Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We know it – but we may not know why. Research suggests that people who don’t skip breakfast tend to weigh less than those who do. Breakfast is particularly important for diabetes prevention and management. The latest studies on breakfast and health have uncovered that eating your morning meal can greatly benefit your heart.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reviewed research conducted over the last few decades on heart health and breakfast consumption and concluded that eating breakfast is important for protecting your heart. Watching your diet can offer additional heart health benefits as well.
The AHA’s review uncovered that those who regularly eat breakfast generally have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, while skipping breakfast is linked to obesity, poorer nutrition, and even glucose metabolism problems including diabetes. Some of the studies suggested that making breakfast your largest meal of the day has improved glucose and insulin levels compared to having dinner as the largest meal of the day.
Study author Marie-Pierre St-Onge explained the importance of mindful eating for heart health, “We suggest eating mindfully, by paying attention to planning both what you eat and when you eat meals and snacks, to combat emotional eating. Many people find that emotions can trigger eating episodes when they are not hungry, which often leads to eating too many calories from foods that have low nutritional value.”
The AHA also laid out more specific advice for doctors, which we can take into account:
- Develop an intentional approach to eating. Consider the timing and frequency of meals and snacks.
- Use planned meals and snacks throughout the day. Mind your eating schedule. For example, have a healthy snack before a meal that could lead to overeating, to reduce the odds.
- Try to distribute your calories over a certain period of the day, for instance, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. And the extension of this is to have consistent overnight fasting periods.
- Try taking in a greater part of your total calories earlier in the day. This may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Consider “intermittent fasting,” if you can, as a way to reduce calories and lose weight.
- Use “added eating episodes to introduce a wider variety of healthful food options and to displace less healthful foods.” In other words, insert additional snacks or small meals—fruits and veggies and other healthy items—to leave less room for the other, unhealthier options we may be faced with.
How, when, and what we eat can have a feasible impact for our health so it’s important that you pay attention to your eating habits if you’re looking to improve your health. And always remember to enjoy your breakfast!