In a study published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers from the U.K. questioned about 4,500 students in Wales ages nine to 11 years about the foods they ate in one day and whether or not they ate breakfast. Researchers then linked children’s dietary information to their standardized test scores. Eating breakfast was associated with higher test scores, and the best academic performance came after eating healthy foods like fresh fruit. This could have to do with glycemic index, the rate at which sugar is released from the blood. Breakfast foods with a lower glycemic index have more fiber (think a sweet bowl of berries instead of a donut) and release energy more steadily throughout the morning, which could have a positive effect on cognitive functioning.
An empty stomach is no way to start the school day, and eating breakfast can bring more than just good grades. A 2014 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found eating a nutritious breakfast can play a role in maintaining a healthy BMI as well as help with meeting daily nutrient requirements and achieving overall health.
Anything is better than nothing on the breakfast table, but starting the day with nutritious food can be convenient for parents and fun for kids with these simple tricks:
- Do the work the night before and have a portable breakfast waiting in the morning. In a jar, combine ½ cup rolled oats with 1 cup almond milk and place in the refrigerator overnight. Add cinnamon, fresh fruit, chopped nuts or honey to taste.
- Pre-portion cut fruit into plastic baggies and keep in the freezer to make for speedy smoothie assembly. Try one banana, one cup of berries and one cup of pineapple per pack and blend with one cup of liquid (like almond milk, yogurt or water) when you’re ready for breakfast.
Melanie Dwornik, M.A., R.D., Nutrition and Health Communications Manager, Dole Nutrition Institute, [email protected]