We've all heard the cliché that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I've told you for some time just how true this cliché is. And it's not just important for young people. But just how important is it? Well, if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease, you definitely need to eat a hearty breakfast.
If that idea conjures images of eggs, bacon, and toast, you're on the right track. And no, eggs aren't going to destroy your cholesterol level and send your heart disease risk through the roof. You'd be worse off by far if you eat nothing for breakfast, according to research recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
For this study, researchers evaluated over 4,000 people who did not have cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease. They filled out a questionnaire about their normal diets. Then the researchers broke them into groups depending on how much of their daily energy intake they got from their breakfast.
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The three groups were as follows: The no-breakfast group (2.9% of the participants) consumed less than 5% of their total energy intake in the morning. This means they might have had something to drink, such as juice or coffee, but they weren't eating a meal. The hearty breakfast eaters (27.7%) got more than 20% of their daily intake in the morning. The low-energy breakfast eaters (69.4%) fell in the middle, getting 5% to 20% of their energy from their morning meals.
The researchers found that rates of atherosclerosis were higher in both the no-breakfast and the low-energy breakfast group participants than in those who ate a substantial breakfast. Those two groups were also more likely to have cardiometabolic risk markers. In particular, those who didn't eat breakfast at all had the largest waists circumferences, largest body mass indexes, and highest blood pressure, blood lipids, and fasting glucose levels.
The researchers believe that these results may be occurring because skipping breakfast is commonly associated with other unhealthy behaviors, such as eating unhealthy foods, consuming excess alcohol, and smoking. Some of the participants were skipping breakfast in an attempt to lose weight. They didn't realize that such attempts typically backfire, as hunger accumulates throughout the morning and encourages overeating and poor food choices later in the day.
If you want a healthy heart, start your day with a healthy breakfast. It will help set you up for success all day long. You'll have more energy to exercise and won't become so ravenous that you consume anything in sight. You'll have the best success with this if you consume a good bit of protein with your breakfast. Unfortunately, not everyone has time to cook a full meal in the morning. But there's an easy way to supplement your breakfast with protein, even if all you usually have time for is a bowl of oatmeal on your way out the door. Try adding two scoops of Advanced Protein Powder to your juice, water, or oatmeal. Just two scoops gives you 15 grams of protein to help you power through your day - and keep your blood pumping through clear, healthy arteries.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD