Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, as skipping breakfast can increase the risk of a heart attack, according to Harvard researchers.
A study of older men (45 to 82) found those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher heart attack risk, verses those who ate a regular morning meal.
Harvard researchers believe this result is applicable to everyone, not just older men.
Several studies have suggested the importance of eating breakfast regularly, as doing so can influence metabolism and weight, blood pressure, and diabetes. But previous studies haven’t examined the long-term risk of how skipping breakfast can influence the risk of a heart attack.
Experts are uncertain as to why skipping the morning meal increases the risk of a heart attack. But they suggest it may have to do with hunger. When people skip breakfast they will tend to eat more later on in the day due to delayed hunger.
The density of later in the day calories along with spikes in sugar levels may contribute to clogging arteries.
The observational research was published in the journal Circulation; provided by the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health.
Notably, the study was not specifically designed to prove a definitive cause and effect relationship between consuming breakfast and heart attack risk.
Among adults, skipping meals is associated with excess body weight, hypertension, insulin resistance, and elevated fasting lipid concentrations. However, it remains unknown whether specific eating habits regardless of dietary composition influence coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. The objective of this study was to prospectively examine eating habits and risk of CHD.
The researchers surveyed nearly 27,000 men about their eating habits, beginning in 1992. About 13 percent of them said they regularly skipped breakfast. They all were educated health professionals, and were at least 45 years of age.
Data was collected over a 16 year period. Of the participants, 1,527 suffered fatal or non-fatal heart attacks. This included 171 who had said they regularly skipped breakfast, reports USA Today.
The researchers calculated the increased risk for a heart attack at 27 percent, after taking into account other factors like smoking, drinking, diet and health problems like high blood pressure and obesity, according to Forbes.
What was eaten for breakfast was not studied. Researchers were more concerned about whether or not breakfast was skipped. They weren’t concerned with bacon and eggs versus oatmeal or leftover pizza. This was because researchers were not prepared to pass judgment on whether a fatty, sugary breakfast is better than no breakfast at all.
Federal estimates state 18 percent of Americans regularly skip breakfast.
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