Friday, March 21, 2008

Breakfast: Smarter than you think


Ah, the first part of your day, when your coffee is perfect, your bagel is toasted just the way you like it and your smoothie is perfectly, well, smooth. Or maybe you're about to dive into some bacon and eggs. What you eat or don't eat in the morning affects your day, and your health. Unfortunately, half of us don't eat breakfast, so miss out on some great benefits. With half of the adult population also on diets, here are some ways to control your weight and improve your health by starting your day off with a little something.

Be Your Inner Lean Self: According to the National Weight Control Registry, an ongoing large-scale study to show the successes of people who managed to keep their weight down, 5,000 people lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year. Their secret: More than 75 percent of the participants eat breakfast daily.

Teenage-Rushers: This month the Journal of Pediatrics published a study showing a body-weight change of an average of 5 to 7 pounds in teens who skipped breakfast. Not only are these teens going 12 to 15 hours without something to eat, which is akin to fasting, but they are bingeing later in the day to make up for missing calories. Encourage your teens to eat breakfast, particularly those who are concerned about weight, especially girls, as they fare worse than the boys. With obesity nearly tripled in this age group in the last 20 years, no matter how crazy and rushed the mornings may seem, have them eat something.

Potassium: Pile it on. Forty-five million more Americans are now in need of high blood pressure management thanks to a new classification of pre-hypertension, by the Joint National Committee on the Prevention, Detection and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Too much salt wreaks havoc on blood pressure. Foods rich in potassium can be helpful to combat sodium's negative effect. A medium banana, a mere 105 calories, contains 422 mg. of potassium. A cup of low-fat yogurt offers 531 mg. and ¾ cup of orange juice contains 355 mg. All combined is half of the RDA's recommendation of 2,000 mg/day. Cantaloupe and carrot juice are other good potassium sources. All are quick, out-the-door kinds of breakfast.

The Buzz of Coffee. You don't have to feel guilty about loving your morning buzz. Who knew? The vast amount of research shows that for most people, coffee does more good than harm. Harvard researchers, in an 18-year study on 126,000 people, found coffee cuts the risk of type 2 diabetes, and can lessen the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, in another study over a decade, including 600 older men, found that regular coffee drinkers had a slower rate of memory loss. Coffee seems to play a role in reducing levels of the enzymes that build plaque. Coffee is also antioxidant-rich, like dark chocolate. Though the loss is minimal, it can interfere with the absorption of some minerals. Make up for the loss by simply adding more fruit, low-fat cheese or fiber-filled cereals to your breakfast plan to start your day smart, with or without the java.

A great fan of oatmeal, Connie Aronson is American College of Sports Medicine certified, ACE gold-status certified personal trainer, and an IDEA Elite personal trainer, who trains clients at High Altitude Fitness and the YMCA in Ketchum.

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