs

Ingredients

cooking spray
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium red bell pepper (finely diced)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 medium tomato (diced)
2 ounces fat-free cream cheese (cut into pieces)
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 medium avocado (halved, pitted, mashed with a fork)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped pickled jalapeños (drained)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange the tortillas in a single layer on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the tortillas with cooking spray. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
  3. In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the bell pepper and onion for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the bell pepper is tender and the onion is soft, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cook the tomato for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it releases its liquid.
  5. Stir in the cream cheese. Cook the vegetable mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cream cheese has melted.
  6. Remove from the heat. Transfer the bell pepper mixture to a small bowl.
  7. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites with a fork.
  8. Wipe the pan with paper towels. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray. Cook the egg mixture over medium-high heat, or until the eggs are scrambled, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  9. Spread the avocado over each tortilla. Top with the vegetable mixture and scrambled eggs. Garnish with the cilantro and jalapeños.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: American Heart Association

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts

Most Consumers Not Aware Of Acrylamide

Royal DSM has published a new report in its Global Insights Series which indicates that consumers are still largely unaware of acrylamide; however, those who do know something about it, know enough to be concerned. DSM’s survey, conducted among consumers in France, Germany, the UK and the USA, shows that once knowledgeable about acrylamide, consumers expect food manufacturers to find solutions.

According to DSM’s survey, only 22% of consumers have even heard of acrylamide. The exception came from Germany, where 54% of those surveyed were aware of this carcinogen. If this figure is removed, the three remaining sample groups (France, the UK, and the USA) nearly halves to just under 12%.

Moreover, many consumers struggled to define it correctly. Some thought it was a chemical found in (or added to) food products, while others described it as a preservative. Some consumers were aware that acrylamide is a (potentially) carcinogenic substance found in food.

Most of the informed consumers (64%) have decided to take action to reduce their acrylamide consumption, for example by adjusting their cooking behavior. Around half of those surveyed believe the responsibility for acrylamide levels in the products they buy sits with food manufacturers, and just 28% believe regulators should take responsibility. More than half of these consumers (58%) expressed concern for their children’s health (possibly because acrylamide is found in foods that are popular with kids like breakfast cereals, cookies, and potato chips).

However, nearly half of those surveyed (47%) believe that food producers bear the greatest responsibility for reducing acrylamide in food.

“While acrylamide is still relatively under the radar for many consumers, the topic is quickly gaining attention through major media outlets in the US and Europe,” says Fokke van den Berg, Business director, baking at DSM. “Our research shows that once consumers are informed about acrylamide, they want manufacturers, more than regulators, to take action to reduce acrylamide levels.”

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that forms in foods that are processed at a high temperature, such as cookies or tortilla chips. Many food manufacturers have already taken significant steps to reduce acrylamide levels in their products, but recent regulatory changes and increasing public awareness about acrylamide is prompting even further action.

DSM has developed solutions based on asparaginases to help manufacturers reduce acrylamide in their products.

Source: World Bakers

Diagnosing and Treating Hypertension

Resistant hypertension affects 12 percent to15 percent of patients treated for high blood pressure according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association. The statement, published in the Association’s journal Hypertension, provides a comprehensive overview of how to diagnose and treat the condition based on a review of available scientific information.

Patients are diagnosed with resistant hypertension when they need three or more medications to treat high blood pressure but still have blood pressure that exceeds the goal for hypertension established in 2017 in the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guideline for hypertension. In addition, patients whose blood pressure achieves target values on four or more different types of blood pressure lowering medication are also considered to have resistant hypertension.

The 2017 guideline specifies blood pressure below 130 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) for the top number or 80 mmHg for the bottom number as the goal. Resistant hypertension is more often found among African-Americans, men, older adults and, people who are obese, or those who have diabetes, peripheral artery disease, obstructive sleep apnea or other conditions.

“Because several conditions can mimic resistant hypertension, a correct diagnosis is essential so as not to over medicate. Asking a patient who has previously been prescribed blood pressure lowering drugs whether they take them correctly is a good place to start, because not taking medications properly will result in poorly controlled blood pressure that could appear to be resistant hypertension,” said Robert M. Carey, M.D., chair of the statement writing group and professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center.

The statement notes that 50 percent to 80 percent of people who should be taking blood pressure lowering medications don’t take them correctly because the regimen may be expensive and have unwanted side effects, which can result it poorly controlled blood pressure.

In addition, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen and some prescription medications, such as oral contraceptives may also raise blood pressure, so healthcare providers should ask patients if they are using these medications.

Another condition that can mimic resistant hypertension is the “white coat effect,” when blood pressure is higher in the doctor’s office than at home because the patient is anxious. To rule out the “white coat effect,” patients should measure their blood pressure at home using a portable monitor or by wearing a device that can measure blood pressure at specific intervals over the course of a day.

Once the physician has confirmed a diagnosis of resistant hypertension, healthcare providers should work with their patients to help them improve their lifestyle. Eating a DASH-style diet, that emphasizes eating fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish while limiting red meat and foods high in added sugars and salt has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure. Patients should also aim for a healthy body weight and get enough physical activity to help lower blood pressure.

“Some people with resistant hypertension may be extremely sensitive to salt in their diet,” said Carey. “In one of the studies we reviewed, when salt intake was significantly lowered in people with resistant hypertension, blood pressure promptly went down.”

Drinking too much alcohol and tobacco use are also lifestyle factors that affect blood pressure.

Once a clear diagnosis of resistant hypertension is made, healthcare providers have a variety of medication regimens to help their patients. By definition, the patient will already be taking three different classes of antihypertensive drugs, including a long-acting calcium channel blocker (CCB), an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) which interacts with the renin-angiotensin system and a diuretic (so called “water pills”). The healthcare provider can then customize a medication regimen based on the individual characteristics of the patient to make sure they are taking the most effective medication for their situation. If blood pressure remains uncontrolled, a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist (MRS), which blocks a hormone associated with blood pressure called aldosterone, can be added to help lower blood pressure.

Carey said it is also important to screen patients for secondary hypertension, an underlying condition that can cause high blood pressure. Treating patients for secondary hypertension can often cure them. Secondary hypertension frequently arises from a condition called primary aldosteronism, a disorder of increased aldosterone secretion, which is found in about 20 percent of patients with resistant hypertension. Other major causes of secondary hypertension include chronic kidney disease and renal artery stenosis, a narrowing of one or more arteries that carry blood to the kidneys.

“Patients with high blood pressure are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure and stroke, and their prognosis deteriorates further if they have resistant hypertension,” said Carey. “It is extremely important to get blood pressure down by whatever means one can, because study after study has shown the negative outcomes from pressures that remain elevated above the target level.”

The new statement replaces an earlier statement on the topic published in 2008 and is based on a review of over 400 research studies by the writing committee. The major changes from the 2008 statement are that the criteria for defining resistant hypertension have become more specific, the recognition that sleep deprivation contributes to lack of blood pressure control, the importance of lifestyle change to prevent and treat resistant hypertension.

In addition, there are new evidence-based recommendations from recent studies that suggest healthcare providers consider substituting the diuretics chlorthalidone or indapamide (water pills) for the more commonly prescribed diuretic hydrochlorothiazide and to consider adding spironolactone, a medication that reduces the effect of aldosterone, to the antihypertensive drug regimen.

Source: American Heart Association


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