DEAR JIM: I’ve never been a big breakfast eater even though I’ve heard that it’s the most important meal of the day. I can’t help it, but I just don’t feel hungry in the morning. However, as I get older – I’m 69 now – I’m trying to adapt a healthier lifestyle, so is breakfast really that important? BREAKFAST HATER IN BOISE
DEAR BREAKFAST HATER: For a long time, researchers believed that breakfast was, indeed, the most important meal of the day from a nutritional perspective, but subsequent studies have shown mixed results.
However, an impressive study of more than 367,000 adults between the ages of 50-71 shows a better reason for eating breakfast – you might live longer.
Published online in the journal BMC Medicine, the study found a link between whole-grain bread cereals and longevity. People who consumed the most whole grains were 17% less likely to die during the study period compared with those who ate the least amount of whole grains. At the same time, people who ate the most cereal fiber were 19% less likely to die compared to those who ate the least amount of cereal fiber.
Overall, the results indicated that consumption of whole grains and cereal fiber had a positive effect on reducing mortality from all causes as well as death from chronic diseases. Results also suggested that cereal fiber accounts for the protective effects of whole grains.
In fact, compared to those who ate the least whole grains during the study period, those who consumed a diet high in whole grains were:
· 50% less likely to die from diabetes than those who ate the least whole grains
· 11% less likely to die from respiratory disease
· 17% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease
· 15% less likely to die from cancer
Moreover, the benefits of whole grains – the bran (the tough outer layer), the germ the part of the seed that would normally grow into a plant), and the endosperm (which nourishes the seed) – were due in part to the cereal fiber within them. All whole-grain products contain cereal fibers.
There are still more studies needed, but early results seem to imply that it might be a good idea for you to consider eating a whole-grain breakfast cereal as part of your new lifestyle. It figures since cereal is eaten mostly for breakfast. You probably ate cereal for breakfast as a youngster – before you grew up and got too busy being a grownup – so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back in the habit.