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Break the fast…fast!

Dear Ellen, Everyone seems to say I should eat a healthy breakfast. What are the healthiest quick options I should choose?

Since what you eat for breakfast matters just as much as whether you eat it, let’s look at the unanimously recommended One Simple Changes you can make to get the most out of your breakfast…fast! The general consensus on what an optimal healthy breakfast should contain combines complex carbohydrates, fiber, fruit and lean protein. Here are my top 3 for each! 

Complex Carbohydrates and fiber. The simple rule to remember is that whole wheat and other whole grains, whether in the form of bread or cereal, contain more fiber and nutrients than their white, refined counterparts.1) Oatmeal has been considered a superfood since it contains fiber that has been shown to help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Oats are also rich in omega-3 fatty acidsfolate, and potassium. 2) Low-sugar cereals such as wheatabix or bran flakes. Read cereal labels and aim for at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar. Some cereals are also fortified with riboflavin, folic acid, and other essential nutrients. 3) Whole grain bread - not to be confused with to popular multi-grain bread - contains more essential nutrients since the term "whole grain" refers to flour that is made from all parts of the wheat grain kernel, the most nutritious parts of the wheat grain. Whole grains take longer to be absorbed by the body and have more dietary fiber helping prevent sharp rises in sugar and insulin levels.

Protein.  Lean protein is ideal for increasing fullness and reducing hunger throughout the day. 1) Eggs which were once avoided for being high in dietary cholesterol, are now embraced as a healthy source of protein and nutrients like vitamin D. Research has shown that the cholesterol in our food has less of an impact on blood cholesterol than previously thought. 2) Low-fat milk or yogurt, both of which combine beautifully with complex carbohydrates- is another way to keep breakfast healthy and relatively low on sugar. One cup of low-fat milk has 12 grams of sugar, so be sure to keep milk usage light. If you’re a fan of yogurt, try Greek yogurt -  it has less whey, lactose and sugar than regular yogurt and is loaded with calcium  and protein, nearly twice as much as regular yogurt, to keep you feeling full throughout the morning. Choose a plain, non-fat variety, and add some fruit to give it some sweetness, flavor and added nutrition. 3) Nut butter, like almond or peanut, is an excellent alternate source of protein, filled with healthy fats. Spread butters on bread or fruit for breakfast.

Fruit (or vegetables ) in the morning can help to complete your daily nutrients, however there are advantages to opting for whole fruit rather than juice. One advantage of eating the whole fruit is the nutrient rich disease fighting high fiber content. Most fruit skins, or peels which contain various nutrients like carotenoids and flavonoids that can help improve our health, are often removed during the juicing process. Consumers also need to be mindful of added sugar in fruit juices, which may adversely affect blood sugar. 1) Grapefruit and citrus. Studies have shown that eating half a grapefruit before each meal may help you slim down faster, thanks to the fruit's fat-burning properties and its beneficial effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. All citrus fruits are hydrating, filling, contain vitamin C and are packed with immunity-boosting antioxidants. 2) Bananas. The yellow fruit, especially when they're still a bit green, are one of the best sources of resistant starch, a healthy carbohydrate that keeps you feeling fuller longer and keep cravings at bay. Adding banana to cereal or oatmeal adds natural sweetness, so you may not need additional sugar. Bananas are a particularly good choice for people with hypertension thanks to potassium, an electrolyte that helps lower blood pressure naturally. 3) Berries. Fresh or frozen, these tiny superfruits pack a big antioxidant punch, contain vitamin C, folic acid and fiber. Studies suggest that eating blueberries regularly can help improve everything from memory and motor skills to blood pressure and metabolism. Berries are also lower in calories than a lot of other fruits so you can pile them onto your cereal without worrying about your waistline.

Energy Bars. Juice PLUS+ Complete Bars can help you achieve a balanced diet on-the-go providing you with the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibre, and fat for energy and health.

Liquid breakfast. If eating upon rising doesn't appeal to you, consider the convenience and health of a liquid breakfast! Juice PLUS+ Complete Shakes, with vegetable protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins, no preservatives or artificial sweetener, colouring or aromas and low glycemic index (GI) are an excellent choice. Convenience aside, one meta-analysis that looked at six studies concluded a meal-replacement shake can safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss. If you have more time, try making one of these homemade smoothies to help load the beginning of your day with fruits and vegetables. Having a nutribullet or other mixer in the kitchen is a quick and easy way to whip it up!

Plan Ahead. Though eating breakfast does not have to be a huge ordeal, it requires a bit of thinking and planning. Purchase the ingredients for your healthy breakfast over the weekend, so you don’t have to worry during the week. If you eat at work, pack breakfast the night before so you can just grab it on your way out the door.

Are you curious about coffee? Tea? Well, there has been so much recent research on it the health benefits of coffee and tea drinking, that we will treat it separately in our next post!

Health care providers often recommend limiting the amount of caffeine to less than 200 milligrams a day during pregnancy (approximately 2 cups of coffee).