The USDA says a good breakfast — including protein, plenty of fiber, fruit, nuts and dairy — boosts metabolism and benefits the brain. Studies show a morning meal enhances memory and cognitive function, ensuring you will have a clear head and maintain focus at work or at school.
Many studies demonstrate that dieters who eat breakfast are less hungry throughout the day, so they take in fewer calories. The majority of people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, and over 90 percent of successful dieters usually eat breakfast, according to data from the National Weight Control Registry.
Over the next decade, consumption of heat-and-eat breakfast foods, such as bagels and frozen pancakes, will grow in the U.S., according to market research firm NPD Group Inc.
Healthy changes already are under way. Bread, bagels, English muffins, tortillas, pancakes and waffles now come in healthy multi-grain options. Many of these traditional baked items now have gluten-free options.
Healthy carbohydrates found in nuts and legumes are always an excellent way of adding energy in the morning. Eating these carbs with soluble fiber will help slow down the rate of digestion and keep you full longer.
Added sugars are under the microscope, yet honey seems to maintain a healthy halo.
"Honey has become the go-to ingredient for breakfast foods not only for its sweet flavor, but because it's completely natural and serves as an energy booster," says Emily Manelius, communications specialist at the National Honey Board (www.honey.com), Firestone, Colo. "Honey is composed primarily of carbohydrates [natural sugars] and water, as well as trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins and amino acids, which provide a natural energy boost without any added ingredients."
Honey already is one of the most popular and versatile ingredients for breakfast foods. "There are literally hundreds of cereal combinations that incorporate honey," says Manelius. "In addition, many large scale bakeries that offer bagels, English muffins, bread and biscuits have launched a honey variety."
In the breakfast bar category, honey oat is a common flavor, and many other varieties incorporate honey for its natural sweetness, texture and moisture preserving capabilities. "Honey is an ingredient that can be incorporated into all breakfast foods ranging from sweet or savory to crunchy or chewy," she says.
"The expansion of honey in breakfast products can be attributed to the fact that consumers are looking for cleaner labels when shopping for products," Manelius continues. "They want to be able to recognize the ingredients on the label when making a purchase, and honey eliminates the need for added sweeteners and flavorings because of its naturally sweet and distinctive flavor."
If you want to add sweetness without calories, a favored non-nutritive sweetener from the beverage world is starting to make inroads into baked goods and other categories.
"Manufacturers are increasingly trying to create healthier breakfast bars by reducing sugar and adding proteins and other functional ingredients like fiber, vitamins and minerals," says Diana Peninger, general manager of Nutrinova Inc. (www.celanese.com), Dallas, a Celanese Corp. business unit. "So Sunett is the ideal sugar replacer for manufacturers looking to create healthier breakfast foods."
Sunett is the brand name for Nutrinova's high-intensity sweetener acesulfame potassium (ace-K). "Not only does its upfront sweetness offer masking of unpleasant ingredients, but it offers an excellent taste profile with other sweeteners.
"Sunett's excellent heat stability allows it to be used in a wide variety of processing conditions for cereal bars, and gives you high flexibility within your production process," she continues. "Sunett is easily incorporated into bars or chocolate for enrobing by using 0.04-0.10 percent of Sunett in nutrition bars and 0.10-0.20 percent in chocolate coatings."
American consumers finally are embracing the message behind prebiotics and intestinal health. And fiber received a big boost from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. General Mills and Kellogg have huge marketing efforts pushing the value of fiber at breakfast time.
NutraFlora is a non-GMO and label-friendly, natural prebiotic fiber from Westchester, Ill.-based Corn Products International (www.cornproducts.com). It's a simple way to deliver soluble fiber and the related health benefits of improved calcium absorption and strengthened digestive and immune systems.