Skipping breakfast is so easy to do. You wake up, running late, and rush out the door without grabbing a bite to eat. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time, except for maybe the rumbling noise in your stomach, but not eating breakfast could lead to lifetime health problems.
A new study suggests that skipping breakfast can raise the risk of having a heart attack by 27 percent. Researchers at Harvard University assessed the eating habits of a group of nearly 27,000 men from the ages of 45 to 82. The group of men was monitored over the next 16 years, and here are the results: 1,527 had suffered a heart attack with 171 of those saying that they had regularly skipped breakfast.
There have been many studies completed linking the effects of not eating breakfast to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other medical problems. “But no studies looked at long-term risk of heart attack,” said Eric Rimm, one of the authors of the research at the Harvard School of Public Health.
But why is it that eating or not eating breakfast have this much influence on our bodies? Leah Cahill is another study author, and says that “Prolonged fasting leads to increases in diastolic and systolic blood pressure, blood concentrations of insulin, triglycerides, free fatty acids and LDL-cholesterol, and to decreases in blood concentrations of HDL-cholesterol. As we sleep all night we are fasting, and so if we regularly do not ‘break fast’ in the morning, it puts a strain on our bodies that over time can lead to insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia and blood pressure problems, which can then lead to heart disease.”
The study did not ask the men what they ate for breakfast or at what time they ate their breakfast, however the results did show the correlation of eating breakfast to an increase in heart attacks. Another researcher from the University of Minnesota, Andrew Odegaard, who has completed studies on the effects of not eating breakfast and obesity and high blood pressure stated, “We don’t know whether it’s the timing or content of breakfast that’s important. It’s probably both.”
We believe that it is the timing of how breakfast ‘breaks fast’ in the morning that provides the protection against heart attack that we observed. Our bodies need to be fed food regularly in order to maintain healthy levels of blood lipids such as cholesterol, hormones such as insulin, and normal blood pressure.
It may seem obvious, but the easiest solution to decrease this risk is to, simply, eat breakfast. Even if you are running late to work, take an extra minute and grab a bagel or banana. You will be glad you did, and so will your heart!