Breakfast Is Good For Your Heart
]]>Heart disease]]> and ]]>stroke]]>—are major killers of both men and women in the United States. There are many risk factors for heart disease. Two important risk factors are excess weight and ]]>diabetes]]>.
In a study, researchers found that among 2,831 study volunteers, those who ate breakfast were significantly less likely to be obese and develop ]]>type 2 diabetes]]> compared to those who did not eat breakfast.
Here’s how the factors relate: having diabetes increases the risk of heart disease. Being overweight increases the risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Certain lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise and healthful eating, can reduce the risk of all three—overweight, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. When these findings are put together, they point to breakfast as an essential component to a heart-healthy lifestyle.
How Breakfast Benefits the Heart
The exact effects of breakfast are not clear. One theory is that starting the day with a meal prevents a build-up of hunger and subsequent overeating later in the day, overeating that can lead to weight gain.
Another important theory relates to ]]> metabolic syndrome]]> and insuin resistance. This syndrome is a combination of risk factors—large waist circumference, ]]>high blood pressure]]>, high fasting levels of blood sugar, ]]>high levels of triglycerides]]>, and low levels of the good cholesterol (HDL). Excess body fat prevents insulin from working properly, therefore making the body insulin resistant. Metabolic syndrome can trigger the onset of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The good news is that insulin resistance syndrome and some cases of type 2 diabetes can be reversed or prevented through weight loss. Losing weight helps your body’s cells to be more responsive to insulin, and makes it easier to keep blood sugar levels under control.
Healthful Breakfast Options
So what should you eat for breakfast? Try to include some of each nutrient (carbohydrate, protein, and fat), and at least one serving of fruit or vegetables. Some options:
- One cup low-fat yogurt with fruit and ½ cup granola
- Two slices whole-grain bread with cottage cheese and a glass of orange juice
- One cup cold cereal topped with fruit and soymilk or milk (1% or skim)
- Choose cereals that are high in fiber (5 grams or more per serving), or “good” sources (2.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving); good choices include Shredded Wheat, Wheat Chex, All Bran, Bran 100%, Complete Bran Flakes, Raisin Bran, Grape Nuts, and Fruit & Fiber
- Two scrambled eggs with mushrooms (or other veggies) and 1 tablespoon of lite cheese wrapped in a warm tortilla
- Three whole-grain pancakes or waffles topped with lite syrup and fruit (go easy on the butter or margarine)
- Homemade breakfast shake—one cup milk or soymilk (skim or 1%), one scoop frozen yogurt, ½ cup pineapple juice, banana, and strawberry chunks (any combo of fruit will do)
- Breakfast bar with juice or milk (skim or 1%); choose a breakfast bar with 4 grams of fat or less, 3 grams of protein or more, and several vitamins and minerals
- Oatmeal with raisins or dried cranberries; or with applesauce and cinnamon
- ½ whole-wheat pita stuffed with a sliced hard-boiled egg, lettuce and tomato, with a piece of fruit
American Diabetes Association
American Dietetic Association
American Heart Association
Dietitians of Canada
American Dietetic Association. Hot cereal: a cool breakfast on a cold morning. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/. Accessed December 17, 2003.
American Dietetic Association. Trying to lose weight? Maybe you should have eaten breakfast. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/. Accessed December 17, 2003.
American Heart Association. Eating breakfast may reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/. Accessed December 3, 2003.
American Heart Association. Tips for eating breakfast. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1104. Accessed June 11, 2010.
Harvard Medical School. On the road to breakfast. Intelihealth website. Available at: http://www.intelihealth.com/. Accessed December 17, 2003.
Ma Y, Bertone ER, Stanek EJ 3rd, et al. Association between eating patterns and obesity in a free-living US adult population. Am J Epidemiol. 2003;158:85–92.
Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. A bagel or a donut? Available at: http://healthletter.tufts.edu/. Accessed December 12, 2003.
Last reviewed June 2010 by ]]>Brian Randall, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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