A new study published last week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that middle-aged men who skip breakfast are more likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease.
The news validates what scientists have long known: eating breakfast consistently pays off through nutritional and mental health benefits, both in children and adults.
“Breakfast happens to be the easiest time to get in heart-healthy fiber from whole grain cereal and oats, which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Lisa Mosokovitz, a registered dietitian and owner of Your New York Dietitians.
That’s not the only reason the first meal of the day is a particularly bad one to bypass. Here’s a few more:
Skipping breakfast makes you fat.
Breakfast-skippers have a higher risk of obesity, according to a 2003 study published in the journal of Epidemiology. Eating earlier in the day prevents people from overeating later in the day. It also suppresses concentrations of insulin, a hormone in our body that encourages fat cells to take up fatty acids and store them.
It makes you forgetful.
A small 2005 study published in the journal Psychology and Behavior [PDF], found that elementary school kids who ate a breakfast of oatmeal had better short-term memory than students who did not eat breakfast.
It increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Women who regularly miss breakfast have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes versus women who eat breakfast every day, according to a six-year study that was published in August in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.
It makes you mean.
Breakfast foods contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to jump-start your day. If you’re running on empty, it won’t be long before you begin feeling tired and cranky. A 1999 study published in the journal Psychology and Behavior showed that adults who kicked off the day with a solid breakfast had a “greater positive mood” than subjects who ate nothing.
It’s not just enough that you eat breakfast, but that you’re eating the right foods as well.
An ideal morning meal would be one that is low in sugar, saturated fat, and cholesterol, like a egg-white veggie omelet with avocado on whole wheat toast, says Mosokovitz.
“Always look for at least 5 grams of fiber when choosing breakfast cereals (which keeps you full for longer) and use any milk with 1% fat or less — no one over the age of two should be drinking higher fat cow’s milk.”