Want a Healthy Heart? Eat Breakfast

By Joy Saudargas, RD, LDN, Clinical Nutritionist within the Crozer Keystone Health System

1015008_14776542“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We’ve been hearing this mantra for a long time. But no matter how old that statement gets, it still rings true.

Eating a healthy breakfast not only gives you energy to start a new day and perform your best, but it has also been linked to many health benefits, including a healthy heart.

Specifically, making time for breakfast lowers your risk of heart disease. Researchers found that men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who did eat breakfast.

So how does skipping your morning meal impact your heart health? Studies have shown that those who don’t eat breakfast tend to be hungrier later in the day and eat more food at night, which can lead to metabolic changes and heart disease.

People who skip breakfast are 15 percent more likely to gain a substantial amount of weight and are 21 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. And being overweight or obese and being diabetic are both risk factors for heart disease.

Regularly skipping breakfast can also lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Those health issues coupled with obesity and diabetes can lead to a heart attack over time.

While eating breakfast can counteract these health issues, not all breakfasts are created equally. For instance, grabbing a donut doesn’t stand up to the healthy benefits of low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit for your morning meal.

Eating a healthy breakfast provides you with a nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep you going all day long.

ckhs-stock-images-218Making yourself a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some delicious, high-fiber options to help you start your day and keep you feeling full longer.

Whip up a blackberry yogurt parfait in just minutes – layer blackberries and low-fat vanilla yogurt and top with a tablespoon of granola. You can also use blueberries or strawberries in place of blackberries.

You can also pick up a high-fiber cereal at the store. When the alarm goes off in the morning, top your cereal with fruit and low-fat milk. Make sure your cereal has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, such as shredded wheat or bran flakes. Berries are high in fiber, so consider topping your cereal with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries.

Don’t have time for meal prep in the morning? Try this breakfast chia seed pudding from Food52 – you make it the night before so you can grab and go in the morning.

If you like oatmeal, make it with non-fat or low-fat milk and top it with a tablespoon of dried fruits and unsalted nuts. Apricots, dates, plums and raisins have the most fiber of dried fruits. You can even add flax seeds for an added crunch and punch of fiber.

You can also try EatingWell.com’s oatmeal rhubarb porridge recipe.

1106967_52165191If you have leftover broccoli or spinach in the fridge, don’t let it go to waste. You can toss them into some scrambled eggs. Pair your veggie scramble with a side of whole grain toast and a glass of tomato juice for a healthy, quick and fiber-rich breakfast.

Swap your regular toast for Ezekiel bread – it doesn’t contain added sugars and it’s made from organic sprouted whole grains. That means it’s chock full of fiber. Try this for breakfast: drizzle your Ezekiel toast with olive oil, mash half of an avocado on top, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Avocados are high in fiber as well.

And if you only have five minutes, grab your blender and make a berry-flaxseed smoothie or a blueberry-orange yogurt smoothie from Reader’s Digest.

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