Breakfast, among all meals during the day, is unique since it is consumed after a long night fast. Not only that, what and if we eat for breakfast have a great influence, even greater than the impact that other meals can have, on the state of health of the body and on the lifestyle adopted during the day. But let's understand better, deepening the importance of breakfast and which foods to prefer.
Why it is important not to skip breakfast
It has been observed that those who eat breakfast regularly have a greater supply of nutrients, such as vitamins C, A, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium (Gibney et al, Nutrients, 2018). Not only that, having breakfast helps improve the functionality of all organs. For example, those who skip breakfast have been found to have a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Gibney et al, Nutrients, 2018). Having breakfast improves attention, concentration and cognitive function (Adolphus et al, Front Hum Neurosci, 2013).
But what to eat for breakfast?
A breakfast of cereals and dairy products has been shown to reduce stress and depression levels in children and teenagers. Not only that, cereals, which are a valuable source of micronutrients, proteins, sugars and carbohydrates, when consumed for breakfast are associated with better physical and mental health and higher serenity (Gibney et al, Nutrients, 2018). In fact, after the long night fast, ingesting carbohydrates is particularly important for reducing cortisol levels, thus counteracting stress, and for the formation of tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, which helps regulate depressive symptoms, irritable mood and cognitive function (Ferrer Cascales et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health., 2018). Oats should be among the cereals to include in a healthy breakfast. In fact, a breakfast that includes oats has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing central adiposity and obesity, as well as ensuring a high intake of fiber, calcium and magnesium (Fulgoni et al, Nutrients, 2019). In addition to cereals, a healthy breakfast should not lack proteins, such as eggs, nuts or dairy products, according to personal taste. In fact, protein at breakfast has been shown to recharge the body with greater amounts of energy, to feed muscles more efficiently than protein taken at lunch or dinner and to reduce the risk of obesity (Kamada et al, Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench., 2011 - Leidy et al, Obesity, 2015).
The quality of breakfast matters
But beware, breakfast should be of high quality. In fact, ingesting large amounts of refined carbohydrates and added sugars can even worsen sadness and depression (Ferrer Cascales et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health., 2018). Therefore, it is always good to prefer whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products or vegetable alternatives, avoiding over-processed foods or snacks.
Do not forget the drinks, which can enrich breakfast and make it an even more pleasant and healthy moment. In fact, between coffee or tea, the choice is always healthy. Coffee provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances, thanks to its caffeine content it can help improve mood, attention and cognitive function, in addition to giving a boost to the metabolism and reducing the risk of obesity (Brice et al, Psychopharmacology, 2002 - Dulloo et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 1989). Green tea provides the precious polyphenols with an antitumor and neuroprotective action, it is beneficial for the health of the heart and blood vessels (Afzal et al, Inflammopharmacology, 2015). Black tea is anti-aging and anti-inflammatory and is also capable of improving the response to insulin and reducing blood glucose levels (Rasheed et al, Int J Health Sci, 2019). Not to forget, for those who love juices, that in a healthy and balanced breakfast it is also possible to insert a glass of a juice, pure and without added sugar, such as pomegranate juice, which helps to counteract oxidative stress and cellular degeneration (Zarfeshany et al, Adv Biomed Res, 2014).