Better Health: The importance of breakfast
Don’t skip breakfast!
If you do, you will not have sufficient energy to perform daily activities.
If you don’t, you will also be less likely to overeat later in the day, you will lower your risk of acquiring non-communicable diseases and you would better manage your weight.
That’s the advice of dietician, Esther Selman, who said this applied to both children and adults.
“A study funded by the National Institute of Health found that men who skip breakfast have a 27 per cent higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to those who eat breakfast.
“Studies have demonstrated that those who eat breakfast regularly maintain their weight better than those who skip breakfast. Multiple studies of school age children have reported a significant increase in scholastic scores,” she said.
Selman cautioned that no positive benefits would be derived from consuming an unhealthy breakfast.
“You should avoid saturated fats. These fats increase bad cholesterol, which cause narrowing of the arteries and restrict blood flow. Instead, you should use healthy fats like olive oil, avocado pear, nuts and seeds,” she said.
The dietician advised that breakfast should include mainly macro nutrients and micro nutrients. “These macro nutrients, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, provide good nutrition to energise the body and prevent disease. Meanwhile, micro nutrients are vitamins and minerals that are obtained mainly from fruits and vegetables.”
The nutrition expert said that eating a larger breakfast and no dinner helps:
- Keep weight off
- Decreases ghrelin (a “hunger” hormone produced in the gut)
- Increases satiety
- Decreases hunger
- Decreases cravings
- Improves triglyceride (cholesterol) levels
According to Selman, a complete breakfast includes these two food groups:
- Complex carbohydrates – whole grains, ground provisions, starchy vegetables. Avoid processed carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice, refined sugar etc., because they are not the best food, contain no fibre, and can have damaging effects on the body. Excess sugar intake causes obesity, hyperglycemia, diabetes and other health problems.
- Low fat protein or plant-based protein – egg whites, lean meats/chicken, milk products, nuts, seeds, peas, beans and lentils. Protein makes up a significant part of the meal as it helps in growth, development, body building and repair.
While everyone can benefit from a complete breakfast, Selman said it was especially important for those who are vulnerable. So, infants and children, pregnant and lactating moms, people with chronic disease and critically ill patients should not skip breakfast.
She also said those who are struggling with having breakfast and managing a healthy diet should:
- Start by choosing a small meal
- Choose easy-to-prepare foods
- Incorporate your favourite healthy options
- Choose healthy grab-and-go foods
- Set SMART goals when selecting and managing a diet
- Choose a light supper so your stomach can rest. That way, it will be ready to receive breakfast the following day.
This article is brought to you by Better Health Magazine.