Experts reveal the easiest ways to give your morning meal a boost.
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Add chia seeds to your yogurt (oatmeal, cereal, etc.), suggests Margaux J. Rathbun, certified nutritional therapy practitioner and creator of nutrition website AuthenticSelfWellness.com. "Chia seeds are gaining popularity, as more people are discovering their amazing health-promoting properties," Rathbun says. "These little seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (for heart health), fiber (for digestive health), calcium (for strong bones), and protein (for healthy muscles)."
The daily recommended amount of chia seeds is about 1 tablespoon.
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Create energy-boosting oatmeal by adding some flaxseed oil, Rathbun says. "This oil is virtually tasteless so it's a perfect way to sneak nutrients into a picky eater's diet."
It's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has been shown to promote sustained energy levels, balanced blood sugar, a healthy heart, and beautiful skin, hair, and nails.
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Katie Clark, registered dietitian in San Diego and blogger of FiberIstheFuture.com, says blueberries are always a great addition to your breakfast. "Mix them in with your cereal," she suggests. "One cup of blueberries provides 4 grams of fiber and 84 calories. They are [also] packed with antioxidants."
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Instead of regular milk, try experimenting with the non-dairy varieties available, Rathbun suggests. "I love coconut milk and I recommend using the brand So Delicious Coconut Milk because it's all organic and they use non-GMO (genetically modified) coconuts," she adds. "This milk is a great source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and energy-boosting B vitamins." Add it to your cereal and smoothies for starters.
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Janel Ovrut Funk, a Boston-based registered dietitian and blogger of EatWellWithJanel.com, reminds you to eat nut butter, like peanut butter or almond butter. "These are great sources of healthy fats and protein, and they help to keep you satiated," she says. "Nut butter mixed into hot oats gives it a creamy texture, or spread on whole wheat toast makes for a healthy breakfast on the go."
Nonfat Greek Yogurt
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It's delicious and nutritious, Clark says. "A 6-ounce serving of nonfat Greek yogurt has 100 calories, 18 grams of protein, and 20 percent of your daily value for calcium."
More reasons to reach for Greek yogurt in the morning: Its probiotics aid digestion, which diminishes belly bloat, and yogurt also reduces the amount of odor-causing bacteria in your mouth, so you won't have to worry about bad breath.
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Frozen berries, like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are also great ingredients to add to your breakfast. "Frozen produce is as nutritious as fresh, and sometimes even more nutritious," says Ovrut Funk. "During the winter, fresh berries are hard to come by, expensive, and usually not as high in nutrients as when they're picked in season. Frozen berries are less expensive and can be kept on hand at all times to be added to yogurt, hot or cold cereal, or a fruit smoothie."
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This spice has been shown to keep blood sugar levels in check by helping the body metabolize glucose faster. It adds a warm, sweet flavor to foods without any extra calories. Sprinkle cinnamon on oatmeal, nonfat Greek yogurt, or even your morning coffee. The possibilities are limitless.
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Jumpstart your day with a dose of this blue-green algae (usually found in supplement or powder form). It's a rich source of natural, plant-based protein, iron, calcium, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage. Blend 1 tablespoon of spirulina powder into smoothies, whisk it into your favorite vegetable juice, or take it in tablet form (4 tablets (2 g) per day is recommended for adults).
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Whole grain cereal or bread adds B vitamins and more dietary fiber, Rinzler says. Be sure to check the label when you're shopping for a healthy cereal. Grains should be the first item on the ingredient list—if it isn't, you probably don't want it. Two healthy cereals we like: Nature's Path and Fiber One.
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Joanne Lichten, Ph.D., a nutritionist, registered dietitian, and author of Eat Out Healthy and How to Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road, says nuts are a good source of protein. "Sprinkle walnuts in your oatmeal, spread peanut butter on whole grain toast, or throw almonds into your smoothie," Lichten says. "Protein also helps to stabilize our blood sugar, preventing low blood sugar symptoms including fatigue, headache, and irritability."
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Say no to butter. Instead, opt for margarine, Rinzler says. "Most margarine spreads eliminate artery-clogging saturated and trans fats, plus include healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as omega 3s," she says. Just be sure to check the label—make sure the margarine is trans fat-free and that "partially hydrogenated oil" does not appear on the ingredient list.
Milk and Cheese
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When eating cereal, opt for skim milk, and when eating a breakfast wrap, go for fat-free cheese. Skim milk and fat-free cheeses add calcium (for strong bones) without cholesterol or saturated fats, Rinzler says.
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For much-needed vitamins and fiber, try slicing veggies into an egg white or egg substitute omelet. It adds flavor, too, Rinzler says.