Diet and nutrition – why breakfast matters

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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New research stands firmly behind what our mothers always told us about breakfast being the most important meal of the day.

According to the findings of a team of US-based researchers, putting something in your belly at the start of the day is highly preferable to the alternative.

The research team, from Harvard, studied 27,000 men between the ages of 45 and 82 over a comprehensive 16-year period. The study revealed some interesting facts.

Breakfast supports healthy hearts

For instance, over the duration of the research period there were 1,500 heart attacks or fatal heart failures. The findings of the study showed that those who regularly skipped breakfast were 27 per cent more likely to suffer heart problems than those who did not (bear in mind that the researchers adjusted for other lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and exercise).

Part of the reason for the salubrious effect of a good breakfast was simple: those who are less hungry by 10 or 11 in the morning will be less likely to feed on sugary snacks, which is what the body tends to crave when it has no fuel on which to run on.

It is believed that the reason behind this craving is that when we skip meals, our gut releases hormones that act on the orbital frontal cortex, priming it to steer our thoughts towards sugary and fatty treats.

This is likely a survival instinct to protect us in times of food shortages or famine when it is essential to get as many calories as possible. However, when food is plentiful, it leads to us eating more than is good for us – something that can over time place great stress on the body. Thus, in times of plenty, simply eating what is needed rather than what is craved is a wiser survival strategy.


Frank Bolger

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