Why Breakfast May Be The Most Important Meal Of The Day
A large 16-year study finds men who reported that they skipped breakfast had higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease.
The timing of meals, whether it's missing a meal in the morning or eating a meal very late at night, may cause adverse metabolic effects that lead to coronary heart disease. Even after accounting for modest differences in diet, physical activity, smoking and other lifestyle factors, the association between skipping breakfast (or eating very late at night) and coronary heart disease persisted.
Here's more evidence why breakfast may be the most important meal of the day: Men who reported that they regularly skipped breakfast had a higher risk of a heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease in a study reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaire data and tracked health outcomes for 16 years (1992-2008) on 26,902 male health professionals ages 45-82. They found:
- Men who reported they skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who reported they didn't.
- The men who reported not eating breakfast were younger than those who did, and were more likely to be smokers, employed full time, unmarried, less physically active and drank more alcohol.
- Men who reported eating late at night (eating after going to bed) had a 55% higher coronary heart disease risk than those who didn't. But researchers were less convinced this was a major public health concern because few men in the study reported this behaviour.
- During the study, 1,572 of the men had first-time cardiac events.
"Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time," said Leah E. Cahill, Ph.D., study lead author and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass.
"Don't skip breakfast," Cahill said. "Eating breakfast is associated with a decreased risk of heart attacks. Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For example, adding nuts and chopped fruit to a bowl of whole grain cereal or steel-cut oatmeal in the morning is a great way to start the day."
The study has been published online:
Cahill LE, Chiuve SE, Mekary RA, Jensen MK, Flint AJ, Hu FB, Rimm EB. Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Circulation, 2013; 128 (4): 337 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.001474