A study conducted by The NPD found that 31 million Americans start their day without eating breakfast. Over the years, many companies have started to implement on-the-go options and alternatives to skipping what's known as the, "most important meal of the day." Most consumers are aware of the blatantly sugary and fatty breakfast options, but what about the not so obvious options?
Many breakfast shakes, bars and drinks are claiming to provide the consumer with daily nutritional needs and a low calorie option. However, many of them are just the opposite. These breakfast options are usually processed, high in sugar and/ or sodium; not to mention they are low in nutritional value and can sometimes contain double the calories that the average breakfast should contain.
Agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sought to make consumers more aware of what is in their foods. In 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was passed in hopes of helping Americans be more nutritionally savvy. However, most people still aren't aware of what they're putting into their bodies. With companies constantly bombarding consumers with their fast and easy breakfast food choices, it's hard to know what's good for you and what's not. We've come up with a list of five unhealthy breakfast choices. Which ones do you have in your kitchen?
Fruits Juices and Breakfast Smoothies
Unless these are homemade or freshly made, they are likely to be high in calories, low in fiber and with little to no nutritional value. Bottled juices like Naked Juices and Odwalla brand drinks, which are factory made and mass produced do not provide any real nutritional value. The best option is to get your own home juicer or purchase cold pressed juices from a local market or grocery store.
According to Melissa Rifkin, a registered dietitian from Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, "[expeller processed] juicers shreds fruit apart which exposes the fruit to air and heat which in turn reduces the amount of nutrients retained." This is the method used by most factories who bottle and sell these juices.
"Cold pressed or masticating machine extracts the juice from crushing the fruit then pressing for the highest juice yield. Here, juice retains more nutrients because fruits and vegetables aren't shredded with blades, which exposes the produce to air and speeds up oxidation," said Rifkin.
Also, be sure to carefully read the nutrition labels on the back of the bottles. The "healthy" juices are usually only a small percentage of juice and the rest, a mix of sugar and water.
Prepackaged Breakfast Bowls, Sandwiches, and Wraps
These foods might catch you off guard with their "whole wheat," low calories and their supposedly healthy ingredients, but beware-many of these actually contain a high number of carbohydrates and are high in fat content. Packaged breakfast bowls like Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls: Pancakes and Syrup and Sausage Links, has 710 calories and 34g fat. "High in sodium, processed, high in fat [and a] bad choice all together," said Rifkin.
A good alternative would be to prepare these breakfast items ahead of time and store them in plastic containers in the refrigerator-easy on-the-go. You choose the items you put in your wrap or sandwich and you have control over the ingredients and their nutritional values.
We have all see those flashy ads on TV for those delicious and healthy breakfast bars, but in actuality some of them could be a nutrition nightmare. If you look for ones with low caloric intake might be a better option, but reading the labels and understand all of the ingredients is important.
"Regarding breakfast bars. Careful with these as they often are [filled] with sugars. Try to pick ones that are around five grams fiber, 15 grams sugar or less and five or more grams protein. These bars are generally replacements for breakfast therefore treat them as if they were your meal," said Rifkin.
Also be weary of children's breakfast bars. Many consumers think that because they're geared for a younger crowd that companies are more conscious of what ingredients they put into them. According to Science Daily foods that are being marketed to children are no healthier than the adult equivalents of these products.
"Consumers may think that foods marketed for children, using cartoon characters and promoted for lunchboxes might be healthier options than the equivalent foods marketed more for adults. In fact we found that it was the opposite. Foods like yoghurts and cereal bars often had substantially more fat and sugar per 100g than similar adult-version products. This is very worrying and does not help consumers' confidence in choosing appropriate healthy foods for their children," said Dr Kristen Rennie from the University of Hertfordshire's Centre for Lifespan and Chronic Illness Research.
Foods Labeled "Whole Grain"
A study conducted by The Harvard School of Public Health found that many items, such as cereals, breads and bars that are labeled as whole grain might actually be bad for your health.
Even with the package labels, many foods that do have the "whole grain" labels are unhealthy. Harvard researchers found that products that had the higher whole grain rating, WG, were higher in fiber, but had more sugar and more calories.
Many U.S. adults do not get the recommended amount of whole grains in their daily diets. Researchers at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center found that, "Overall consumption of whole grains in the US population was low using the recently updated whole-grain definition. Adults who consumed the most servings of whole grains had better diet quality and nutrient intakes."
In a phone interview with MinnPost, Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington, D.C. told reporters, "The simplest way of making sure you're purchasing a healthful whole-grain product is to look for the words '100 percent whole grain' and/or 'bran.' Be wary of other phrases on the label, such as 'made with whole grain' or 'a healthy source of whole grain.' Those claims are essentially meaningless without a statement of the percentage of whole grains (in relationship to refined grains) in the product."
More than 50 percent of Americans begin their day with a hot cup of coffee. According to Dr. Donald Hensrud from Mayo Clinic, "Newer studies have also shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. And it has a high content of antioxidants."
Coffee on its own has only two calories and no fat content. However, when adding sugar, milk, whipped cream and other flavor additives, the calorie count can shoot upward to 200 calories per six ounce cup of coffee.
Being conscious of all the extra additives put into coffee is important when trying to be conscious of a person's daily caloric maintenance. Needless to say, when drinking coffee in moderation, studies have found that there have been positive effects, even a lower risk of death on those who were constant drinkers of the breakfast staple.