Skipping Breakfast = Hardened Arteries

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With the hustle and bustle of modern day living, it’s easy to simply forget about breakfast. A cup of coffee and you’re ready to face the world, right? Not so fast. Skipping breakfast can have a harmful effect on the cardiovascular system, says new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast is more beneficial to the heart, and while previous studies have shown avoiding breakfast is likely to lead to childhood obesity this latest paper is the first to draw parallels between breakfast and atherosclerosis. That’s the technical term for the hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to a build-up of plaque.

“People who regularly skip breakfast likely have an overall unhealthy lifestyle,” said study author Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC director of Mount Sinai Heart and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “This study provides evidence that this is one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease.”

Researchers studied male and female participants free from cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease. They found that atherosclerosis was more frequently reported by two groups: those who skipped breakfast and those who ate low-energy breakfasts. Low energy here refers to those who consumed between five and 20 percent of their total daily energy intake at breakfast: i.e. small meals.

They also found that those who did not eat breakfast  had the greatest waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure, blood lipids and fasting glucose levels. In addition, of all the participants, they were also more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle, including poor overall diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking. They were also more likely to be hypertensive and overweight or obese.

“Aside from the direct association with cardiovascular risk factors, skipping breakfast might serve as a marker for a general unhealthy diet or lifestyle which in turn is associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis,” said Jose L. Peñalvo, PhD, assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and the senior author of the study.

“Our findings are important for health professionals and might be used as a simple message for lifestyle-based interventions and public health strategies, as well as informing dietary recommendations and guidelines.”

Here’s at the clinic we start our day with breakfast, which is the most important meal. Here’s a sample recipe to get your first meal of the day going with a bang: a ketogenic breakfast meatloaf.

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