Diet and Nutrition

Make time for breakfast – here's why

Diet and Nutrition

An increasing body of research confirms what moms have been saying for years: Breakfast in the morning is the most important meal of the day. Studies show that eating more of your daily calories earlier in the day improves glucose control and reduces blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

According to Susan Rodder, M.S., a registered dietician at UT Southwestern, that early meal is also important for improving your concentration and managing your weight.

The sky's the limit when it comes to healthy ways to break your daily "fast," Ms. Rodder says. She notes that while cereal clearly reigns supreme as most nutrient-dense breakfast food, not all cereals are created equally. "Look for ready-to-eat, unsweetened cereal with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber and no more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving," she advises. "Top it with fruit and low-fat (skim or 1 percent) cow's milk or unsweetened/unflavored soy, almond, or hemp milk. Avoid coconut milk, which is high in saturated fat.

"Oatmeal and oat bran cereals are rich sources of soluble fiber that help lower bad cholesterol," she adds. "Instant oatmeal may contain more sodium per serving than slow-cook versions, but several brands now have sodium-free varieties."

Other good foods to match your breakfast moods

  • Vanilla yogurt – Top with granola, wheat germ, or crunchy whole-grain cereal.
  • Toast – Top with peanut or almond butter (avoid any product with "partially hydrogenated oil").
  • Fruits and nuts – Try a banana with walnuts, or an apple with almonds. Limit your serving of unsalted or lightly salted nuts to less than 1.5 ounces.
  • Eggs – They can be part of a healthy breakfast; it's the bacon, sausage, and cheese we often pair them with that should be avoided or eaten only occasionally because these foods are high in saturated fat and sodium.
  • Breakfast shakes or bars – These can be helpful in a pinch, but limit the protein to less than 20 grams per serving. Don't be swayed by extras like "isolated phytonutrients" or added vitamins or minerals.
  • Rice and beans or fish – These are traditional breakfast foods in other parts of the world.