Supercharge your Breakfast

Breakfast is often regarded as the most important meal of the day — and yet grocery stores, drive-thrus, and coffee shops are still packed with calorie-dense and nutrient-shy foods like sugary cereals, processed grab-and-go meals, and pastries. No matter what you pick for breakfast, you can supercharge your meal with these tiny but nutrient-dense foods: they’ll not only boost energy and increase satiety but will add a much-needed dose of flavor.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds–yep, the same seeds that give rise to Chia Pets–expand up to three times their size when wet, meaning that they’ll add bulk and volume to your meals, thereby boosting satiety and improving digestive health. Two tablespoons will add 69 calories to your morning meal — a small price to pay for 2.3 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also a good source of calcium, phosphorus (essential for storing and using energy), magnesium, iron, selenium, and antioxidants. But best of all, they can be added to anything–cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, eggs, breakfast burritos, baked goods–making them a must-have morning condiment.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon isn’t just for oatmeal raisin cookies–sprinkle it in your oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, or smoothies and enjoy stable blood sugar levels to keep your energy and mood elevated all morning. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate rice pudding spiced with cinnamon experienced a lower rate of gastric emptying (which keeps hunger at bay) and a lessened rise in blood sugar following their meal. Cinnamon’s spicy scent is also a great cognitive booster: simply smelling it boosted study participants’ cognitive processing, allowing them to score higher on tests of attention, visual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are similar to chia seeds–they’re small but powerful and can be sprinkled on just about anything. With 75 calories per two tablespoons, flaxseed offers 2.6 grams of protein, 2.7 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds also boast lignans, fiber-like compounds that behave as antioxidants by scavenging free radicals and slowing the aging process. Buy whole flaxseed and grind them yourself; the polyunsaturated fats are degraded when they’re exposed to oxygen. If you’re short on time, pre-ground flaxseed is fine–just store them in the freezer to retain the most nutrients.

Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the many spices in curry and is responsible for the spice mixture’s rich, yellow hue. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is a polyphenol that demonstrates a wide range of antioxidant and inflammatory properties. Perhaps most notable is turmeric’s potential to fight Alzheimer’s disease: armed with the knowledge that elderly Indian populations (who generally have a high dietary intake of turmeric)  have significantly lower levels of the neurodegenerative disease, researchers have found that turmeric blocks the formation of Alzheimer’s-causing substances. But there are further benefits: it blocks cancer and tumor growth, improves functioning in arthritic patients, and helps to control pain. Add turmeric and pepper to egg dishes pre-cooking: piperine, a compound  in black pepper, increases curcumin’s absorption, as does heating it.