Lisa Akly, RD
Prisma Health Heart Hospital
It is important to remember that heart healthy eating is something to practice all year long. One important habit to adapt is starting your day off with a heart healthy breakfast – what some consider the most important meal of the day. Here are five tips from Lisa Akly, RD, to help you create a breakfast that is good for you and your heart:
- Consider fiber-rich whole grains. The American Heart Association recommends three or more servings of fiber-rich whole grains each day. You can begin your morning with hot cereal featuring steel cut or old-fashioned oats seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg or cloves. Quinoa is also a delicious option for a hot breakfast cereal. Bake your own whole grain muffins using less added sugar. You also can use pureed fruit such as applesauce to replace some or all of the oil.
- Eggs: the standard breakfast fare. If eggs are your go-to breakfast favorite, you can still enjoy them while being kind to your heart. The American Heart Association suggests one egg (or two egg whites) per day as part of a healthy diet for those who eat them. Try a slice of whole grain toast with a cooked egg or egg whites and two tablespoons of avocado for a delicious breakfast.
- Think outside the carton. Eggs are just one example of a breakfast protein source. Just six ounces of low-fat or fat-free yogurt, an eight-ounce glass of low-fat or fat-free milk, or one ounce of cheese can add five or more grams of protein to your breakfast. Watch portions to save on saturated fat. Other ways to add protein to your breakfast include sprinkling nuts or seeds on your hot cereal or yogurt. You can also include a slice of whole grain toast with one or two tablespoons of peanut butter or another type of nut butter. Change it up with a three-ounce portion of baked or grilled salmon packed with those good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids.
- What about fruits and veggies? Adding fresh fruit to hot cereal or to whole grain pancakes, waffles, yogurt or simply including it as a side dish is a great addition to breakfast. Veggies can also be a breakfast favorite. Throw a handful of fresh spinach into a smoothie featuring blueberries and low-fat yogurt. Add onions, mushrooms and parsley to a delicious omelet. Include cucumbers and tomatoes on a creative breakfast sandwich. Hummus served with whole grain pita bread and veggies such as carrots and colorful bell peppers can be a fresh and delicious addition to your breakfast table.
- Coffee: don’t get too fancy. An eight-ounce cup of brewed, plain coffee contains just two calories, and according to the American Heart Association, moderate coffee drinking (one to two cups per day) does not appear to be harmful. It even has evidence of health benefits. However, it’s what we add to our coffee that can determine how healthy it will be for us. Adding just two tablespoons of cream and two teaspoons of sugar to your morning coffee adds approximately 70 calories.
Incorporating a heart healthy breakfast is the first step you can take each day on your journey to healthy eating. Making heart healthy breakfast choices will not only help your heart but your overall health as well.
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