You’ve surely heard the saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But is that just an old wives’ tale?
Not even close.
Research bears it out. Let’s take a look at three key benefits of this morning meal and just how easy it can be to up the health factor of yours.
1. Eating breakfast may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Researchers analyzed food survey data and health outcomes on almost 27,000 men over 16 years. They found that men who regularly skipped breakfast were 27 percent more likely to have a heart attack or die from coronary heart disease than men who ate a morning meal. Those who skipped breakfast were also hungrier later in the day and ate more food at night.1
2. Eating breakfast may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Scientists analyzed the eating patterns of over 46,000 healthy women over the course of six years. They found that women who skipped breakfast, even just once a week, had a 20 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes compared with women who ate a morning meal daily.2
3. Eating breakfast may help boost your memory.
Researchers examined 54 different studies on breakfast and breakfast composition and found that breakfast eating seems to improve memory in healthy adults and may have a positive effect on attention, motor, and executive function.3
The real power of breakfast
Why is breakfast so beneficial? After an eight-hour fast (or more), blood sugar is at an all-time low. If we don't replenish those stores, we may feel tired, our thinking may feel foggy, and we may feel the need to grab anything that looks tempting to eat.To make sure your breakfast is the healthiest it can be, choose a mix of foods that give you fiber-rich complex carbohydrates fiber, some lean protein, and a bit of healthy fat. Try a bowl of oatmeal topped with seasonal berries, Greek yogurt, and a few almonds. Top a slice of whole grain toast with a poached egg and sliced avocado. Or, serve up a bowl of quinoa mixed with raisins and almonds and a side of low-fat cottage cheese.
Here at Endurance Products, we’re partial to steel-cut oatmeal. Choose a topping suggestions below, and you can have a hearty meal that will keep you going until lunch is served!
Steel-cut (or Irish) oats are oat groats that have been cut into a few pieces, and are the next best thing to the whole oat groats. Here are two preparation suggestions, starting with an easy night-before method. (If you have a copy of Good Food, Great Medicine, you’ll find this recipe on page 129.)
(Makes 3 cups cooked oatmeal)
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup of steel-cut oats
- ½ teaspoon salt
Directions for night-before method:
Whisk water, oats, and salt in a 2-quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, and turn off heat. Cover pot and leave it sitting on the stove overnight.
In the morning, the oats will be soft and most or all of the water absorbed. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring. This will take about 5 minutes.
Directions for same-morning cooking:
Whisk water, oats, and salt in a 2-quart pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20–30 minutes, uncovered. Stir often to keep oats from sticking.
Pass on simple sugars that can spike your blood glucose or artery-clogging saturated fats (think butter). Instead, reach for toppings such as cinnamon, sliced banana, berries, raisins, slivered almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, walnut pieces, or ground flaxseeds. Add a splash of low-fat milk for a protein boost.
Note: If oatmeal seems too thin, keep in mind it will thicken as it cools.
If you have leftovers, scrape (while still warm) into a 9x5-inch Pyrex loaf pan or similar, and smooth top; when it cools it will be a handy little oat loaf. Cover and chill. The next morning, slice, heat, and serve.
1. Cahill LE, Chiuve SE, Mekary RA, et al. Prospective study of breakfast eating and incident coronary heart disease in a cohort of male US health professionals. Circulation. 2013;128(4):337-43. PMID: 23877060.
2. Mekary RA, Giovannucci E, Cahill L, Willett WC, van Dam RM, Hu FB. Eating patterns and type 2 diabetes risk in older women: breakfast consumption and eating frequency. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(2):436-43. PMID: 23761483.
3. Galioto R, Spitznagel MB. The effects of breakfast and breakfast composition on cognition in adults. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(3):576S-89S. Review. PMID: 27184286.