Morning Glorious!

Start your day with deliciously healthful herbal scones, muffins, and bread.

What’s on the menu at the top of every day can make or break the morning’s activities for adults and children alike. We know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but science recently has stretched that tenet to prove those first bites at daybreak affect our energy, mood and ability to function at peak capacity right through to bedtime.
Recent research on the glycemic index {which lists foods from high to low in their ability to boost blood sugar levels} indicates slow-digesting protein and whole-grain breakfast foods provide energy and food satisfaction that can last into the evening. This is very good news because it means a well-planned breakfast can curb endless munching later in the day; keep irritability in check; and best of all, promote fat breakdown instead of its storage.
According to this new information, top-of-the-morning meals of whole grains, fruit or vegetables, cheese, yogurt, chicken and/or fish are the very best healthy breakfast combinations. But you don’t need to completely give up your old favorites-most traditional breakfast foods can be tweaked and teamed with lower-glycemic ingredients to create delicious dishes packed with enough fuel to power you through even the most challenging day.

The Critical Role of Herbs

Fresh potager {kitchen garden} herbs are key to revamping outdated breakfast foods. Rosemary, parsley, tarragon, thyme, sage, dill, mint, lemon balm, oregano, basil, marjoram and savory give whole grains and other breakfast foods a flavor spike. What’s more, herbs do not even appear on the glycemic radar, making them wise additions to breakfast foods.
When it comes to replacing salt, fat, and sugar in breakfast fare, herbs are flavor hero’s

. Factor in their medicinal properties and dietary nutrients and it becomes clear that herbs are essential breakfast ingredients. Fresh rosemary, for example, contains compounds useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation and improving concentration. Most herbs also contribute significant amounts of vitamins A and C, some vitamin B, folate and a wide variety of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc all nutrients we need to get going and stay alert.

To ease your transition to healthier breakfast habits, start by stocking your refrigerator and freezer with whole-grain staples. Our updated low-fat, low-sugar, high-herb muffins, scones, quick bread, and biscuits are easy to make in advance. All can be stored in airtight containers to last into the work week. Add low-fat cheese, yogurt or leftover chicken or fish, and these homemade power foods provide a complete and convenient morning meal. Make them on the weekend or the night before, then simply grab and go.
Chopping fresh culinary herbs into whole-grain breakfast recipes is a great way to enhance the most important meal of the day. For maximum breakfast goodness, try these tips:
* Sprinkle up to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon { Cinnamomum cassia} over whole-grain cereal or yogurt.
Preliminary evidence indicates cinnamon can lower blood glucose.
* Use stevia {Stevia rebaudiana}, a sweet-tasting herb, whenever possible as a sugar replacement.
* Anise-flavored herbs, such as sweet cicely, chervil and tarragon, complement stone fruits {peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries} and whole-grain baked goods.
* Try lemon herbs, such as lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon thyme and lemon-scented geranium leaves, with citrus fruits and strawberries. Also, add them to yogurt; or use the leaves to make a refreshing morning tea blend.
* Mints in the morning are stimulating. Just 1 tablespoon fresh chopped peppermint, hyssop, lemon balm, catnip or any mint-flavored scented geranium leaves will perk up breakfast melons, berries, or yogurt smoothies.

Looking for the Best Antioxidant Fruit? Search No Further than Black Raspberries

The science behind superfood stories: Antioxidant properties of raspberry and blackberry fruits grown in Central Europe.

As far as healthy foods go, berries make the top of the list. They contain potent antioxidants, which decrease or reverse the effects of free radicals – natural byproducts of energy production that can play havoc on the body and that are closely linked with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke or respiratory diseases.

Unsurprisingly, the benefits of berries are extolled in one study after another. It is usually the exotic Goji, Acerola or Acai berries that make the headlines as Superfoods, but for the health-savvy European consumer, the native homegrown species could be even more alluring. The current study from the University of Agriculture in Krakow shows what’s in store for Old Continent foodies in the berries department. The research published now in Open Chemistry suggests that black raspberries grown in Central Europe show greater health benefits than their better-known cousins – raspberries or blackberries.

A group of researchers led by Anna Małgorzata Kostecka-Gugała measured the content of phenolics and anthocyanins in black raspberries, red raspberries, and blackberries, assessing their antioxidant potential and health benefits. They were able to confirm that the antioxidant activity of natural products correlates directly with their health promoting properties.

