Breakfast: is it the most important meal of the day?

The VITL Nutrition Team / 30 Oct 2017

Are you the kind of person who’s day can’t begin without a bircher? Or are you in the 20 - 30% of adults who prefer to crack on and wait until lunch?


“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, or so the saying goes, but is it based on any evidence or is it just another old wives’ tale? 

Some new evidence might help shed a little light on the matter… 

A recent study from the American College of Cardiology has shown that skipping breakfast is associated with an associated risk of atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of arteries due to plaque buildup

Previous studies have already linked skipping breakfast to an increased coronary heart disease risk, but this is the first to evaluate the association between breakfast and the presence of subclinical atherosclerosis. 

Of the 4,052 participants, those who skipped breakfast or consumed a low-energy breakfast showed a higher incidence of atherosclerosis and were more likely to have:

  • A greater waist circumference
  • A higher body mass index
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher blood lipids
  • Higher blood fasting glucose levels.

Participants who skipped breakfast were also more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking. They were also more likely to be hypertensive and overweight or obese.

Researchers also pointed out that skipping breakfast can cause hormonal imbalances and alter circadian rhythms, so it’s well worth trying to get yourself into the habit if you suffer from mood swings or struggle with your sleep and energy levels.

So the question remains, what should you have for breakfast?

If you’re not in the habit, you might want to ease yourself into it. So before you start attempting to poach eggs at the crack of dawn, perhaps try some avocado on toast or a banana and a handful of nuts…

Why? Bananas and avocados are great sources of potassium, and, for the first time, researchers have now shown that foods rich in potassium could help prevent a hardening of the arteries - a key risk factor in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

They found that low consumption of dietary potassium increases the stiffness of arteries in a mouse model, whereas those fed a high-potassium diet had markedly better vascular function and less stiffness.

Bananas and avocados are also delicious additions to smoothies, making them thick, creamy and filling. Try adding a handful of berries, a banana, some oats and almond milk to a blender et voila! A perfectly balanced and nourishing breakfast for those on the go. 

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