Can Simply Eating Breakfast Help Prevent Heart Disease? An estimated thirty-one million men and women in the US routinely wait until lunchtime before eating their first meal of the day. The reasons vary: a lack of appetite, a lack of time, a belief that skipping a meal helps cut total caloric intake for the day, or even a tradition of snacking until it’s time to punch out for lunch. Surely it can’t hurt to wait until noon to break out the knife and fork, right? Not so fast, says the Harvard School of Public Health. The verdict is in, and breakfast skippers won’t like the results.

 Studies were conducted in a sample of 27,000 men, aged 45 to 82 with no pre-existing heart problems, and followed for a sixteen-year period. Over that period, researchers recorded 1,572 separate instances of heart health problems in their subjects, ranging from non-fatal heart attacks, to deaths directly attributed to coronary heart disease. When the results were tabulated, the data showed those men who skipped breakfast had increased their likelihood of developing some form of heart disease by 27% as compared to those who routinely ate an early meal.  What’s more, the study also found that people who missed breakfast tended to compensate for that later in the day. They ate larger portions and targeted high-carbohydrate, high-sugar foods for their meals, which can lead to an increase in obesity and diabetes.

 While it’s true these studies only examined a cross-section of males aged 45 and older, and more research is required to see if the results are similar for other age and gender groups, the most critical piece of information meal skippers need to learn from this study can be summed up in one word: Stop! “The results show that something is better than nothing,” researcher Dr. Leah Cahill said, “but it’s always better to have something healthy and balanced.”

 The good news is that improved heart health doesn’t require a complete lifestyle makeover. Small changes here and there can add up to major advantages over your life. Simply eating breakfast is a good place to start. But what you eat can be just as important as when you eat it.

 Informative websites such as Health.com, The American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic all agree that there are better ways to start your day than others. A heart-healthy diet includes foods low in saturated fats and high in fiber, with vegetables and fruits occupying primary positions at mealtimes. Whole grain breads (make sure the first ingredient on the list has the word “whole” in it-many breads are not telling the truth) and nuts have also shown considerable benefits to those interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating breakfast helps boost and/or maintain metabolism, especially when longlasting foods are consumed at breakfast such as oatmeal, whole grains or eggs. That early meal helps keep your body and brain from feeling deprived later in the day and allows you to focus more clearly on tasks instead of watching the clock count down to lunch hour and reaching for a candy bar.

 Taking care of your heart is vital to helping ensure a long and productive life. Your diet is an important risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease, and just one or two simple steps taken now can improve the quality of your day to day activities for years to come. Regular exercise and a balanced diet always helps. But the simplest step might be to take a few extra minutes in the morning for a bowl of oatmeal with fruits or a slice or two of whole-grain toast. It might not seem like much, but for your heart, it could make all the difference in the world.

 

 

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