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Is skipping breakfast bad for your heart? Study explores

Photo: Arx0nt/iStockphoto

Iowa City, IA — Beyond waking up the metabolism and providing nutrients and energy to start the day, eating breakfast may drastically reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and stroke, results of a recent study indicate.

Using data from 6,550 adults ages 40 to 75 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1988 and 1994, researchers from the University of Iowa found that the 5.1% of participants who said they never ate breakfast were 87% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and stroke than those who ate breakfast every day.

Skipping breakfast has been linked to elevated blood pressure, higher levels of total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – known as “bad” cholesterol – and changes in appetite that cause people to overeat later in the day, the researchers said in an April 22 press release. It also proved to be a behavioral marker for unhealthy habits: Study participants who always skipped the meal were more likely to be overweight, drink more alcohol, be physically inactive, and have high cholesterol and a poor diet – all of which can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Even after adjusting for these lifestyle factors, the researchers noted a significant association between skipping breakfast and cardiovascular mortality. “Our study supports the benefits of eating breakfast in promoting cardiovascular health,” they said.

The study was published in the April edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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