We have all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a new study shows just how important it can be for preventing heart disease.
Researchers behind a new study found that the risk of heart-related death rises dramatically for those who skip breakfast. According to the research led by Dr. Wei Bao of the University of Iowa, compared to people who always ate breakfast, those who never did had an 87 percent higher chance of dying from heart-related causes. This study tracked the health of 6,550 Americans for about 20 years.
The research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also showed that the odds for stroke, in particular, were especially elevated for those who always skipped breakfast. These individuals showed more than three times the odds of fatal stroke compared to people who always had breakfast in the a.m.
Why a Deadly Habit?
According to Dr. Wei Bao, there could be many reasons as to why skipping breakfast could be a deadly habit that may lead to heart disease. The most studied reason is that skipping breakfast is tied to a boost in appetite later in the day. This has been shown to lead to overeating later in the day, which could, in turn, lead to chronic overeating and obesity.
Dr. Sunny Intwala who directs cardiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City explains, “Many people try to skip meals throughout the day to lose weight, but often this backfires, leading to overeating/binge eating at the end of the day.”
Another reason is because of insulin sensitivity. This hormonal factor, which is linked to obesity and diabetes, can be impaired when the morning “fast” lasts too long. Not eating in the morning could also affect other hormonal processes that may help to raise blood pressure.
Skipping breakfast has also been linked to higher cholesterol, which has been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease.
With more people jumping on the fasting trend in recent years, many heart experts who are not involved in the study are agreeing that it is healthier to eat something soon after rising. “It has been well documented that eating a complete breakfast leads to better cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Mohammad Imam, who was not involved in the study. Dr. Imam directs cardiothoracic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.
Doctors do stress that what is important is the type of foods that people are eating for breakfast. For many, breakfast foods include sugary cereals and pastries, so it is easy to see why these types of foods will lead to health risks in the long run.
When planning breakfasts, many doctors and dieticians recommend skipping the sugar-filled items and choosing a nutritious meal with fruits, nuts, whole-grain cereals, and high-quality protein. Starting the day off right with a nutritious breakfast can lead to better food choices throughout the day, which can help to prevent heart disease.