It turns out that a number of antioxidants in black raspberries was three times higher than the other fruits under investigation. Remarkably, the number was even higher for phenolics or a number of anthocyanins – with black raspberries topping their humble cousins by over 1000%. But most interestingly, black raspberries seem to be characterized by a higher content of secondary metabolites, which have been proved beneficial for human health.

The Central Europe-grown variety of black raspberries showed greater health benefits than raspberries and blackberries. As there are no significant difference fruits collected in either summer or autumn they should remain a solid staple of our diet throughout the seasons.

Raspberries: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information

Known as nature’s candy, wild raspberries have been gathered for consumption by humans for thousands of years.

With their rich color, sweet juicy taste, and antioxidant power, it is no wonder raspberries remain one of the world’s most consumed berries.

Raspberries can range in color from the popular red and black varieties to purple, yellow, or golden. Each color berry has a unique composition of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

This article will address the health benefits of the most widely consumed red raspberry. It provides a nutritional breakdown of a raspberry and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more raspberries into your diet, and any potential health risks of consuming raspberries.

Fast facts on raspberries

Here are some key points about raspberries. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

  • Some researchers believe raspberries hold a number of health benefits
  • Raspberries contain powerful antioxidants
  • A certain component in raspberries may protect the eye from sun damage
  • There is limited evidence that raspberry ketones help increase weight loss

Possible health benefits of consuming raspberries

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like raspberries decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.


Several animal studies have shown a positive correlation between intake of flavonoids in berries and memory improvement; they may also decrease the decline in cognitive ability related to aging.

Heart health

A recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition-associated the intake of flavonoid-rich foods like raspberries with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. They stated that even small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial.

One group of flavonoids in particular – anthocyanins – have been shown to suppress the inflammation that may lead to cardiovascular disease.

Raspberries can range in color with each color berry having a unique composition of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The high polyphenol content in raspberries may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet buildup and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D., MSc, BSc, a nutrition professor at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, led an 18-year study with Harvard Public School of Health that tracked 93,600 women aged 25-42.

She states that their study was able to show “for the first time that a regular, sustained intake of anthocyanins from berries can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 32 percent in young and middle-aged women.”

The potassium in raspberries supports heart health as well. In one study, participants who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 milligrams per day).5

Cancer prevention

Raspberries contain powerful antioxidants that work against free radicals, inhibiting tumor growth and decreasing inflammation in the body. Those same potent polyphenols that protect against heart disease also help ward off or slow many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate, and colon.

Diabetes management

Any plant food with skin has lots of fiber – and raspberries have lots of skin! Eating high-fiber foods help keep blood sugar stable. Studies have shown that type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.

Digestion, detox, and disease prevention

The fiber and water content in raspberries help to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation; consequently, this decreases the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Kentucky, high fiber intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

Women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should aim for about 30 grams. One cup of raspberries provides 8 grams of fiber.

Easy on the eyes

Foods high in vitamin C like raspberries have been shown to help keep eyes healthy by providing protection against UV light damage.

Raspberries also contain the antioxidant zeaxanthin, which filters out harmful blue light rays and is thought to play a protective role in eye health and possibly ward off damage from macular degeneration.

A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of, and progression of, age-related macular degeneration.

Nutritional breakdown of raspberries

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of raspberries (about 123 grams) contains 64 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 0.8 grams of fat, and 15 grams of carbohydrate (including 8 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar).

Eating one cup of raw raspberries will provide 54 percent of your vitamin C needs, 12 percent of vitamin K, 6 percent of folate, 5 percent of vitamin E, iron, and potassium, and 41 percent of manganese needs for the day as well as lesser amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper.

Raspberries contain the antioxidants alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline.

Raspberries are also a good source of polyphenols such as anthocyanin, flavonols, and ellagitannins, which decrease oxidative damage from free radicals and have shown potential in animal and human studies for preventing or reducing the risk of chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease.

How to incorporate more raspberries into your diet

raspberry smoothie
Keep a bag of frozen raspberries on hand for adding to smoothies and oatmeal.

Raspberries are available fresh, frozen, freeze-dried, and in jellies, syrups, and jams. Most raspberry jellies, spreads, juices, and wine have added sugars, which tack on additional calories.

When looking for jellies or jams, go for all-fruit spreads without the added sweeteners and fillers.

Make sure to check the label of frozen and dried raspberries, which may also have added sugars.

