It’s not news that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And while we all know processed starches like sugary cereals and bagels aren’t the best fuel sources, we couldn’t help but wonder whether there’s a hierarchy among healthy choices too, especially when it comes to drinking versus eating your morning meal.
So is a solid breakfast like avocado toast better for you than a liquid breakfast, like a green smoothie? We took it to an expert.
“The good news is that both choices have different advantages,” says Ellie Krieger, RD, nutritionist and host of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite. “Smoothies are beneficial because the blending process can help release more nutrients by breaking open the cell walls of foods.” Chewing can do this too, but a blender may work better for certain foods that are harder to chomp into tiny particles, like nuts.
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Research suggests another benefit of blended meals: One 2012 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed roast chicken and vegetables blended with water to form a soup felt fuller for longer in comparison to people who ate the same meal in solid form.
But you definitely don’t need to liquify your meals in order to reap benefits. “Solid breakfasts are great because they slow you down,” notes Krieger, so you have more time to really taste your food and register how full you feel. “And the process of chewing helps to trigger the release of satiety hormones in the gut, making you feel more satisfied.” So solid meals and smoothies can both leave you feeling satiated—as long as you use the right ingredients in each.
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The bottom line: When it comes to choosing the best breakfast for you, feel free to nosh or sip on your morning meal—as long as it’s packed with whole foods that offer a healthy balance of protein (think yogurt, peanut butter, or eggs), complex carbs (like the ones in oatmeal or veggies), and fiber.
“It all comes down to the quality of the ingredients,” says Krieger. Make sure it’s something that tastes great, so you consume it regularly and score the benefits.
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