Skip breakfast this morning? Is that a habit you’ve developed? New research out of Harvard University suggests that you may want to start revamping this particular dietary choice in order to protect your heart health.
The study involved assessing the eating habits of 26,902 men between the ages of 45 and 82 who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study. The researchers followed these participants (who were dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopaths and podiatrists) for a 16-year period by collecting biennial questionnaires that collected the participants’ medical history, lifestyle and other health-related behaviors.
The researchers point out that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend breakfast for children; however, the guidelines do not include similar recommendations for adults. They add that data collected for the 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that almost 20 percent of American adults skip breakfast daily. However, previous research has determined that missing meals is linked to weight gain and being overweight, high blood pressure, insulin sensitive and diabetes.
The researchers found that 1,527 incidents of cardiovascular heart disease were diagnosed. Through further analysis, they found that men who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than men who ate breakfast regularly. Interestingly, there was no observed association between eating several times during the day and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
So why what’s behind the importance of breakfast? The researchers aren’t totally sure, but they do have some guesses. For instance, they hypothesize that prolonging fasting by skipping breakfast can put a strain on the body, which can over the long run lead to insulin insensitivity. This, in turn, can lead to type-2 diabetes as well as high blood pressure, which then can domino into heart disease.
While the findings of this study are specific for men, women should also be more cognizant about the importance of breakfast.
That brings to me another question - what is the best type of breakfast to eat? Men’s Health offered some interesting suggestions. Do’s include the following:
- Pancakes, especially whole-grain or ones that have flax meal. Opt for unsweetened fruit spread in place of syrup.
- Steel-cut oats, which have eight grams of soluble fiber to leave you full. Add berries and a teaspoon of honey if you need sweetness.
- Tea, which has disease-fighting antioxidants.
- A whole egg, which includes protein and vitamin B12 in its yolk. These nutrients are used by the body for fat breakdown and muscle contraction. Additionally, researchers have found that men who ate three large whole eggs daily increased their good (HDL) cholesterol by 20 percent without changing their bad (LDL) cholesterol.
- Whole grain cereals, which lower the risk of heart failure. Researchers have found that people who eat a bowl of high-fiber cereal up to six times a week were 22 percent less likely to develop heart failure than people who didn’t eat this for breakfast. Make sure that the ingredients list on the box lists whole-grain wheat, oats or brain first to ensure that you’re making the best choice.
- Milk, which may help you lose weight. Researchers found that people who drink milk instead of fruit juice during breakfast ate 55 fewer calories at lunch, possibly because the protein in milk was more filling.
- Whole-wheat bread, which will make you feel full longer during the morning.
- Pizza, which provides a vegetable (tomato sauce) and protein (cheese).
- Low-fat cottage cheese provides 15 grams of high-quality protein and no sugar in a four-ounce serving.
However, the website also has foods to avoid. These include:
- Belgian waffles, which can have more than 600 calories apiece.
- Bacon, which is low in protein but high in fat.
- Granola often has 600 calories in one cup. Furthermore, it can have about 24 grams of sugar.
- Fancy coffee drinks, which can be laden with sugar and fat.
- Orange juice, which when consumed five days a week has been found to reduce the hardness of teeth by 84 percent.
- Multigrain bread, which may contain refined grains. Be sure to read the label before purchasing.
- Donuts, which includes trans-fat that raises bad cholesterol as well as lots of sugar, that will cause your energy levels to spike and then drop quickly.
- Low-fat yogurt, which often is infused with sugar or corn syrup that increases insulin levels in your body. A four-ounce serving provides five grams of protein. If you want to eat yogurt, pick the plain version.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Aubrey, A. (2013). Why skipping breakfast might raise risk of heart disease. NPR.org.
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.
MacVean, M. (2013). Skipping breakfast linked with heart disease. Los Angeles Times.
Men’s Health. (nd). Choose the best breakfast food.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.