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Expert Q&A

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What can I eat for a really healthy breakfast?

Asked by Marina, Brooklyn

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What are my options for a nutritious breakfast? Cereal doesn't feel healthy any more, and neither does a "bacon, egg and cheese." What should I eat to stay healthy and fit ?

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Diet and Fitness Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis Physician Nutrition Specialist

Expert answer

Hi Marina -- I'm glad you asked this question. There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes a healthy breakfast, one of the most important meals of the day for both weight management and optimal health. I suggest always trying to eat at least one serving of whole grains or fruit along with lean protein. I'm not sure why you think cereal does not feel healthy any more -- perhaps because many cereals are loaded with sugar and fat. But if you choose a cereal that is low in added sugar and low in fat, cereal can be one of the best sources of whole grains and fiber, both of which are important for controlling cholesterol and reducing your risk of diabetes. Add a serving of fat-free milk for protein and you have a balanced breakfast. If you find, as some of my patients, that you get hungry an hour or two after eating cereal, you may want to consider eating a breakfast with slightly more protein such as an egg white omelet (adding vegetables would be even healthier) and whole grain toast with no-sugar-added jam or cholesterol-reducing butter spread. Here are a few more of my patients' favorites:

  • One cup of fat-free Greek yogurt (it's higher in protein than regular yogurt) topped with one-half cup of low-fat granola or high-fiber cereal and one-half cup of berries. This provides you the equivalent of 2 ounces of lean protein, a serving of whole grains, and an anti-oxidant-rich fruit boost.
  • Healthy breakfast sandwich made with a whole grain English muffin, one egg (or two egg whites), and either a slice of low-fat cheese, a slice of Canadian bacon or a vegetarian breakfast patty. Serve with half a grapefruit for an extra dose of vitamin C.
  • Oatmeal plus -- I sometimes find that my patients get hungry if they eat oatmeal alone so I recommend making it with a little extra water and adding a scoop of protein powder to protein fortify the oatmeal. I prefer whey protein but other types of protein work well, too. Slow-cooked oatmeal is best but no-sugar-added instant oatmeal is good, too. If you want to boost the healthy value even more, add a tablespoon or two of chopped nuts for extra nutrients, fiber and heart healthy monounsaturated fat.
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