Perhaps the saying is right and “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” seeing that the American Heart Association determined that having breakfast is almost always good for the heart, considering that it is equally important to have several balanced and healthy meals throughout the day.

The conclusion was that planning ahead meals and snacks made it harder to skip meals such as breakfast, and consuming higher amounts of calories first thing in the morning “might help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.” Also, the analysis took into account previous studies, getting to the conclusion that it is necessary to survey the cardiovascular health of patients over a long period to show how certain meals and their time of consumption affect disease risk rates.

Mediterranean Breakfast
Mediterranean breakfast. Image credit:

After all these years it’s still the most important meal of the day

The latest statement on cardiovascular health was published in the AHA journal Circulation, assuring that the time at which we eat our meals is significant for altering the risk factors for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular illnesses.

Bacon Pancakes
Bacon Pancakes. Image credit:

“Meal timing may affect health due to its impact on the body’s internal clock. In animal studies, it appears that when animals receive food while in an inactive phase, such as when they are sleeping, their internal clocks are reset in a way that can alter nutrient metabolism, resulting in greater weight gain, insulin resistance, and inflammation,” stated Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D., associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University.

A healthy diet with high contents of fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, and vegetables appears to be key for having an acceptable quality of life. It is also important to reduce the intake of red meat and processed foods with high contents of salt or sugar.

The statement is based on how the timing of a meal influences cardiovascular health, suggesting that there is a link between lower heart disease risk and a timely breakfast.

According to AHA, previous studies reveal that people who ate a daily breakfast were less likely to have high cholesterol levels and suffer from hypertension when compared to those who chose to skip breakfast, which apparently is a common trait in 2 out of every 10 American adults.

These 2 out of 10 people who skipped breakfast were also more likely to be obese and have an impaired glucose metabolism.

Although observational research shows that cardiovascular health can improve a person’s life, there is no evidence suggesting that specific eating patterns can lead to lasting benefits. There is a need for conducting large studies that follow patients throughout a long period of observation while keeping a record of their incidence in heart disease, diabetes, and weight reduction.

Planning meals ahead of time is the solution

Meal planning is not only about eating the food, it is also important to know when to buy groceries for preparation, and when to cook meals for the whole week for example. Some plan a month in advance, getting to the point of freezing soup, stew, roast, and whole meals so they can save time in advance and at the same time have a healthy meal while saving money. Others just head down to the market and pick up whatever appeals to them.

One of the recommended methods is to sift through a cookbook or online recipes. The trick is to find a good deal of recipes that is hard to get tired of and buy what the recipes need for cooking. It becomes even better if the meal servings are large enough to last for several days, making it possible to alternate between precooked meals. Besides, making dishes that are appealing will add a touch of creativity and dedication, which in the end will make each meal more delicious.

 Pistachio and Toasted Coconut Granola Cereal
It is important not to get too haggled by the meal planning system of choice, seeing that the important part is the actual food that is consumed. What’s important is to have a schedule that’s effective in keeping you nurtured throughout your routine. Image credit:

A popular solution is to focus on foods that can be composed on the spot by taking pre-cooked components. This is especially true for pasta and similar meals. The same homemade tomato sauce that one would use for pasta can be applied to a pizza, an omelet, or to a roasted chicken. It is important to assess the number of calories that each meal provides in order to maintain a healthy weight.

The standard is that women should eat about 2,000 calories per day, while men should eat 2,500. This is just a recommendation, seeing that depending on what the person does on a single day, more calories may be consumed than the ones that are burnt or vice versa. Losing weight is simple, one has to burn more calories than what is ingested.

The statement issued by AHA also discussed the many small meals vs. few large meals debate, concluding that it doesn’t matter how much food one eats at a time, as long as the calorie and nutritional rates are sufficient and balanced.

Source: American Heart Association