Eating Breakfast Every Morning May Be Better for Your Heart
With all of the research dedicated to heart health and how we eat, we often get conflicting information. Many foods that were once maligned for being unhealthy are now promoted as healthy, helpful and necessary. You can learn more in our article about once-maligned foods that you should now be eating. If you ask strangers on the street about their belief in the importance of breakfast, most would likely have no idea. Some would swear by it, while others swear off it. In this article, we delve into misconceptions about breakfast and a recent study1 that suggests eating breakfast every morning may actually be better for your heart and your health.
Should you skip breakfast?
You will have undoubtedly heard, that as part of their diet program, friends or family members may be skipping breakfast because they believe that it causes weight gain. Some think fewer meals means fewer calories consumed. This simply isn’t true. A recent study has shown that patients with who eat breakfast every morning are significantly healthier that those that skip the meal. So, why do some believe that breakfast is so bad?
The misperception lies not so much in whether breakfast itself is bad, but what kind of breakfast is bad. Unfortunately, much like other less-than-ideal Western eating habits, many of us believe that breakfast food should be composed of bread, cheese, sugary drinks and more. But we don’t realize that simple modifications to our breakfast habits will not only give us more energy during the day, but also cut our caloric consumption significantly. Some of the worst offenders include:
With as much and sometimes even more sugar than a soda, fruit juices are regarded as breakfast staples. However, they only serve to spike our blood sugar levels, which invariably leads to a crash later on in the day. Further, fruit juices do not have filling fiber. Consider replacing orange juice with an actual orange or two. You will be consuming far less sugar and you will get the beneficial fiber that keeps you full and energized later on in the day.
Coffee has alternately been labeled as a miracle health product and a carcinogen…but coffee itself is not the problem. It is what we put inside that is the real concern. By the time we add sugar and milk, or worse yet half-and-half, we have essentially turned it into a milkshake. Black, unsweetened coffee itself has no calories, yet still offers that caffeine boost that you may need in the mornings.
In the Western diet, breakfast meats are expected to be fatty and greasy. Of course, these meats like sausage and bacon taste delicious for most, but they also add dangerous saturated fats and hundreds of calories to our diets. Yet proteins are excellent options for breakfast because they keep us full longer and help our muscles work more efficiently. Substituting these greasy meats with lean protein can be and an excellent option. Consider Canadian bacon, shrimp or crab, lean cuts of beef or chicken or even opt for turkey sausage or turkey bacon as alternatives.
And of course, we have bread. The ultimate continental breakfast will include delicious French pastries – buttery and flaky – and also highly caloric and almost completely devoid of nutrition. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, bread does not have to be a part of our daily breakfast. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables instead, which will fill you up and are most often low in calories. If you do include bread, opt for whole grains and avoid white or “multi-grain” options, which cut out the beneficial fiber.
Our take on breakfast
Based on this new study as well as general knowledge of historical eating habits, we believe that skipping breakfast can actually be detrimental to your heart health. Ultimately, moderation is the key to eliminating excess weight and promoting heart health. By skipping breakfast, we not only increase the risk of over eating during lunch and dinner, but we skip out on many of the foods that help level off blood sugar spikes and that provide useful vitamins. Our suggestion is not to skip breakfast, but to modify it in such a way that the first meal of the day becomes healthier and gives you the energy you need for an active day.
1Shuang Rong, Linda G. Snetselaar, Guifeng Xu, Yangbo Sun, Buyun Liu, Robert B. Wallace, Wei Bao. Association of Skipping Breakfast With Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Journal of the American College of Cardiology Apr 2019, 73 (16) 2025-2032; DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.01.065