Even though research continually proves just how important eating a healthy breakfast is, it’s estimated that up to 40% of adults skip their morning meal time, while 12 to 32% of teens and adolescence regularly go without breakfast each morning. This behavior, though seemingly harmless, actually has shocking negative health implications. Making healthy breakfast choices is something everyone can do for better health.
The Importance of Eating a Healthy Breakfast
According to an Australian study on adolescent youth combined with many other scholarly studies, breakfast skippers had much poorer overall health compared to those who were breakfast eaters. It was found that breakfast skippers had:
- lower energy intake for the day
- worse vitamin and mineral consumption
- more of a tendency to eat high-fat snacks
- higher cholesterol levels
- poorer behavior, including being disruptive, inattentive, and apathetic
- worse social interaction
- poorer academic performance
- poorer cognitive functioning, including problem-solving and concentration
- correlation to higher mortality rates and overall poorer health
Studies have also shown that people who skip breakfast for weight loss reasons actually have higher BMIs (Body Mass Indexes) than those who eat nutritious carbohydrate-based breakfasts. Skipping breakfast may lead to decreased metabolism and be a contributing factor to obesity. Children who eat breakfast generally have a healthier diet and are more physically active, which helps prevent obesity.
Healthy Breakfast Choices
While simply eating something every morning is important to replenish blood sugar levels after up to 12 hours of fasting, the best healthy breakfasts have these components:
- a serving or two of whole grain
- a protein source
- a calcium source
- a serving of fruit (or vegetables)
While this may seem too complicated to think about at 6 a.m. in the morning, incorporating these four components into your breakfast is a lot simpler than you may think. A bowl of ready-to-eat whole grain cereal (grain) with a cup of milk (protein and calcium) and topped with a half-cup of berries (fruit) provides all the fuel and building blocks your body and mind needs to start functioning optimally.
Here are a couple other great healthy breakfast choices that think outside the cereal box:
- Breakfast sandwich: Toast a whole grain bagel or English muffin and sandwich a poached egg and slice of cheese in between; enjoy with a glass of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- Fruit and Yogurt Parfait: Layer a cup of any flavor yogurt with a cup of fresh or canned fruit and one-half to one cup of low-fat granola.
- Hearty Oatmeal: One-half to one cup of oatmeal made with a cup of milk and quarter cup of raisins or other dried fruit.
- PB&B: A peanut butter and banana sandwich on two slices of toasted whole wheat bread, wash down with a glass of milk.
Whipping up a homemade fruit smoothie or heating up leftovers are also options that take little effort. If it’s hard for you to fit breakfast in your schedule, learn some healthy breakfast recipes that can be prepared ahead of time and know some healthy breakfast ideas for when you are on-the-go.
Shaw, Mary E., “Adolescent Breakfast Skipping: An Australian Study.” Adolescence, Vol. 33, 1998.
Gardener, Amanda, “Skip Breakfast, Pack on the Pounds.” U.S News, March 3, 2008.
MayoClinic, “Healthy Breakfast: Quick, Flexible Options to Grab at Home.” Accessed September 17, 2010.