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Skipping Breakfast Increases* Heart Attack Risk

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

One survey [1] showed that at least 31 million Americans (10% of the population) skip breakfast every day. Reasons, why people skip the most important meal of the day, are numerous. Some people don’t eat breakfast because they believe they have no time, others assume skipping this meal would help them lose* weight. And there are also those who simply don’t have the habit to eat breakfast for no particular reason.

Doctors and scientists agree that skipping meals can only be detrimental to your health. The latest study added yet another proof to a growing body of evidence to eat your meals regularly, especially breakfast. You should stop* skipping your breakfast due to one unexpected reason. Keep reading to find out more.

Why Not Skip Breakfast?

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology[2] published results of the study that showed skipping breakfast increases* heart attack risk. Our daily habits including nutrition and frequency of meals play an important role in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases. That’s why correcting unhealthy habits is an important prevention strategy for many health conditions, including those that affect the heart.

That being said, a vast majority of people skip meals with breakfast being the meal they usually don’t eat. In order to get a more detailed insight into the impact of eating/skipping breakfast on cardiovascular risk factors, Dr. Irina Uzhova and a team of scientists from Spain conducted this interesting study.

The scientists evaluated [3] types of breakfast consumption and looked for a connection between the incidence of atherosclerosis in the healthy population and their breakfast patterns. Atherosclerosis is defined as hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to fatty deposits or plaque. The condition is a major risk factor for heart attack and other cardiovascular events.

What Did Study Show?

For the purpose of the study, they analyzed data from PESA (Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis) which included 4052 participants aged between 40 and 54. Participants who took part in the study were followed for six years.

Findings showed that 27% of adults ate a high-energy breakfast regularly. High-energy breakfast is a meal that accounts for at least 20% of daily energy intake. About 70% of participants ate a low-energy breakfast or the meal that accounted for 5-20% daily energy consumption. The remaining 3% accounts for participants who consumed breakfast with less* than 5% of total energy consumption and it also included those who skip this meal.

Scientists discovered that individuals who skip breakfast are more likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits. Independent of the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, being overweight, higher cholesterol etc.) and compared to high-energy breakfast, skipping the meal entirely was related to higher prevalence of atherosclerosis. In fact, people who didn’t eat anything in the morning had 1.5 times more atherosclerotic lesions than their counterparts who ate healthy, well-balanced, high-energy breakfast regularly. They also had 2.5 times more plaque in some areas like a carotid artery.

These findings[4] only emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and scientists hope physicians will use them to encourage* their patients to eat a well-balanced diet and avoid skipping meals in order to reduce* the risk of atherosclerosis and consequences that come with it.

Conclusion

Skipping breakfast is strongly associated with weight gain, reduced* energy levels, weak productivity, and other negative effects. The latest study discovered that skipping this meal can contribute to atherosclerosis, which is a risk factor for heart attack. In fact, the relationship persisted even when scientists excluded other common risk factors out of the equation. Therefore, start your day with a healthy, well-balanced breakfast for better* health and wellbeing.

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