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Why Skipping Breakfast is Bad for Your Heart

May 19, 2017
Published in: Heart, Nutrition

A bowl of granola cereal with fruit

The old cliché, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" may have been around for some time, but it seems that this sage advice holds more than a kernel of truth. According to a study published in the medical journal Circulation in July 2013, men who skip their morning breakfasts have a 27 percent greater chance of developing coronary artery disease or experiencing a heart attack than men who regularly eat breakfast.

A man attaching a blood pressure monitorThe study, conducted by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health followed 26,902 men mostly of white European descent, between the ages of 45 and 82 from 1992 to 2008. While more research is needed, the results should also apply to women and other ethnic groups. Researchers analyzed data from questionnaires and tracked their health outcomes. It is interesting to note that during the study, 1,572 of these men experienced first-time cardiac events. In addition to discovering that skipping breakfast can lead to a higher risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease, researchers also uncovered some shocking facts.

Men Who Skip Breakfast Have Several Things in Common

Surprisingly, younger men were more likely to report skipping breakfast. These men were often employed full-time and unmarried. Worse yet, these same men were more likely to be less physically active and reported regular alcohol consumption. It seems that skipping breakfast was consistent with other poor habits like smoking that are known to pose serious risks to heart health.

Eating Late at Night May Also Put You at Higher Risk for Heart Disease

Neglecting the morning meal may also lead to late night snacking. Unfortunately, this activity isn't just risky business for the battle of the bulge; it also leads to a 55 percent higher risk for coronary heart disease. Most late night eating also consists of unhealthy snack foods like chips, sweets, and sodas. Most people don't open up a package of carrots when they're experiencing late night cravings, especially when they're already feeling deprived due to missing the morning meal.

Why is Eating a Balanced Breakfast So Important for Heart Health?

EKG monitor with a heart shaped rhythmThere are several possible reasons why breakfast is such an important meal. Researchers involved in the study hypothesized that people who skip breakfast may be more likely to overcompensate for missing a meal by consuming larger, higher caloric meals later in the day. In fact, these larger meals can lead to higher cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure. These excess calories put extra strain on the body that isn't typically seen in individuals who consume smaller meals throughout the day. Other possible reasons could be that individuals who skip a meal may not pay as much attention to heart health or diet.

Since eating a healthy breakfast is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and coronary artery disease, it's important not to skip out on breakfast. It's not hard to incorporate a variety of healthful foods into your morning routine. Choosing the right foods will provide you with adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients. It doesn't have to be a gourmet meal either. A simple bowl of whole grain cereal or some steel-cut oatmeal with some chopped fruit is a wonderful way to start your day.

While we tend to focus on the quality of food we eat and what type of diet we should be eating, how we eat isn't always up for discussion. This study didn't even focus on the types of foods the men consumed, just the time of day when the men ate their meals. This study was more about behaviors and lifestyle choices, not diet. However, part of heart-healthy living involves eating breakfast regularly because it prevents you from engaging in other unhealthy activities.

If you're experiencing any signs of heart disease or other problems that you believe may be cardiology issues, we strongly urge you to contact the Augusta Health Cardiology Clinic. Give us a call today at (540) 245-7080.