Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Mom always begged you to eat breakfast, saying it was the most important meal of the day. Once again, science proves that mom was right. Researchers from Japan’s Osaka University found that among its many benefits, eating breakfast every day could help ward off stroke.

The researchers followed 82,000 healthy men and women aged 45 and older for up to 15 years. The volunteers were classified as having breakfast up to two times a week, three to four times a week, five to six, or seven times a week.

Results, which were published in the journal Stroke, showed that eating breakfast decreased the risk of stroke, and the more days a week the participants had breakfast, the lower their risk. Those who ate breakfast the least had a 20 percent higher risk of stroke, especially a cerebral hemorrhage, when compared to those who ate breakfast the most.

Researchers theorize that skipping breakfast could lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol — both risk factors for stroke.

A study from Harvard Medical School found that skipping breakfast raises a man’s risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease.

Men who skipped breakfast were 27 percent more likely to develop heart disease, 15 percent more likely to gain a large amount of weight, and 21 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Eating breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day. “Studies have found that although people who skip breakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have higher body mass index, or BMI,” says Christy C. Tangney, a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center. A Finnish study found that children who skipped breakfast were more likely to be obese.

Other studies have found that eating breakfast can also help dieters stick to their weight-loss regimen. A study conducted at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that dieters who ate a healthy breakfast were more likely to avoid mid-morning snacks, and lost more weight than those who didn’t eat breakfast and succumbed to snacks.

Breakfast can also help academic performance. A report compiled by the Food Research and Action Center found that children who ate breakfast were able to learn better than those who didn’t eat breakfast. The report indicated not eating breakfast could lead to attention problems and lower math scores. Those who skipped breakfast were more likely to repeat a grade.

Be sure to put coffee on the menu. The list of coffee’s health benefits keeps growing. One recent study from the University of Southern California confirmed earlier studies that indicated coffee decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Dr. Stephen Gruber and colleagues found that one to two cups a day lowered risk by 26 percent, and those who drank more than two-and-a-half cups a day slashed their risk up to 50 percent. “The more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” Gruber said.

Coffee lowers the risk of other cancers as well, including breast, prostate, and liver. It also slows the onset of Alzheimer’s, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

You might also choose to include eggs. A study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge found that volunteers who ate an egg for breakfast had significantly lower levels of a hunger-stimulating hormone called ghrelin during the three hours following breakfast than when they ate cereal for breakfast.

Those who ate eggs also had higher levels of a hormone (PYY3-36) that signals fullness, and they reported feeling fuller before lunch. In addition, they ate less food at noon than those who ate cereal. “This study shows that diets with higher protein quality may enhance satiety, leading to better compliance and success of a weight-loss diet,” said researcher Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar.

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