These meals please cardiologists, neurologists, oncologists, dentists, and gastroenterologists.
Breakfast can seem unattainable some days. But making a healthy breakfast is easier than you think.
We asked 17 cardiologists, oncologists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, and dentists about their favorite breakfast foods and how their specialty affects them.
Experts often follow the Mediterranean, DASH, or MIND diets. These diets have been shown to lower blood pressure, cancer risk, and neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.
These three meal plans emphasize vegetables, fruit, whole grains, leafy greens, legumes, olive oil, nuts, and lean protein. These diets also limit red meat, alcohol, and sweets and avoid processed foods.
In practice, how does that look? The concepts of these diets help 17 doctors and experts across medical disciplines cook quick, healthy, full breakfasts every day.
Breakfast food for doctors:
Berries, seeds, and nuts oatmeal
Healthy, fiber-rich oatmeal was repeatedly mentioned. What makes oatmeal an excellent choice?
Dr. Wendy Ho, health sciences clinical professor at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, told TODAY.com that steel-cut oats are “high in fiber, including the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which keeps the gut regular and prevents constipation.”
Dr. Jennifer McQuade, like many of TODAY.com’s experts, tops her steel-cut oats with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit including flax, hemp, and pumpkin seeds.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center assistant professor and physician-scientist in melanoma medical oncology, McQuade, told TODAY.com, “I’m trying to get in lots of good fiber, as well as healthy fats with some seeds, and then the good phytonutrients from the dried fruit.”
Doctors like to add fresh fruit to their oatmeal, especially antioxidant-rich blueberries and raspberries.
Steel-cut oats take a long time to make in the morning, so some experts recommend making them overnight.
Dr. Susan Cheng, professor of cardiology and director of public health research at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, told TODAY.com that she makes overnight oats with chia seeds, a non-dairy milk alternative, frozen or dried fruit, nuts, and seeds to avoid saturated fat.
Rolling oats are another alternative. Ho said rolled oats have less fiber than steel-cut oats because the bran is removed, but they can be prepared faster and “retain many of the health benefits.”
Rolled oats “can be prepared relatively quickly and are not quite as processed as most instant oats,” Dr. Laura Stein, assistant professor of neurology at Mount Sinai, told TODAY.com. She likes to make them with water and skim milk, but no sugar.
Toast with avocado and whole grains
Medical workers also like whole-grain bread with avocado or peanut butter for breakfast.
Brooklyn dentist and American Dental Association spokesman Dr. Tricia Quartey prefers avocado toast. She often adds protein-rich egg whites. “Having the healthy fat keeps me full, but I’m also having a healthier carb to get me going in the morning,” Quartey told TODAY.com.
Morning avocado toast with pickles or onions is also a favorite of cardiologist Dr. Andrew Freeman.
“In just one little piece of toast, you have enough calories and sustenance to make it through until lunch and you feel good,” Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver, told TODAY.com.
Elizabeth Platz, a cancer epidemiologist and professor at Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, starts most mornings with peanut butter on whole-grain toast to lower blood sugar.
Dr. Mona Bahouth, assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, said some neurologists like to serve salmon on the side to “really balance some of the Mediterranean (diet) concepts.”
Berries in plain yogurt
“Almost every day, I have organic fresh fruit—whatever is in season—with plain, unsweetened yogurt “Dr. Caroline Tanner, professor of neurology at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at UCSF, told TODAY.com.
She, like many experts TODAY.com spoke to, prefers plain yogurt with fruit like berries to avoid additional sugar. Tanner may add walnuts or ancient puffed kamut to her yogurt.
A meal like this “provides great protein, it’s low in sugar and the berries have antioxidant properties,” said Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center medical oncologist Elizabeth Comen.
Doctor Erinne Kennedy, consumer advisor spokesperson for the American Dental Association and assistant dean of curriculum and integrated learning for Kansas City University College of Dental Medicine, told TODAY.com that Greek yogurt provides calcium and phosphate to keep teeth healthy.
To conclude, Kennedy noted that arginine, an amino acid found in many nuts and seeds, feeds healthy microorganisms and prevents tooth decay.
Dr. Kevin Sands, a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist who eats yogurt with an apple or pear, said it is “a good probiotic and it has a lot of calcium, which is good for the bones.”
What do rushing doctors eat? Smoothies!
Medical professionals, like everyone else, rush in the morning. Doctors may use portable homemade smoothies to have a satisfying, healthy breakfast on days when they don’t have time to cook or eat.
For instance, Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute Epilepsy Center director Dr. Imad Najm told TODAY.com that he often makes smoothies containing kale, spinach, and berries. Since “they will add fat and they contain quite a bit of minerals and antioxidants,” he usually adds pecans.
Dr. Irina Kessler likes green smoothies. Her go-to meal contains spinach, kale, frozen mango, lemon, banana, celery, and coconut water. However, New York Family Dental Arts dentist Kessler warns that this can discolor teeth and recommends drinking the smoothie through a straw while whitening.
Rather than a green smoothie, doctor Cheng’s heart-healthy recipes mix tomato and celery or carrots, apple, chia seeds, and ginger with water and ice.
Today, how do doctors feel about eggs?
Eggs remain controversial among doctors.
Some, like neurologists Najm and Stein, solely eat cholesterol-free egg whites. Others, including cardiologists Freeman and Cheng, eschew eggs.
But some eat whole eggs periodically. Oncologist McQuade makes pre-made frittatas with gut-healthy veggies and greens. Kessler sometimes brings hard-boiled eggs to work for breakfast in a hurry.
McQuade said whole eggs “are a great source of clean protein and some good fats,” but she consumes them sparingly.
Doctors avoid these breakfast foods:
Processing meats like bacon and sausage
Experts repeatedly advised TODAY.com to avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage.
“The big thing I see with the traditional American breakfast is that it’s often very high in red meat and processed meat, like bacon or sausage,” Cleveland Clinic colorectal oncologist Suneel Kamath told TODAY.com. He remarked, “I would stay away from those things and focus more on lean protein sources.”
“I try to minimize the amount of processed meats that I eat, as they are associated with stomach and colorectal cancer,” said doctor Ho. Neurologists like Stein noted, “I try to avoid processed meats all the time.” “And I do minimize unnecessary salt where I can.”
The experts observed that certain foods can be part of a social experience, therefore they shouldn’t be avoided at all costs. “These foods bring people together at the breakfast table and are enjoyed by many, so limit consumption and eat them rarely,” Ho said.
Sugary cereals, pastries, pancakes, waffles
Doctors told TODAY.com that donuts, pancakes, sugary cereals, and packaged toaster pastries are heavy in sugar and processed or simple carbohydrates with little nutritious benefit.
Simple sugars can sneak into many foods, especially morning foods, Bahouth noted. “Some of them just have no worth to your body or brain health.”
Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Adrienna Jirik told TODAY.com that she avoids “any sweets, and foods that are greasy, salty, overly processed, or anything with fake sugars,” including donuts and pastries, fast food breakfast sandwiches, and energy bars.
Jirik stated, “These are tried-and-true recipes for bloating, (indigestion), rapid blood sugar changes accompanied by lethargy or fatigue and fecal urgency with loose stools.
If you choose one of these sweets, wash your teeth afterward. KESSLER: “because it’ll be stuck in your teeth versus the yogurt that won’t.”