NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.
Go further with food this National Nutrition Month with NorthShore! The Kellogg Cancer Center Registered Dietitians – Lori Wyble and Lisa Zoberman – want to help patients focus on the importance of making informed decisions about food with the Elite Ate Bracket Challenge. Lisa and Lori are helping us understand the nutrients behind healthy breakfast choices. The overall format followed to pick the winners was nutrient-dense foods vs. empty calories.
As it turns out, those of us who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later on in the day. More importantly, the American Heart Association reports that breakfast eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additionally, skipping breakfast might not be a good idea for those interested in controlling their weight.
Lori and Lisa recommend limiting your restaurant meals to two per week, but remind us that eating fast food once in a while won’t break our healthy eating plan – but ideally breakfast at home is the best option for your wallet and waistline.
Winner: Omelet Loser: Avocado Toast Why: This breakfast is the complete package! Dietitians always encourage everyone to “eat your veggies” and omelets are a tasty vehicle to accomplish this recommendation. The veggie options are endless for omelets: try mushrooms, peppers and onions, or spinach and tomato, or broccoli and fresh chives!
Winner: Avocado Toast Loser: Smoothie Why: Anytime we can chew whole foods, this is preferred. While smoothies can be a healthy option, avocado toast gives the entire meal experience that is savored and provides staying power to fuel the start of our day.
Winner: Omelet Loser: Chia Pudding Why: An omelet offers slightly better nutrition. Omelets are packed full of vegetables and the quality of protein is better than what you find in chia puddings.
Winner: Smoothie Loser: Protein Shake Why: It is important to note that there is a hierarchy among smoothie choices. The best smoothies are those that combine a balance of a healthy fat or protein source with whole fruit and veggies. One example is combining low-fat plain yogurt with berries and baby spinach. Protein shakes are a nutritionally hyped food as protein powders rank lower on the nutritious scale. Protein powders and shakes generally are not necessary for those eating a healthy diet to supply adequate protein, and sometimes these lack quality while also containing unwanted additives.
Winner: Avocado Toast Loser: Muffins Why: Did you know that avocados are botanically a fruit? Avocados contain a package of nutrition from vitamin E, folic acid, fiber and also healthy fats called monounsaturated fats. Pairing a slice of whole-wheat toast with avocado is a great way to start the day! Muffins can sometimes be marketed to appear healthier than they are but they are high in refined carbohydrates, simple sugars and unhealthy fats that do not contribute to an overall healthy diet when consumed regularly.
Winner: Chia Pudding Loser: Yogurt Parfait Why: Chia seeds are nutrient packed seeds that are a fun addition to many foods such as yogurt or baked goods. When adding chia seeds, you will reap the benefits of healthy anti-inflammatory fats from omega 3s. They also increase the fiber content of the meal or snack, and this helps satisfy our hunger longer. While yogurt parfait is a popular option and convenient choice, beware however of the high sugar content of most store bought yogurt parfaits. Some have as much sugar as desserts!
Winner: Omelet Loser: Breakfast Burrito Why: Omelets are a tasty and nutritious option when ordered correctly. Including vegetables and low fat toppings like salsa instead of full fat cheese can take your breakfast to the next level. Breakfast burritos can be a calorie bomb because of the large portion and high calorie additions from cheese and cream sauces. If you customize your burrito you can double up on the beans and veggies to satisfy hunger while optimizing nutrition. The Kellogg Dietitians agree that whenever vegetables can be added to a breakfast, you are starting off the day right.