World Heart Day: Break that fast!

September 28, 2019 2:21 PM

Several research studies have shown that breakfast eaters are less predisposed to overweight and obesity and often have healthier body weights.

world heart day, world heart day 2019, cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure, diet,Most of us are guilty of skipping breakfast some time or the other.

By Nadiya Merchant

On World Heart Day, it’s important to picture a typical morning of your life. The alarm rings. You struggle to open your groggy eyes and get out of bed. Your feet have hardly hit the floor and the race against the clock begins to get ready for work. You find time to catch up on the emails, news of the day, prepare meals for your child’s school, wake her up to catch the bus in time, and get ready yourself to reach work. By now, you might be running late. The usual scapegoat is ‘breakfast’.

Yes, most of us are guilty of skipping breakfast some time or the other. This can be substantiated by the research study ‘Nutritional Adequacy of Breakfast: Its relationship to daily nutrient intake among children, adolescents and adults’ (conducted by Research Centre, College of Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai, India), according to which every 1 in 4 urban Indian claims to skip breakfast and 72% of urban Indians do not have a nutritionally inadequate breakfast meal. This doesn’t come as a surprise because as per the same study, a mere 3% regard breakfast as essential.

Why is breakfast essential for your health?

To understand this, let us first understand what breakfast means.

The word ‘breakfast’ is derived from the phrase ’breaking the fast’ with the first meal of the day. We are fasting when we are asleep at night. For some people, especially younger children this fast can last for over 12 hours at times. This makes breakfast the most important meal of the day since the body and mind get replenished with nutrition after a long interval of time. It is important to have a balanced breakfast to help you kick-start your energetic day.

READ | Eat right to stay light! Whole grain consumption can help keep cardiovascular diseases at bay

What is a balanced breakfast?

A balanced breakfast should refuel the body and brain, kick-start the metabolism and give the energy required to embrace the morning and get you ready to face the day. It should have the required nutrients and low in calories, with the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals. These can be found in many groups of foods namely. One serving from each of these food groups can give a balanced start to the day.

Cereal: A Good Friend

Cereals are an important component of a balanced diet. Typically low in fat and naturally cholesterol-free, cereals are best consumed with milk or curd/ yoghurt. Cereals with milk are a leading source of nutrients and also provide dietary fibre. Studies indicate that a high-fibre diet improves digestive health, aids weight loss, brings down blood cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

A regular balanced breakfast helps in many ways!

  • Weight management
    Several research studies have shown that breakfast eaters are less predisposed to overweight and obesity and often have healthier body weights.
  • Optimum nutrient intake
    Regular breakfast consumption leads to improved nutrient intakes. Consumption of a balanced breakfast leads to higher intakes of dietary fibre, vitamin C and key essential B group vitamins; calcium, , folate and iron nutrients that help in growth and development.
  • Physical and mental well-being
    Children and adolescents who consume breakfast daily tend to be more physically active which also takes care of their physical and mental well-being.
  • Better academic achievement
    Research study conducted by Adole et al (2014), Ptomey et al (2016) and Littlecot et al (2016) demonstrated that in children, regular breakfast consumption is associated with improved cognitive functions such as memory and attention. Good memory and longer attention span contributes to higher scores in competencies such as language, mathematics, problem solving and science.

So for benefits galore, find the time to unwind, sit back and ‘break that fast’ with a balanced breakfast every morning! Enjoy a hearty, healthy life!

(Nadiya Merchant is Lead – Nutrition & Scientific Affairs, Kellogg South Asia. Views expressed are personal)

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