The first meal of the day gets you started—and keeps you healthy
It turns out Mom was right: Starting your day with breakfast is good for you—and your heart. A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) found that men who regularly skipped their morning meal had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who did eat breakfast. In addition, those who eschewed breakfast were hungrier later in the day and ate more food at night. This could be the reason, experts believe, for metabolic changes and heart disease.
Researchers in the study analyzed questionnaire data and health outcomes from 1992-2008 on 26,902 men, ages 45 to 82. During the study, 1,572 of the men had cardiac events. The association between not eating breakfast and heart disease persisted even after accounting for diet, physical activity, smoking and other lifestyle factors.
“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 lead author Leah Cahill, postdoctoral research fellow in HSPH’s Department of Nutrition, in a statement.
Other studies have shown a connection between breakfast and diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other health problems that are risk factors for heart disease. Though most of the men in this study were white, the study’s authors believe the results would be similar in women and other ethnic groups.
“It’s a really simple message,” senior author Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH, told the Associated Press. “Breakfast is an important meal.”