The key to living a longer, healthier life might be (in part) what's on your breakfast plate.
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Yep, people in the blue zones — places in the world with the longest lifespans — tend to prioritize breakfast, eating most of their day's calories before noon.
Perhaps the link to longevity has to do with the many benefits of starting your day with brekkie, such as having a lower BMI and performing better on cognitive tasks, per Rush University.
But not all breakfast foods will optimize your health in old age (sugary cereals, bacon and sausage, we're looking at you).
If you want to add more candles to your birthday cake, try these 10 well-balanced breakfast recipes that are full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients that promote healthy aging.
1. Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast
If you want to stay sharp as you age, start your day with this smoked salmon avocado toast. Salmon is swimming in omega-3s, which help protect brain health, says Jen Bruning, RDN, a dietitian with expertise in nutrition for older adults and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In fact, a small study in the November 2014 issue of Cerebral Cortex found that taking omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of fish oil could improve cognitive performance and brain structure in older adults.
Get the Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Organic Chicken Breakfast Patties
These organic chicken patties are the perfect healthy alternative to highly processed breakfast sausage. Made with chicken breast, these palate-pleasing patties has 24 grams of protein per serving and are a stellar source of collagen, which supports healthy bones and skin, Bruning says.
Eating collagen-rich foods is especially important as we grow older as collagen naturally decreases with age. This drop in collagen can cause wrinkles, stiffer tendons and ligaments, weaker muscles, joint pain or osteoarthritis and even gastrointestinal problems, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Get the Organic Chicken Breakfast Patties recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Açai Berry Bowl
To get optimal amounts of free radical-fighting antioxidants in your diet, eat plenty of deep-hued plant foods such as rich red and purple fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, Bruning says. This smoothie breakfast bowl — brimming with a variety of vibrantly colorful produce like acai and spinach — ticks off the boxes.
"Antioxidants are the substances responsible for the bright colors in fruits and veggies, and they serve an important role in helping to protect us from inflammation, which can contribute to many chronic diseases," Bruning says.
Get the Açai Berry Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Blood Orange and Cashew Smoothie
With cashews and hemp milk, this sweet breakfast smoothie supplies brain-boosting omega-3s.
Plus the orange juice is filled with vitamin C, which not only supports your body's natural collagen production but also promotes a stronger immune system, Bruning says. Both are big benefits for healthy aging.
Get the Blood Orange and Cashew Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Steak Breakfast Burrito
The juicy sirloin in this breakfast burrito will make you salivate and satiate your stomach thanks to 29 grams of protein per serving.
Eating protein-rich foods can help you maintain your lean muscle mass, preserve strength and decrease the likelihood of falls and other injuries as you age, Bruning says. Adding a dollop of Greek yogurt to this delicious dish delivers an extra dose of the muscle-building macro.
Get the Steak Breakfast Burrito recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Ricotta and Pomegranate Bruschetta
While the savory antipasto is usually served as a starter dish, this sweet variation — with antioxidant-rich pomegranates and creamy ricotta — is hearty enough to stand alone as an a.m. meal.
Ricotta is ridiculously rich in calcium: A 1/2 cup contains 26 percent of your Daily Value (DV). Calcium is an electrolyte that's essential for healthy bones and proper muscle and blood vessel function, Bruning says.
"Calcium absorption also naturally declines with age, so getting several portions of calcium-containing foods every day is a good idea for older adults," she adds.
Get the Ricotta and Pomegranate Bruschetta recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Meatless Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Wrap
This mouthwatering meatless wrap provides plant-based protein from black beans and tofu. Just a 1/2 cup serving of tofu touts 19 percent of your DV of bone-supporting calcium.
But it's the touch of turmeric that makes this breakfast a game-changer for longevity. When older adults took curcumin (the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric), they experienced improved memory and a decrease in plaque formation associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to a small March 2018 study in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Get the Meatless Mexican-Inspired Breakfast Wrap recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Mushroom, Spinach and Caramelized Onion Omelet in a Jar
These savory omelets offer a variety of veggies — like red bell peppers and green baby spinach — so you can eat your way through the antioxidant-rich rainbow.
But it's the meaty portobello mushrooms, which contain 122 percent of your DV of vitamin D per raw cup, that make this egg breakfast a big bonus for healthy aging. "Vitamin D works with calcium to protect older adults from osteoporosis," Bruning says.
Plus, these outstanding omelets come perfectly portioned in mason jars to keep your serving size in check.
Get the Mushroom, Spinach and Caramelized Onion Omelet in a Jar recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Raspberry and Greek Yogurt Parfait
With three simple ingredients — raspberries, vanilla extract and Greek yogurt — this simple parfait is a solid solution for busy mornings.
And it's bursting with vitamin B12. Just 7 ounces (a little less than a cup) of low-fat Greek yogurt yields 43 percent of your DV of B12. Vitamin B12 promotes healthy blood and nerve cells and helps prevent certain types of anemia, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Getting plenty of vitamin B12-rich foods is fundamental especially for older people who are at risk of B12 deficiency because absorption of this nutrient naturally slows as we age, Bruning says.
Get the Raspberry and Greek Yogurt Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
10. Nutty Berry Quinoa Parfait
This layered parfait has everything you need to support longevity. Anti-inflammatory cinnamon. Check. Antioxidant-rich blueberries. Check. Omega-3-abundant walnuts. Check. High-protein plant-based yogurt. Check.
While you need less iron as you age (especially post-menopausal people), this mineral is still monumentally important for good health in older adults, Bruning says. That's because iron is indispensable for many functions including the transport of oxygen from your lungs to other parts your body, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Get the Nutty Berry Quinoa Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
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- Cerebral Cortex: “Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults”
- American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: "Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled 18-Month Trial"
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin B12"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Iron”
- Cleveland Clinic: “The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen”
- Rush University: “Why You Should Eat Breakfast”