People who tend to eat at least three servings of berries per week see the most benefits. The best way to eat raspberries is fresh, right out of your hand (after washing of course).

Here are some other tips to help increase your raspberry consumption:

  • Always keep a bag of frozen raspberries on hand for adding to smoothies and oatmeal
  • Forgo the syrupy sweetness of canned fruit cocktail and make your own fresh fruit cocktail with raspberries, pineapple, sliced peaches, and strawberries
  • Add raspberries, grapes, and walnuts to your chicken salad
  • Slice raspberries and add them to plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of agave nectar and sliced almonds
  • Top whole grain waffles or pancakes with fresh raspberries or fold them into muffins and sweet bread
  • Blend raspberries in a food processor with a little water and use as a fresh syrup to top desserts or breakfast foods
  • Mix raspberries into a spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese

Possible health risks of consuming raspberries

Each year, the Environmental Working Group produces a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue. Raspberries are 23rd on the list of produce that they suggest should be bought in its organic form to ensure a lower risk of pesticide exposure.

But don’t worry if you can’t find organic; the nutritional benefit of eating conventionally grown (non-organic) produce far outweighs the risk of not eating the produce at all.

Of note, raspberries in supplement form are also being studied for their ability to help with weight loss and combat obesity. Research remains in the early stages, and there have been no human studies to date to prove the effectiveness of supplements like raspberry ketones and extracts, which often have stimulants like hoodia and caffeine added.

There is no doubt that incorporating low-calorie, high nutrient foods like raspberries as part of an overall healthy diet will support weight loss, but the ability of concentrated formulas in the form of a supplement to help with weight loss is uncertain at best.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Eating Breakfast Reduces Cravings, Overeating

A small study finds when late-teen girls eat breakfast, it raises levels of a chemical in the brain’s reward center that may help them stop craving sweet foods and overeating during the rest of the day.
[breakfast bowl]
“It used to be that nearly 100% of American adults, kids and teens were eating breakfast,” Prof. Leidy says, “but over the last 50 years, we have seen a decrease in eating frequency and an increase in obesity.”

Writing in the Nutrition Journal, a team from the University of Missouri in Columbia notes that since over a third of American teenagers are overweight or obese and most of them will remain so in adulthood, focusing on young adults is an important way to prevent the perpetuation of the obesity epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report many teenagers don’t eat breakfast and this likely increases the chance they will overeat and put on weight, they add.

Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, and colleagues, explain that the number of US teens struggling with obesity – which raises the risk they will have life-long health problems – has quadrupled in the last 30 years.

In their study of a small group of young women, they found eating breakfast increases levels of the brain’s reward chemical dopamine which is involved in controlling impulses. As these levels increase, they appear to reduce food cravings and overeating.

They suggest understanding how dopamine changes in the brain affect food cravings could help us develop better ways to prevent and treat obesity.

Prof. Leidy says they found, “people experience a dramatic decline in cravings for sweet foods when they eat breakfast.”

“However,” she adds, “breakfasts that are high in protein also reduced cravings for savory – or high-fat – foods. On the other hand, if breakfast is skipped, these cravings continue to rise throughout the day.”

For their randomized, crossover study, the team recruited 20 overweight girls aged between 18 and 20 who normally skipped breakfast. Each participant underwent three types of 7-day eating patterns.

In one pattern, the participants ate a 350-calorie breakfast with normal amounts of protein, in another pattern they ate a 350-calorie breakfast with high protein, and in the third pattern, they skipped breakfast. After completing a 7- day pattern, they then had a 7-day “washing out period” before embarking on the next 7-day pattern.

In each of the 7-day patterns, on the morning of the seventh day, the girls underwent assessments, which included filling in food craving questionnaires. Fluctuation in dopamine was also assessed by checking dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid levels in regular blood samples taken through the morning.

Eating breakfast followed by reduced cravings

The results showed both breakfast meals were followed by reduced cravings for sweet and savory foods and higher levels of dopamine metabolite.

Also, compared to a normal protein breakfast, the high-protein breakfast tended to be followed by greater reductions in cravings for savory food and sustained levels in dopamine metabolite up until lunch.

Prof. Leidy explains that when we eat, our brain releases dopamine, which stimulates feelings of reward. This response is an important part of eating because it helps to regulate food intake. However:

“Dopamine levels are blunted in individuals who are overweight or obese, which means that it takes much more stimulation – or food – to elicit feelings of reward; we saw similar responses within breakfast-skippers.

