Skipping breakfast could be bad for your heart

Skipping breakfast could have negative consequences for your heart health.While the cliche “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has been around for some time, the evidence to support this claim keeps rolling in. The latest finding? Men who skip breakfast are more likely to have a heart attack.

According to a study published in the July 2013 issue of the medical journal Circulation, men who regularly neglect to eat breakfast in the morning are 27 percent more likely to develop a coronary artery disease or have a heart attack than those who ate breakfast every day.1

Conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, the study followed 27,000 men between the ages of 45 and 82 from 1992 to 2008. Researchers found that those who skipped breakfast were also more likely to have other negative habits, including drinking alcohol regularly, smoking and being less physically active.2

Health care professionals, such as those with a nursing career, have long espoused the benefits of eating breakfast. Beginning the day with a balanced meal can boost energy, improve concentration and assist with weight control.3 However, these new findings put the necessity of eating breakfast in a more serious light.

“Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time,” Leah Cahill, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a statement.4

Why such a drastic effect? The researchers hypothesize that people who skip breakfast tend to consume larger, more caloric meals later in the day to compensate for the food that they failed to eat earlier in the morning. One thing that the researchers did not investigate was whether what the participants ate for breakfast had a bearing on their overall heart health. Cahill, however, argues that what you eat does matter. She offers this advice;

“Don’t skip breakfast,” Cahill said. “Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients.”

For those who work in health care, these findings mean that it is now more important than ever that patients understand the importance of eating a healthy morning meal.

1 Cahill, PhD, Leah et al., Circulation, ‘Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals,’ July 2013 – http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/4/337.abstract?sid=d9d059a9-2174-4adb-beca-9347c303d976
2 Glatter, MD, Robert, Forbes, ‘Skipping Breakfast Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack,’ July 22, 2013 – http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2013/07/22/skipping-breakfast-linked-to-increased-heart-attack-risk/
3 Hamlin, Kristen, Livestrong, ‘Five Reasons Why You Should Eat Breakfast,’ Aug. 9, 2011 – http://www.livestrong.com/article/511962-five-reasons-why-you-should-eat-breakfast/
4 Press release, American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report, ‘Skipping breakfast may increase coronary heart disease risk,’ Jul. 22, 2013 – http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/aha-sbm071813.php

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