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Breakfast on the Run: Thinking Outside the Box

Is your quick breakfast as healthy as you think?

Choosing a Breakfast Cereal continued...

Next, check the sugar and sodium content. Somer says the healthiest cereals have 4 grams of sugar or less per serving. Heller believesays the sodium should be under 200 grams per serving.

And, the experts remind us, don't overlook the fat content. Yes, there can be lots in some cereals. "Granola and other mixes can be loaded with palm and coconut oil -- not only high in fat, but also high in trans fat," says Somer. Her recommendation: choose cereals with no more than 2 grams of fat per serving.

While you may be tempted to munch your cereal dry during your drive to work, take five minutes at the breakfast table and add fresh or frozen fruit, and drench those flakes in skim or low-fat milk.

"Now you've got the perfect combo of protein and carbohydrate - the carbohydrates will fuel your brain and your muscles, the protein will keep you satiated - plus, if people don't have milk for breakfast, they hardly ever make up their calcium later in the day," says Somer.

Bagels, Muffins, Waffles, and Toast

If you're just not a cereal kind of person, you can find some healthful breakfast choices on the bakery aisle if you read the labels before you buy.

"This means not only paying attention to all the ingredients -- like sugar, sodium, and fat -- but also the calories as they pertain to the portion size," says Klein.

For example, while a bran muffin can be a good source of fiber, Somer says, a portion is 1 ounce. But the average muffin is 7 ounces.

"A lot of the good you get from the fiber, you can lose with the excess calories," says Somer.

Further, if the top of the muffin looks shiny, or if it leaves a slick taste in your mouth, chances are that the fat content is too high, she says.

If you're not sure how much a muffin weighs, experts say, don't eat more than half. Always skip the butter, and, whenever possible, choose a variety that is high in fiber (like bran or oat) and low in fat and sugar.

Heller tells WebMD that the same applies to a bagel breakfast.

"A whole-wheat bagel with some peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese can be a great 'take it with you' breakfast, but it becomes a bad choice if the bagel is something like 7 or 8 ounces," she says. (To put that into perspective, an 8-ounce bagel would measure about 4 _" in diameter.)

Again, if you don't know how much it weighs, eat only half, and embellish it with high-protein toppings like lox, peanut butter, or low-fat cheese.

And what about the classic continental breakfast of toast or an English muffin? Either can be a healthy choice, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

"First, make sure the bread is whole grain and the English muffin contains at least some whole grains," says Somer.

Next, skip the butter and jam and opt for almond, soy or any nut butter, or low-fat cottage cheese for protein (or try low-fat cream cheese).

You can swap out the toast for frozen waffles if you like, Heller says, but look for brands made with whole wheat, and with a minimum of sodium, sugar, and fat.

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