Help Prevent Cancer with Breakfast

What do cancer and skipping breakfast have in common?  Skipping breakfast has been linked to being overweight and undernourished.

Even more concerning is the strong association between cancer and being overweight: One out of every three cancers is linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition and physical inactivity.

Eating breakfast, meanwhile, promotes lower body weight, better nutrition and provides more consistent energy to encourage an active lifestyle. That’s why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here are some other breakfast facts to chew on:

Those who consume breakfast daily have consistently higher intakes of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12, dietary folate, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Many of these nutrients play a direct or indirect role in cancer prevention.

Breakfast eaters tend to get more fiber, which lessens their risk for colon cancer.  Nutrients missed at breakfast are generally not made up during the day.

Research shows children who eat breakfast perform better in school, have better behavior and are more alert.  Adults who eat breakfast feel better emotionally and physically.

The key to a good breakfast is choosing nutrient-rich foods that include lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.  Eating a diet that’s high in plant-based foods lowers your cancer risk, so try to incorporate them into breakfast daily.

On average, women need at least 1,600 calories per day and should aim for a 400-calorie breakfast to start the day off right. Men generally need 2,400 calories and should shoot for 500 to 600 calories at breakfast.

A light yogurt and a fruit serving totaling about 120 calories may be a healthy combination, but it does not have the energy boost that will set you up well for the day. Breakfasts too low in calories — like eating nothing at all — will make you vulnerable for that mega-meal at lunch or dinner.

Remember, calories equal energy for the body. Eating the right foods plus eating them in correct quantities throughout the day make for the winning combination. Those two components will catapult you to the day’s finish line with health success.

So why do you think at least 18 percent of Americans still skip breakfast?

Breakfast often can get squeezed out of that hectic alarm-to-office window of time each morning. But if you believe in the importance of breakfast, you will make it happen.

Make a breakfast burrito out of these cancer-fighting foods below.  

Eggs: They are a cheap, high-quality protein source and add important nutrients to your diet. They’re also an excellent source of choline, which reduces the risk for heart disease and breast cancer. Though eggs are high in cholesterol, the American Heart Association says people with normal cholesterol levels may eat one per day.

Low-fat cheese: Some studies indicate low-fat cheese and other low-fat dairy foods reduce the risk of colon cancer. The cheese contributes most of the sodium in this recipe, but you require some salt in your diet and low-fat dairy is a good source since it provides other needed nutrients.

Spinach or kale: You cannot go wrong with either of these vegetables, as they pack the most powerful anti-cancer punch of all foods. A protective effect has been shown for cancers of the mouth, part of the throat, voice box, esophagus and stomach.

Canola oil: It contains a wide variety of phytonutrients, linked to a lower risk of breast, respiratory tract and upper-digestive-tract cancers.

Whole-wheat tortillas: These are high in fiber, which helps keep colon cancer at bay. A high-fiber diet also helps people feel full with fewer calories, aiding weight management.

Side of berries: Berries consistently make it on the best (anti-cancer) antioxidant lists because they protect against free-radical damage to cells. Berries also are high in folate and vitamin C. Did you know that strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges?

By Angela Lemond, RD, CSP, LD


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