Breakfast Foods Secretly Increasing Inflammation, Say Dietitians
Eating breakfast is an important part of getting through the day in a balanced and energized way. But, depending on the foods you choose to eat, breakfast can also quickly sabotage your health.
Many breakfast foods are secretly loaded with ingredients that can become harmful if consumed in large quantities on a regular basis, such as saturated fats and added sugar. And over time, these ingredients may contribute to inflammation in the body.
To learn more about this, we asked some dietitians to tell us about the types of breakfast foods we should limit or avoid in order to help reduce inflammation. It's also important to note that reducing chronic inflammation often requires a change in lifestyle, not just altering a few food choices. But limiting your consumption of these foods is a great place to start.
Experts warn that the type of coffee you consume in the morning may contribute to ongoing inflammation, so it may be helpful to switch up the way you drink your morning coffee.
"While coffee itself may offer anti-inflammatory benefits, if you are adding pumps of syrup or spoonfuls of sugar to your cup of Joe, you may be doing more harm than good in the inflammation department," says medical board member Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. "Too many added sugars may contribute to inflammation, so sticking to a classic latte with milk, coffee, and a sprinkle of cinnamon will be a better choice."
According to Manaker, turkey bacon is one of the sneakiest foods that can lead to inflammation if consumed on a frequent basis.
"Although many people lean on turkey bacon because they think it is a healthier choice, the truth is that it is still considered to be processed meat and can be high in saturated fat," says Manaker. "Regardless of whether you are a turkey or classic bacon lover, keep your bacon intake to a minimum when trying to combat inflammation."
Flavored instant oatmeal
Also on the list of sneaky inflammatory foods is a beloved classic: instant oatmeal. But Manaker warns that quicker does not always mean better.
"Sure, oatmeal is a classic good-for-you breakfast that is loaded with healthy fiber, vitamins, and carbs," says Manaker. "But if you are opting for a flavored variety that contains added sugars, you may be contributing to your inflammation. Stick to unflavored oatmeal and add fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup for some extra flavor."
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The appeal of breakfast pastries like muffins or donuts is that they are not only delicious, but they can contain heavy amounts of ingredients that are known to trigger inflammation when consumed in large quantities on a consistent basis.
"Many muffins are loaded with added sugar, saturated fat, and other pro-inflammatory ingredients," says Manaker. "While muffins may sound healthy, depending on how they are made, they may be a not-so-great choice for people who are trying to reduce inflammation."
Generally avoid these types of food
When it comes to managing inflammation at breakfast time, Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and medical board expert suggests limiting foods that are high in one of two inflammatory ingredients: added sugar and saturated fat.
"While no donut itself causes inflammation, the consistent intake of foods with added sugar to your eating pattern can potentially contribute to chronic inflammation over time," says Goodson. "They are also typically low in fiber and can thus contribute to blood sugar spikes and drops when eaten by themselves, which can do bad things for your energy on a daily basis and oftentimes bad things for inflammation long term."
"Saturated fat found in fast-food breakfast sandwiches, pastries, baked goods, and most frozen breakfast items can contribute to increases in cholesterol and inflammation if consumed regularly over long periods of time, and this is especially the case if the individual's diet is low in fiber and contains other sources of saturated fat throughout the day," says Goodson.
To help reduce inflammation and still be able to enjoy the foods you love, Goodson suggests swapping muffins and donuts for a whole grain breakfast carb like oatmeal or 100% whole grain bread, and choosing breakfast sandwiches made with lean meat and a whole grain bread or English muffin.