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Skipping Breakfast Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all important meals to keep our bodies nourished and energized throughout the day but one meal has long been enjoying a reputation as ‘the most important meal of the day.' Yes, we’re talking about breakfast. Ever since childhood, we are warned not to skip breakfast, and this notion is rooted in truth. Repeatedly skipping breakfast has been found to slow down metabolism, increase cortisol levels, and cause difficulty in concentration. 

A recent meta-analysis - a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies - published in the Journal Clinical Nutrition further solidified the importance of breakfast, when it revealed a clear correlation between skipping breakfast and heart disease. After analyzing more than 221,730 participants, the researchers found that passing on breakfast elevated the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22 percent.

The Link Between Breakfast and Heart Health breakfast food

These results confirm the findings of a similar meta-analysis conducted in 2019. The previous study, which was published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease analyzed the data of four different studies from the US and Japan and found that those who regularly skipped breakfast were 21 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than participants who regularly ate breakfast. 

Moreover, people who skip breakfast were also shown to be more likely to die from heart-related issues and a heart attack in particular. Another study from the same year looked at the eating habits of 113 heart attack patients and found that those who tended to skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime were four to five times more likely to die, suffer another heart attack, or experience angina within 30 days after being discharged from the hospital.

Why does breakfast have such a drastic effect on our heart health?

The word breakfast literally means breaking the fasting period of the prior night. When we don’t eat breakfast, we prolong that period, and later when we do eat we tend to “feast” on heavier, higher-calorie meals to ‘make up' for it. It’s been proven that eating large portions of food in long intervals can result in high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, compared with nibbling smaller meals more often. Unfortunately, all three of these complications are risk factors for heart disease. They are caused by the extra strain on the body during the few times a person does eat, according to Eric Rimm, associate professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

The type of food that a person consumes during breakfast might also be a factor. Typically, the morning is when most people tend to eat a healthy meal. "By skipping a meal that usually features fiber or fruit or yogurt, you're missing out on an occasion where people can get healthy nutrients," said Rimm.

Related: 10 Foods That Should Be Avoided In The Morning 

The Link Between Breakfast and Heart Health woman with chest pain

Given the heart health risk, and the other health benefits breakfast offers, it’s clear that it is an essential meal, and most people are aware of that. A survey conducted in 2009 found that 93 percent of Americans agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, there is an apparent gap between people’s beliefs and their actions. A 2019 survey found that the average American eats breakfast only three times a week, while 13 percent of the participants said they rarely, if ever, eat breakfast. 

Given all this information, we urge you to make eating breakfast a habit, if it isn’t already one. Need some inspiration on what to prepare? We got you covered. Check out these 3 delicious breakfasts. Bon Appetit!

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