Eating a morning meal is a healthy habit. Research shows that regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and dieters are more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—when they eat breakfast. What’s more, people who typically eat breakfast also get more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron—and less fat and dietary cholesterol. Perhaps it’s because they often eat cereal, which is fortified with vitamins and minerals, and fruit, which is naturally nutrient-rich.
Breakfast is good for your heart, too, according to new research in the October 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study found that people who skipped breakfast throughout childhood and as adults had higher “bad” LDL and total cholesterol than lifelong breakfast eaters. (They also carried more weight in their midsection.) Why skipping breakfast is linked with higher cholesterol isn't clear, but the findings support previous research, says study author Kylie Smith, M.S., of the University of Tasmania, Australia. Plus, she notes, eating breakfast has also been shown to improve concentration and mood.
Not hungry when you first get up? Don’t worry. Eating breakfast doesn't have to be the first thing you do each day. Just make sure that when you do eat, your meal is something that will sustain you for a few hours—it should include some fiber and protein.
The #1 Food You Should Eat for Breakfast:
It Has Fiber, Which Lowers Cholesterol
It’s got 4 grams of fiber per cup and research suggests that increasing your intake of soluble fiber (a type of fiber found in oatmeal) by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5 percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol. If I top it with fruit, like 1/4 cup of raspberries for example, it’s not only delicious, but I also tack on an additional 2 grams of fiber. That means I’m well on my way to that extra 5 to 10 grams of fiber with just my breakfast.
It Helps You Lose Weight
Oatmeal can also help you lose weight in two ways.
1. All that wonderful fiber makes you feel fuller longer, so sorry, second breakfast, you are no longer necessary.
2. According to a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition, eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, 3 hours before you exercise may help you burn more fat. Here’s why: in the study, eating “slow-release” carbohydrates didn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates, such as white toast. In turn, insulin levels didn’t spike as high, and because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower levels may help you burn fat.