The Most Important Meal of the Day
Although it’s easy to skip breakfast, this first meal of the day has a significant part to play not only in heart disease but also your overall health and well-being.
Heart Disease in the USA and Canada
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA and Canada's second leading cause of death (CDC, 2023 & PHAC, 2023). Even though heart disease affects millions in these two countries and around the world, there are practical steps that you can take every day to lessen your chances of becoming one of the heart disease death statistics.
One of the easiest and fastest lifestyle changes you can make to address your heart disease risk is dietary changes. These changes can include what you eat daily, but they can also change when you eat. For example, eating a healthy breakfast in the morning is essential for heart disease.
Why Eating Breakfast is Important for Heart Disease
Breakfast is widely known as the “most important meal of the day” (see also the 2014 study by O’Neil et al). Skipping breakfast doesn’t only sap your energy but often leads to low nutritional adequacy for the rest of your diet.
According to St-Onge & Ard et al (2017), some 74% of “adult breakfast skippers” (St-Onge & Ard et al, 2017) end up not meeting two-thirds (66%) of their Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamins and minerals. The 74% can be contrasted with the much lower 41% of those who eat breakfast.
Breakfast and Heart Disease Risk Factors
Along with eating a healthy breakfast also comes a lesser likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, including:
- Elevated LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol,
- Low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and
- Elevated blood pressure (St-Onge & Ard et al, 2017).
Because these cholesterol and blood pressure risk factors contribute to higher incidents of heart attacks, lowering your chances of developing these unwanted risk factors in the first place will, in turn, lower your chance of having a heart attack or developing or exacerbating existing coronary heart disease (CHD) (St-Onge & Ard et al, 2017).
What to Eat for a Healthy Breakfast for Heart Disease
However, eating breakfast for better heart health doesn’t mean that a breakfast of only sugary cereal will do the same for your health as eggs, whole grain toast, and avocado, for example. Many breakfasts are recommended for heart health, including these by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada:
- Soft cooked egg on whole wheat toast with orange slices.
- Whole-grain pita pocket with peanut butter or banana slices in plain yogurt.
- Whole-grain English muffin with melted cheese and apple slices.
- Scrambled eggs with red peppers and salsa wrapped in a tortilla.
- Cheese with whole-grain crackers and sliced tomatoes.
- Scrambled eggs, whole-grain toast, one cup of milk and sliced apples.
- Greek yogurt with whole-grain cereal and berries.
- Whole-grain toast with peanut butter or alternative, sliced apples and one cup of milk.
- Yogurt parfait with plain yogurt, ground flax seeds or muesli and fresh fruit.
To keep your heart in tip-top shape and reduce your heart disease risk, you need to consume all the nutrients that your body needs and get proper exercise, etc. The St-Onge & Ard, et al (2017) study shows that skipping breakfast can harm the body and the heart while eating breakfast can help to keep your heart healthier for longer.
- Centers for Disease Control, USA, Heart Disease Facts. Accessed 12 February 2023.
- Canadian Government, Heart Disease in Canada. Accessed 12 February 2023.
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, accessed 12 February 2023.
- Leidy HJ. The Benefits of Breakfast Consumption to Combat Obesity and Diabetes in Young People. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2013;7(2):99-103. doi:10.1177/1559827612468687 Accessed on 12 February 2023.
- O’Neil CE, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Hayes D, Jana L, Klinger SE, Stephenson-Martin S. The role of breakfast in health: definition and criteria for a quality breakfast. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014; 114(suppl):S8–S26. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.08.022. Accessed on 12 February 2023.
- Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Jamy Ard, Monica L. Baskin, Stephanie E. Chiuve, Heather M. Johnson, Penny Kris-Etherton and Krista Varady and On behalf of the American Heart Association Obesity Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young; Council on Clinical Cardiology; and Stroke Council Originally published 30 2017