Time and again, numerous studies have shown that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and children who eat breakfast regularly have a more balanced diet including more fruits and more milk and healthier lifestyles? than those who skip breakfast1,2. In addition, research shows that children who skip breakfast may not make up for the nutrients they miss when skipping that meal9.
As shown in the figure below, research has shown that rates of overweight and obesity are a lot higher in children who skip breakfast or have smaller meals which in turn affects their day-to-day performance in school as well.
Figure 18. Percentage (%) of children who do not consume breakfast regularly (on a daily basis) Abbreviations: KSA: Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia; UAE: United Arab Emirates
Before we get into the nitty gritty of why breakfast along with wholegrains is important, let’s decipher what is considered a ‘healthy breakfast’?
The key to a nutritious breakfast is variety, which can be achieved by including as many of the four food groups (Breads and Cereals, Fruits & Vegetables, Meat & Legumes and Milk & Dairy) as well as the right quality of food choices. But not all breakfasts are the same: Quality and Quantity matters!
A nutritious balanced breakfast such as a bowl of whole grain breakfast cereals and milk along with a fruit would provide adequate energy for the body as well as a variety of essential nutrients such as B-vitamins, Iron, Zinc and Calcium specifically needed for children’s growth and development.
• A serving of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal serves as an excellent centerpiece for a balanced breakfast being low in fat, nutrient-dense, cholesterol-free foods that are often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals and plays a key role in helping consumers of all ages move towards a healthy, balanced diet.
• Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal encourages increased consumption of milk and possibly fruit. Consuming milk and milk products (yogurt and cheese) is associated with overall diet quality and adequate intake of several nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, riboflavin, folate and vitamin D* among children and older adults.
• Breakfast cereals help promote bone health combined with calcium, vitamin D and protein provided from milk and milk products that are often consumed with RTEC, make this combination an excellent choice for bone health and development; especially in children.
We have given you many reasons to understand why breakfast is important, however, we still haven’t established what is whole grain and why is it important?
Whole grains have all the parts of the original kernel—bran, germ, and endosperm—in the original proportions and together deliver a package of important nutrients. Fiber is one big reason to eat whole grains. Adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, and whole grains contain two types—soluble and insoluble—which are both beneficial to your health.
Why Whole Grain:
Whole grains deliver many important nutrients. Here are some of the key nutrients found in whole grains:
• Fiber: The bran provides most of the fiber in whole grains.
• Vitamins: Whole grains are particularly high in B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin and folate.
• Minerals: They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium and manganese.
• Protein: Whole grains provide several grams of protein per serving.
• Antioxidants: Several compounds in whole grains act as antioxidants. These include phytic acid, lignin and sulfur compounds.
• Plant compounds: Whole grains deliver many types of plant compounds that play a role in preventing disease. These include lignans, stanols and sterols.
However, there has been a significant confusion among consumers in Middle East about how much whole grain should be consumed daily. While almost eight in 10 people (80%) believe it is important to eat whole grain, more people (86%) admit they don’t know how much they should consume. Half of those surveyed think they eat enough.
How to go Whole grain?
• Check for ‘whole grain’ as the first ingredient on the label
• Swap refined (‘white’) bread, rice or pasta for whole grain varieties
• Choose a whole grain cereal for breakfast such as Nestlé Fitness and Nesquik Cereals
• Add another portion of whole grain for lunch and dinner, e.g. whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, or brown rice
• Look out for logos which highlight whole grain
1. Nathalie Michels, Stefaan De Henauw et al. European adolescent ready-to-eat-cereal (RTEC) consumers have a healthier dietary intake and body composition compared to non-RTEC consumers.European Journal of Nutrition. 2014; ISSN 1436-6207, Eur J Nutr; DOI 10.1007/s00394-014-0805
2. Have healthier lifestyles (Diet Quality Index)
3. Wahlstrom, K. L., & Begalle, M. S. (1999). More than test scores: results of the Universal School Breakfast Pilot in Minnesota. Topics in Clinical Nutrition, 15(1):17-29.
4. Wesnes KA, Pincock C, Richardson D et al (2003) Breakfast reduced declines in attention and memory over the morning in schoolchildren. Appetite. 41(3):329 –31.
5. Murphy, J.M., Pagano, M. E., Nachmani, J., Sperling, P., Kane, S., & Kleinman, R. E. (1998). The relationship of school breakfast to psycosocial and academic functioning. Archives Pediatric Adolescent Medicine: 152:899-907.
6. Smith AP (2003)Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health by young adults. Nutritional Neuroscience, 6, 59-61
7. Smith AP (1999) Breakfast cereal consumption and subjective reports of health. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 50, 445-449.
8. Smith AP (1998) Breakfast and mental health. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 49, 397-402.
9. Rampersaud, G.C., et al. Breakfast Habits, Nutritional Status, Body Weight, and Academic Performance in Children and Adolescents. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 2005. V105-I5: 743-760.
10. Harland JI & Garton LE, 2008 Whole-grain intake as a marker of healthy body weight and adiposity. Public Health Nutr. 2008 Jun;11(6):554-63; Williams P et al, 2008 Cereal grains, legumes, and weight
11. management: a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence. Nutr Rev. 2008 Apr;66(4):171-82.
12. Williams P et al, 2008 Cereal grains, legumes, and weight management: a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence. Nutr Rev. 2008 Apr;66(4):171-82
13. Ye EQ et al. 2012 Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. J Nutr. 2012 Jul;142(7):1304-13.
14. Mellen pb et al. 2008 Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008 May;18(4):283-90.; Anderson JW 2003 Whole grains protect against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Proc Nutr Soc. 2003 Feb;62(1):135-42
15. Grains and Legumes Health Report 2010.http://www.glnc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/GGHN-2010-Grains-and-Legumes-Health-Report.pdf
16. De Munter JS et al.2007 Whole grain, bran, and germ intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study and systematic review. PLoS Med. 2007 Aug;4(8):e261; Venn BJ & Mann JI, 2004 Cereal grains, legumes and diabetes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;58(11):1443-61; Montonen J et al.3003 Whole-grain and fiber intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;77(3):622-9.