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Published: Monday, 9/3/2001 - Updated: 1 year ago

A healthy start

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

(Second of two parts)

The Great American Breakfast -- two eggs sunny-side-up, two strips of bacon, two links of sausage, fried potatoes, and white toast slathered with butter and jelly accompanied by a large glass of orange juice -- has withstood assault for years.

If it wasn't the saturated fat in sausage, bacon, and butter, it was the cholesterol in eggs and the dangers of frying any of it, including those breakfast potatoes.

As a result, some folks have turned to granola or dry cereal with low-fat milk, fresh fruit, a bagel, or low-fat yogurt for the Healthy American Breakfast.

Call it the battle of the breakfasts. In search of the healthy breakfast, good foods have had bad press, and some foods have been over-praised.

For example, that Great American Breakfast was the daily breakfast when baby boomers were growing up. Today it has become the weekend breakfast because health consciousness in the last two decades advised moderation and because so few people take time to prepare breakfast.

The Healthy American Breakfast, which is for many people the workday breakfast, can yield a goodly share of fat calories depending on how the granola is made, the size of the bagel, the use of butter and cream cheese on the bagel, and whether the yogurt is low in fat.

For years the American Heart Association kept warning folks to keep those eggs to three a week, and although the AHA guidelines have not changed, the AHA Dietary Guidelines Revision 2000 advises that if you don't eat other foods high in cholesterol, you can eat up to an egg a day.

However, consumers barely have had time to digest this news, when the issue of the safety of sunny-side-up eggs cracked this shell of nutrition information. New recommendations advise cooking eggs thoroughly.

Then the issue of juice consumption confused consumers, according to Eric Boomhower of the Florida Department of Citrus. When the American Academy of Pediatrics announced guidelines for children's fruit consumption in May, the guidelines were established to ensure parents are not making fruit juice a major part of children's diet. Although the AAP report indicated that the majority of children were within the recommended consumption ranges for their age, excessive juice consumption may be associated with various health problems for some.

The new AAP guidelines for 100 percent juice are: 4 to 6 ounces per day for ages 1 to 6 and 8 to 12 ounces per day for ages 7 and 8.

Mr. Boomhower notes that lumping the whole fruit juice range into one category - fruit-juice based beverages, juice drinks, and juice cocktails that can contain anywhere from 5 percent to 100 percent juice - does not mean the beverages have the same nutritional value.

One hundred percent orange juice is nutrient dense. An eight-ounce glass provides 120 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 15 percent for folate, 15 percent for thiamin, 12 percent for potassium, 6 percent for vitamin B-6, 6 percent for magnesium, 4 percent for niacin, and 4 percent for phosphorous.

The less fruit juice, the less nutrition. “The challenge is to educate people - who want to buy orange juice and not some chemical cocktail that looks like orange juice - to read the label,” he said.

Fast forward to the Healthy American Breakfast with its heaping portion of granola, bagels, and fruit.

Most of these foods are high in carbohydrates. Eating certain carbohydrates makes some people hungrier shortly after eating. This is due to the Glycemic Index, a scale of 1 to 100 that rates how quickly specific foods raise blood sugar.

Low Glycemic Index means a smaller rise in blood sugar, which can help control established diabetes, help people lose weight and lower blood lipids, and improve the body's sensitivity to insulin.

Foods with higher Glycemic Index refuel carbohydrate stores after exercise, but eaten alone you can expect to get hungry after your body quickly absorbs the blood sugar that results. That makes some people eat sooner or snack more than they would normally. To counteract this, include foods with protein.

Using the menu of the Healthy American Breakfast, a bagel has an index of 72; Cherrios is 74; and white bread is 70. Muesli has an index of 39, grapefruit is 25, and low fat yogurt with fruit is 33. Thus, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Skim milk, which also contains protein, has an index of 32. “Eggs have no index because there is no carbohydrate in them,” explained Martha Filipic of the Ohio State University Chow Line publication.

Steve Hansen is a regular breakfast customer at Glendale Garden Caf . Every morning he orders cooked oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar, and milk, and one Egg Beater scrambled. He works out daily before breakfast.

“I start my day in a reasonably healthy manner,” he said. “At home, I'd just pour a bowl of cereal and slice a banana.”

“I've never had a sunny-side-up egg. I don't like them. Too nasty for me - albumin is not cooked. I don't like the look or the taste. But oatmeal here (at Glendale Garden Caf ) is cooked, not instant. It's good for your cholesterol and has fiber.”

At the Wyndham Hotel, there are several healthy breakfast options, from roasted granola to a fresh fruit and yogurt plate. Executive chef James Alleman says that it is popular with the business clients. “We do a large corporate business. The business client can pre-order in the evening.”

Just the same, that American Breakfast with the hash brown ring made from fresh potatoes and served with two eggs, breakfast sausage, and toast is popular with room service and in the dining room for a jump-start to the day.

John Spalding of Bowling Green,who said he has lost 85 pounds since November on the Atkins Diet, ordered a high-protein breakfast at Johnny's recently: a cheese and bacon omelette with a side of sausage and a side of bacon, but he declined toast, fried potatoes, or pancakes.

“I have an abundance of eggs,” he said.

Plated up, the Healthy American Breakfast may mean different things to different people. But as The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide advises: Many (breakfast) choices are high in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A balanced breakfast should contain carbohydrate, sugar, protein, and fat for a sustained energy release through the morning.

Thus, a variety of foods eaten in moderation makes good nutrition-sense.



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