To counteract the tendencies to overeat and to prevent weight gain that occurs as a result of overeating, we tried to identify dietary behaviors that provide these feelings of reward while reducing cravings for high-fat foods. Eating breakfast, particularly a breakfast high in protein, seems to do that.”

Although the study only included young women, the team believes the findings also apply to all adults.

More and more Americans skipping breakfast

More and more Americans are skipping breakfast, Prof. Leidy continues, and this is linked to food cravings, overeating, and obesity:

“It used to be that nearly 100% of American adults, kids and teens were eating breakfast,” she adds, “but over the last 50 years, we have seen a decrease in eating frequency and an increase in obesity.”

In January 2014, Medical News Today also learned how metabolic syndrome and poor breakfast habits in childhood may be linked. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that are associated with heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Researchers in Sweden found metabolic syndrome in adults was related to the type of breakfast those same adults had eaten as children.

Eat Breakfast to Improve Your Heart Health

A new study appears to confirm that when you eat is just as important for health as what and how much you eat.

US researchers asked men to complete questionnaires about what they ate and when they ate it, then tracked their health for 16 years. Those who said they skipped breakfast were found to have a higher risk of heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease.

Lead author Leah Cahill, of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and colleagues, write about their findings in a July 23rd issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

In a statement, Leah Cahill, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at HSPH, explains what may lie behind the findings:

“Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.”

For their study, the researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaires completed by 26,902 male health professionals aged between 45 and 82 years and tracked their health for 16 years from 1992 to 2008. The men were free of heart disease and cancer at the start of the study.

Over the follow-up, 1,572 men experienced non-fatal heart attacks or died of coronary heart disease.

When they analyzed the data the researchers found men who said they did not have breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than men who said they ate breakfast.

Men who skipped breakfast had other risk factors

The men who said they skipped breakfast tended to be younger, single, smokers, who worked full time, did not do much exercise and drank more alcohol.

The researchers also found when they adjusted the results to take out the effect of body mass index, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, the links between skipping breakfast and higher risk for heart attack or death from coronary heart disease became much weaker: they were no longer statistically significant.

They note this suggests “eating habits may affect the risk of coronary heart disease through pathways associated with these traditional risk factors.”

They also found no links between how many times a day the men said they ate and risk of coronary heart disease.

Eating late at night linked to heart disease

They did find a link, however, between eating late at night and coronary heart disease. Compared with men who said they did not eat late at night, among those who did, there was a 55% higher risk of coronary heart disease.

But the authors note that judging by the few men in the study who ate late at night, this was unlikely to be a major public health concern.

Leah Cahill says the message from the study, which reinforces previous research, is: “Don’t skip breakfast.” Eating a healthy meal at the start of the day is linked to lower risk of heart attacks.

Breakfast tips

Incorporate many types of healthy foods into your breakfast, Leah Cahill advises – as this is “an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.”

Bowl of breakfast cereal
Adding nuts and chopped fruit to cereal is “great way to start the day,” the authors say

If eating a bowl of cereal, try adding nuts and chopped fruit, or steel-cut oatmeal. This is a “great way to start the day,” Leah Cahill adds.

Senior author Eric Rimm, associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, says the team has spent decades looking at the effects of quality and composition of diet on health, and now this new study suggests overall dietary habits should also be considered in lowering risk of heart disease.

At a conference in 2012, UK scientists presented a study that explained why people who skip breakfast tend to find high-calorie food more appealing later in the day: their brain circuits may be primed toward seeking it when fasting.

Comments from heart health charity

The British Heart Foundation’s senior dietitian, Victoria Taylor, has responded to the current research news on breakfast benefits. She says:

“In the morning rush it can be all too easy to skip breakfast, but this study suggests this could have a bigger impact on our health than we might think.

However, these researchers only looked at men aged over 45, so we would need to see further research to confirm that breakfast has the same impact on the heart health of other groups of people.”

Victoria Taylor adds:

“What we do know is that a healthy and filling breakfast can make that mid-morning biscuit less tempting, as well as give you another opportunity to widen the variety of foods in your diet.

“Wholegrain toast or cereals like porridge with low-fat milk are a good way to start the day. Try a sliced banana or dried fruit on top and you’ll be on your way to five-a-day before you’ve even left the house.”