People seem to understand that protein is important for breakfast, but they often overlook two food groups that are just as important.
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It primes the body, jump starts the metabolism, provides the energy to get you moving for the next 16 hours, more or less. And knowing this, those who are parents are also very conscious of how their children begin their day. But when EatingWell asked their readers what they made certain the kids were getting for breakfast, they listed protein as the highest priority for the first meal of the day. Not a bad choice, but there are two other food groupings that should be part of a regular breakfast setting -- and chances are, you're not incorporating them.
First of all, back to the protein. While foods high in protein like eggs, milk, and yogurt provide the body with what it needs to make it through the first part of the day. And it is important that protein be part of the morning meal, but, as EatingWell notes, it shouldn't be overly prioritized, making your first meal protein-heavy. In fact, whatever protein deficiencies we tend to incur at breakfast are generally made up come lunch and dinner. But two food groups are neglected in the American diet and getting them in at breakfast would go a long way to a healthier you.
Fruits and Vegetables. It is recommended that the average person eat 4 to 5 cups of produce a day, but for whatever reason, most people don't seem to get enough even of what appears to be a minuscule amount. And it isn't that difficult to do. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into the morning meal is quite simple. Eat a few slice of honeydew or cantaloupe with your eggs. Speaking of eggs, you can just about wrap anything into a folded omelette -- spinach, tomatoes, kale, olives, any number and variety of peppers.
Getting enough fruits and vegetables is important and cuts down on the necessity of taking vitamin supplements, due to the fact that produce tends to be high in vitamin content. And the brighter the food coloration, the better, because brightly colored foods are chock full of nutrients that support the body's immune system. Fruits and vegetables are also a great sources of fiber, which, according to Livestrong.com, is important in the gastrointestinal health. Since fiber cannot be broken down and stored or burned off, it works as a natural cleanse for the body.
Whole grains. Although all grains are good for getting complex carbohydrates (for energy) and various vitamins and minerals (like potassium and selenium) into the diet, the USDA suggests that at least half of an individual's daily intake of grains be whole -- like whole wheat, wheat germ, buckwheat, and rice. Why? Because refined grains -- like white flour, white rice, white bread -- lose a lot of their nutrients in the milling process, according to the Mayo Clinic. They also lose much of their fiber content, the importance of which we've already covered.
Whole grains are also important in that they've been linked through research to suggest adding them to one's diet lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, a variety of cancers and a number of other health problems. Research has also found that the children tend to focus and are able to concentrate better after eating foods made with whole grains (something to keep in mind for getting the kids ready for a school day).
So, how about it? Are you getting enough of either food group in your diet? The thing is: Although the whole grains, through toast and oatmeal and such, might already be part of your diet, unless you toss in some bananas or strawberries or something in that oatmeal, you probably aren't getting any fruits in the morning. And the way people shy away from vegetables as a whole, well... You get the picture.
Note that what is being suggested here is including a larger amount of natural and unprocessed foods to the diet, especially for breakfast. And why not? It's the most important meal of the day.
(photo credit: Piotrus, Creative Commons)
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