Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, helps reduce hunger throughout the day, which then helps you choose healthier food options at and in between meals.

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who regularly eat breakfast are more like to intake more vitamins and minerals, eat less fat and cholesterol, have lower cholesterol numbers and enjoy better concentration and productivity throughout the morning.

Healthy Breakfast = More Vitamins and Minerals 

Skipping breakfast means short-changing yourself on important vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain its optimum health. Drinking just six-ounces of orange juice fortified with calcium and Vitamin D provides 261 milligrams (mg.) of calcium, 332 mg. potassium, 62 mg. Vitamin C, plus vitamins A and D. A single hard-boiled egg offers 6.29 grams protein, 25 mg. calcium and vitamins B12, A, E and K.

Grabbing a quick glass of juice before heading out the door in the morning is a great way to start if you’ve never been a breakfast eater. If time is at a premium in the mornings, prepare quick breakfast items the night before. Eggs can be hard-boiled in less than 20 minutes—peel and rinse and place in a container so the eggs are ready to grab in the morning. Two hard boiled eggs are healthier options than grabbing a donut or pastry.

Eating Breakfast Leads to Healthier Food Choices

On average, people who eat breakfast consume less calories throughout the day and often make healthier food choices. It’s easier to get in the habit of choosing a healthy snack such as fruit, low-fat yogurt or a whole-grain bagel mid-day if you’ve already started your day with a healthy, satisfying meal.

Eating breakfast helps make your body feel full at the start of the day. Skipping breakfast often means your body may not have had any substantial intake of calories for as many as 10, 12 or more hours. Leaving the house without eating can lead to a morning hunger where many adults find it simply easier to grab a quick meal. These meals on-the-go often contain excessive calories, salt, sugar and fat.

Eating a nutritious breakfast such as a whole grain cereal topped with fresh blueberries, raspberries or another fruit and paired with a glass of orange juice is a healthier choice than grabbing a breakfast sandwich from a fast food restaurant.

One egg and sausage muffin sandwich from a popular fast food restaurant contains 452 calories, 29 grams of fat and has 944 mg. sodium. Fresh fruit is naturally low in sugar, sodium and fat and offers an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals, making it a smart choice to include during a morning meal.

People who eat breakfast daily and include healthy grains, low-fat dairy products and delicious fruits tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day. If you take a few minutes in the evening to prepare a bowl of blueberries or set out a banana for slicing in the morning, it is just as easy to prepare an extra piece or two of fruit to take as snacks during the day.

Breakfast Can Lead to Lower Cholesterol Numbers

The American Heart Association states that the average adult should have a total blood cholesterol level measuring less than 200 mg/dL. Anything higher increases the risk for coronary heart disease.

A heart-healthy breakfast may include two slices of whole-grain toast or a whole-grain English muffin topped with two tablespoons peanut butter or non-fat cream cheese. Oatmeal or another whole-grain, high-fiber cereal topped with fresh fruit is another heart-healthy choice.

Skip the fast-food sausage and egg muffin—it has 254 mg. cholesterol—and opt for 8-ounces of yogurt tossed into the blender and mixed with ground flax seeds, fresh fruit, one-half cup orange juice (or cranberry juice) and a few ice cubes. The smoothie is ideal for busy mornings when you want a healthy breakfast but need it on-the-go.

Breakfast Supplies Needed Energy

In order to function properly, the brain needs fuel. Without that fuel, it can be difficult to concentrate even on simple tasks. The glucose found in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains helps to provide that fuel.

Complex carbohydrates to include in your breakfast menu plan should include, but are not limited to, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, low-fat bran muffins and whole grain bagels.

Oatmeal, low-fat granola and nuts are other good carbohydrates to incorporate into your breakfast meals. Sprinkle 1/4 cup low-fat granola over a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal for a bit of satisfying crunch and healthful carbohydrates. Top whole-grain pancakes with slivered almonds and fresh fruit for a great breakfast to start your day.

You’ll feel full and energized, and will enjoy the ability to focus throughout the morning better than on days you skipped the number one meal of the day.

Are you a breakfast person? If so, what’s on your breakfast menu? If not, why not?