Chew on this

Choose a healthy breakfast, shun fast food

The other morning, while stopped at a traffic light, I glanced to my right and saw a long line of cars snaking their way through a fast-food drive-through. I wasn’t surprised; many of my patients tell me that due to time constraints, they also choose a fast-food breakfast.

But when you consider the waiting time in line and the bathroom time washing the sausage and egg drippings off your clothes, is it really speedier? I suggest that about five minutes of breakfast planning and preparation at home can you save time and money and boost your nutrition.

Reviewing the breakfast menus of the top fast-food restaurants I found only two items on most of the menus that had fewer than 500 milligrams of sodium: oatmeal and hash browns. Most offerings had way over 1,000 milligrams; a pretzel-salt bagel from one donut place had an astonishing 3,380 milligrams of sodium.

According to the American Heart Association, high sodium intake can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis and kidney disease. A great breakfast has protein, fiber, whole grains and healthy fat, not half the recommended daily sodium intake.

Here’s a work week’s worth of quick breakfasts that will bolster, not compromise your health:

• Greek yogurt with fruit, nuts and a sprinkle of ground flax seed.

• One or two hard-cooked eggs, a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and 1/2 cup fruit.

• Bran cereal (6 grams protein minimum) with milk and mixed berries (frozen is fine).

• Oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and almonds.

• A cup of cooked quinoa with dried cranberries and pistachios.

The eggs can be cooked the night before and refrigerated. Oatmeal can be cooked the night before and heated in the microwave, or choose a quick-cooking brand without added sugar and make it in the morning. And any of these breakfasts cans be packed and taken to work.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.

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