Choose healthy grains for a healthy breakfast

These healthy choices include everything from cereal to muffins to pancakes. With so much variety, there's no excuse for kids and adults NOT to include healthy grains at breakfast.

While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, kids need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains rely heavily on the regular intake of food. When kids skip breakfast, they can end up going for as long as eighteen hours without food, and this period of semi-starvation can create a lot of physical, intellectual and behavioral problems for them.

Focusing on healthy grains for breakfast can be an optimal way to help children eat breakfast and stay full longer. Whole grains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, the body's main fuel. They are loaded with fiber and are rich in vitamins B and E, are trans- fat free, break down slowly to keep us full and energized for long periods of time and taste great.

USDA Choose My gives some excellent ideas to incorporate grains in your breakfast. So what should you choose to start your day off on the right foot? Experts say there are plenty of choices – if you learn to think outside the box!

A good breakfast cereal should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving or more. Check the sodium content to stay below 200 mg of sodium, and watch the fat content – try to choose a cereal with 2 grams of fat or less per serving.

If you're just not a cereal kind of person, you can find some healthful breakfast choices on the bakery aisle if you read the labels before you buy. Pay attention to all the ingredients – such as sugar, sodium and fat – but also the calories as they pertain to the portion size. It is important to identify the best whole grain choices.  For example, while a bran muffin can be a good source of fiber, a portion is 1 ounce. But the average muffin is 7 ounces. If you're not sure how much a muffin weighs, don't eat more than half. It’s a good idea to choose a variety that is high in fiber (like bran or oat) and low in fat and sugar.

If oatmeal is your favorite breakfast but time is an issue for preparation, here is a quick idea. Portion out the serving of oats into a microwave save bowl, and then add a portion of milk. Refrigerate overnight, then place it in the microwave to cook. Another quick breakfast is peanut butter and jelly on whole grain or multigrain bread with a glass of milk; this will satisfy any “kid” at heart. Prepare it the night before, and keep it in the refrigerator for safe keeping. If you are eating out, opt for buckwheat or whole grain pancakes, multigrain toast and/or English muffins.

Just a few changes that include healthy whole grains can provide more nutrients to your diet. Breakfast gives you a chance to start each day with a healthy and nutritious meal. It also lays the foundation for lifelong health benefits.

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