The Healthy Breakfast Habit

Written on by Kathryn Lerro

I hate to admit it, but I have several unhealthy food habits. One involves a puffy corn snack; it is salty and buttery and it melts in my mouth. If it is in the house, I am virtually powerless to resist it. (Obviously I’m not trying too hard, or I’d stop buying it!) My other unhealthy food habit is eating dinner in front of the TV. I know this isn’t good for me, but because my husband currently works evenings, and I find eating dinner alone to be incredibly bleak, I park myself and my dinner plate in front of the TV five times a week. 

I don’t know if I’ll force myself to break either of these unhealthy habits any time soon, so I’m very happy to report that I have one very healthy food habit (which I like to believe cancels out the bad ones). My very healthy food habit is eating oatmeal for breakfast.

Every morning I put old fashioned oats and water into my rice cooker. To make it even healthier, I add a few tablespoons of ground flax seeds. I love the texture of it, I love the way it tastes, and I love that it is so good for me. Once it’s in the rice cooker, I walk away and come back to perfectly cooked oatmeal about ten minutes later.

Here are some of the reasons why I feel so good about my oatmeal and flax seed breakfast habit:

Oatmeal is full of nutrients, but low in calories. It is loaded with anti-oxidants, which lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce inflammation. Because oatmeal is very filling, many people find it helps with weight management. (If I’ve eaten oatmeal for breakfast, I don’t feel hungry again until lunchtime.) Oatmeal contains beta-glucan, which is a soluble fiber that helps improve the body’s insulin response, may reduce blood sugar, and helps reduce bad cholesterol. Beta–glucan helps keep things moving through the digestive tract, which prevents constipation. And beta-glucan improves gut health by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

Flax seeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. ALA fatty acids have been shown to provide heart health benefits and reduce the risk of stroke. Flax seeds also contain lignans: nutrients which are believed to help prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer and other types of cancer. Flax seeds contain high amounts of fiber—both soluble and insoluble.  The soluble fiber slows the rate of digestion, which helps to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.  The insoluble fiber promotes regularity, and is also helpful for those with irritable bowel syndrome or diverticular disease. Research has shown that eating flax seeds regularly lowers blood pressure. And finally, flax seeds are a good source of plant-based protein. (The two tablespoons of ground flax seed I put in my oatmeal provide about 3 grams of protein.)

I top off my oatmeal with a teaspoon of brown sugar for flavor, some stevia to get it a little sweeter without adding more calories or raising my blood sugar, a few shakes of cinnamon (which comes with its own surprising health benefits!), some slivered almonds, a few golden raisins and some milk. It makes for a satisfying breakfast that I hope I’ll never get tired of. 

Here’s a bit more helpful information:

Flax seeds should be ground to provide the noted health benefits. They can be ground in a coffee grinder or high-power blender. Pre-ground flax seed (flax seed meal) is readily available in most grocery stores. It should be kept refrigerated after opening.

When choosing oatmeal, beware of the sugars and other additives in instant oatmeal. Even if it’s unflavored, instant oatmeal can raise your blood sugar instead of lowering it. For more information on how to choose which type of oatmeal is best for you—and for cooking tips, please visit:     

Breakfast Garden photo by Uta Kallenbach via Pixabay

Additional sources:

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