Participants in the study who ate “high-energy” breakfasts, or a meal containing at least 20 percent of their daily calorie intake, appeared to have the lowest chance of early stages of atherosclerosis. It’s not about eating an extremely high-calorie breakfast, Sherwood said. “It’s really just balancing calories across the day, which is what we want people to do.”
Susie Nanney, a registered dietitian and an associate professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, noted that because the study was conducted in Spain, the participants were mostly following Mediterranean diet patterns, which are largely plant-based and include mainly lean proteins and more whole grain, which makes a difference.
And Sherwood cautioned that the study should not be seen as offering a cure-all.
“Sometimes people are just looking for the one thing to do that’s going to make the difference in their health and so forth … and it’s not just going to be eating a healthy breakfast alone, but your whole dietary pattern,” she said. “This study is providing more evidence that it’s important to start with a healthier breakfast to set yourself up for a healthier eating pattern throughout the day.”
Sherwood suggested whole fruit, whole grains, eggs and low-fat dairy as good breakfast options. Pereira said that minimizing refined grains, added sugars, and fatty breakfast meat is important, as well. And Nanney said some of her favorite breakfasts include avocado with an egg and a whole-grain English muffin with almond butter, oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and nuts and a glass of milk, and an omelet with spinach and other vegetables.