Start the Day Off Right - A healthy breakfast is important!         More Articles

Reprinted from "Taste for Life" magazine
Onorganics by Kristy Erickson

Attention all breakfast skippers: Remember when mom told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? Turns out she was right - and there are a number of studies to prove it. Eating breakfast is crucial for memory, focus, and even preventing weight gain. So don’t start the day on an empty stomach: Before you or your kids head for work school, make sure everyone eats that nourishing morning meal. The good news is that your favorite natural products store carries a variety of quick and easy organic foods to break your fast.

Just the Facts
While many of us can attest to the midmorning crankiness and lack of focus that accompany hunger pangs, skipping breakfast produces even more serous effects in children. When kids fast all night and then forgo a quality breakfast, their thought processes are slower and they have a harder time remembering details. This is the result of lower blood sugar levels plus a deficiency of the micronutrients that produce brain energy.

A growing body of research shows that a nutritious breakfast can improve mood and concentration-especially in youngsters. A recent study from the American Dietetic Association reports that eating breakfast may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and school attendance. “Children need the energy and nutrients to help support their growing bodies and to provide the fuel to keep them active and mentally alert,” says Lorraine Hood of Barbara’s Bakery. Another bonus? Studies also show that people of all ages who eat breakfast generally consumer more calories, but they are less likely to be overweight.

What to Choose
For a convenient and delicious breakfast for both kids and adults, bowl of cereal can be a healthy choice. But it’s important to choose a product made with wholesome ingredients, like whole grains. “A bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk is quick and easy to prepare and provides a good source of the vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein necessary for growing bodies,” says hood.

Whole grains are important for adults, too. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers report that men who eat one service of whole-grain cereal every day are as much as 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease than men who rarely eat whole-grain cereal. After an average of five and a half years, men who ate at least one serving of whole-grain cereal per day had a 27 percent lower risk of death from any cause than those who rarely ate whole-grain cereal.

Fiber is one nutrient that’s lacking in many children’s diets. “A recent study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that two-to-five-year-old children were not even meeting the ‘age plus five’ rule for fiver intake,” says Jeff Johnson, director of nutrition at Kashi, “which is more of a minimum goal, let alone the current recommendation of 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed.” Whole-grain cereals are excellent sources of fiber, and many rovide the nutrients essential to a child’s developing mind, like choline, zinc, iron, and vitamin C. Organic fruit is also a great source of fiber and nutrients. Top off your or your child’s cereal with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or banana slices.

Go for Organic
Choosing organic is important, especially for children. “Unlike conventionally grown and manufactured cereals, whole-grain organic cereals are made with ingredients that are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides,” says Arran Stephens, founder and president of Nature’s Path. “While the science is divided on whether this poses any risk to consumers, it is known that, due to their size and high rate of growth, children may be more sensitive to these environmental chemicals,” he adds.

Skip Artificial Sweeteners
Although many food manufacturers replace natural sweeteners with man-made alternatives in an attempt to cut calories, the obesity rate has continued to rise. And while many of these sweeteners appear to be harmless, Hood, Johnson, and Stephens all agree it’s best to opt for naturally sweetened cereals. “(artificial sweeteners) provide no nutritional value, and not enough is known about these sweeteners to determine if they are completely safe,” says hood. “It’s best to avoid these sweeteners, which could have unknown harmful consequences in the future, particularly in young, developing bodies,” she adds. Johnson recommends “a lightly, naturally sweetened cereal” for kids, “especially when it’s combined with whole grains, fiber and protein.” Look for nourishing, naturally sweetened cereals at the store that gives you Taste for Life so that you- and your children- can start the day off right.

Selected sources

“Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents” by C. C. Rampersaud
“Is intake of Breakfast Cereals related to Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Men?” by Simin Liu


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