Breakfast And Your Heart
New research suggests that skipping breakfast is linked to a buildup of plaque in coronary arteries, a change that can lead to heart attacks. Investigators in Madrid evaluated 4,052 men and women ages 40 to 54, none of whom had cardiovascular disease. The study team compared the participants’ breakfast habits to signs of atherosclerosis – hardening and narrowing of arteries due to the plaque buildup. The researchers reported that three percent of the study participants reported skipping breakfast while 70 percent consumed between five and 20 percent of their daily calories at breakfast. The other 27 percent consumed more than 20 percent of their daily calories at breakfast. But here’s the catch: the researchers reported that the people who skipped breakfast were also more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle including poor diet, frequent alcohol consumption and smoking. They also were more likely than others in the study to have high blood pressure and be overweight or obese. The investigators found plaque buildup in nearly 75 percent of the participants who skipped breakfast compared to 64 percent of those who ate a light breakfast and 57 percent of those who ate a full breakfast. The study didn’t report what participants ate for their morning meal. While the research showed an association between skipping breakfast and the plaque build up seen, it didn’t prove a cause and effect relationship or that skipping breakfast was responsible for the changes.
My take? Breakfast is widely perceived as the most important meal of the day, but there’s little evidence demonstrating that it really is. While it’s not difficult to find investigations suggesting that you would be better off eating breakfast than skipping it, the findings themselves do not necessarily prove that. As the research suggested in this study, it’s possible that many people who skip breakfast simply have other lifestyle practices that may contribute to poor health and heart disease.
José L. Peñalvo et al, “The Importance of Breakfast in Atherosclerosis Disease Insights From the PESA Study.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, October 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.08.0
Also in this week’s bulletin: