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Are Your Breakfast Habits A Recipe For Heart Disease?

New research confirms that skipping breakfast won’t just leave you flat and fatigued, it could also spell disaster for your cardiovascular health!

The study published in Circulation in July 2013 adds weight to the long-held belief that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day.

Researchers looked at the dietary habits of over 25 000 male health professionals over a 16 year period and found that the timing of eating, not just the quality of the food being eaten has a significant effect on health.

In fact, the risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease was increased by 27% in men who regularly skipped breakfast compared to those who didn’t.

This increased risk was still evident even after researchers accounted for differences in lifestyle habits, physical activity and diet of the men studied.

Interestingly, a similar effect was noted in men eating a meal very late at night who had a 55% higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who didn’t.

No significant association was found between eating frequency (amount of meals during the day) and coronary heart disease.

As this was an observational study, it was not designed to prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between skipping breakfast and heart disease, but it does provide important information on the association between these two factors which requires further investigation.


Why Is Breakfast Such An Important Meal? 

As Leah Cahill, lead author of the study explains, “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.”

A possible explanation for these effects is that people who skip breakfast eat a larger amount of calories throughout the day packed into a smaller amount of calorie-dense meals to compensate.

This ‘feasting’ habit has been found to contribute to higher cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure when compared with eating smaller meals more regularly.

Previous research has shown that skipping breakfast also increases weight gain over time and impairs serum lipid and insulin sensitivity following meals, thereby contributing to metabolic disease.

Furthermore, it was reported that men who didn’t eat breakfast were likely to make less healthy dietary and lifestyle choices, such as engaging in smoking, drinking more alcohol and exercising less.

While this study was conducted only on men, mostly of European descent, researchers believe that women and other ethno-cultureal groups are likely to experience similar health outcomes from skipping breakfast.


How To Kick Start Your Day

Don’t miss out on the nutritional benefits of a healthy breakfast – it is an opportunity to start your day off well and sets the tone for your energy levels and mood throughout the day.

Make sure you include some good quality protein, healthy fats and unprocessed carbohydrate sources in your breakfast meal to help you feel and perform at your best.

Healthy Brekky Ideas include:

  • Free range/organic eggs with spinach and avocado
  • Raw nut and seed mix with some natural porridge 
  • Wild fish (canned or fresh) with tomato and ricotta on spelt toast
  • Protein supplement mixed into a fresh fruit smoothie
  • Bircher muesli or high-protein cereal mix with some coconut milk, water and grated apple (soak in fridge overnight so it’s ready to go when you are!)

For some additional digestive support and a gentle cleanse, have a glass of warm filtered water with the juice of half a fresh lemon before eating your breakfast.


Concerned About Your Heart Health? 

If you regularly skip breakfast, are overweight, have a family history of heart disease or have had blood tests in the past showing abnormal blood lipid cholesterol or insulin levels, we recommend you get have a Cardiovascular Profile done.

This comprehensive combination of blood and genetic markers will help to assess where your cardiovascular and metabolic health is at now, and how you can most effectively improve it with the guidance of a qualified Emed Practitioner.


Further Reading: 



Cahill, L.E. et al. 2013, Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals, Circulation, Vol. 128(4)


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