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Nutrition

Breakfast and beyond: The case for a healthy morning meal

May 01, 2017

A breakfast containing lean protein, whole grains, and fruit may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Image: © VeselovaElena/Thinkstock

Yes, you've heard it before — don't skip breakfast. Like many other popular sayings, this advice bears a kernel of scientific truth. But why is breakfast so important? "Quite simply, eating breakfast supports good health," says Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. Coming as it does after the day's longest period without food, breakfast seems to influence metabolism more strongly than lunch or dinner. Failing to break your fast with a meal shortly after rising might strain your body, which could in theory lead to insulin resistance, and perhaps even other heart risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol problems, though this is all controversial.

A healthy morning meal also appears to be helpful in maintaining a good body weight. It may be a coincidence, but the downward trend in breakfast consumption over the last 40 years has coincided with the surge in obesity rates over the same period. In contrast, breakfast eaters are about a third less likely to be overweight or obese, and tend to be more successful in maintaining weight loss after dieting. They also show greater restraint when it comes to impulse snacking and overeating at other meals.

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