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Power Breakfast for Your Heart

Eating breakfast may help protect you from heart disease...and late night snacking could do you in. These findings come from a 16-year study which examined the lifestyles of 26,902 male health professionals, and illustrate the power eating habits can have over our health. It showed that participants who skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who said they had morning meals. The study, from the Harvard School of Public Health, looked at data from questionnaires the men completed that delved into such issues as how much time they spent watching television, how much they exercised and slept, the quality of their diets, the amount of alcohol they drank, whether they smoked, their medical history, BMI, whether they worked full-time, were married and if had regular physical exams. Late night eating – after going to bed – raised the risk of heart disease by 55 percent, but the researchers noted that not many of the men in the study reported getting up in the wee hours to eat. The study was published in the July 23, 2012 issue of Circulation.

My take? I enjoy breakfast and feel it gives me the energy I need to start my day, but I know many people who skip a morning meal because they aren’t hungry, are in a hurry, or don’t believe it’s necessary. These new findings suggest that it might be wise to rethink that position. Aside from what this study tells us about breakfast and heart health, previous research has suggested that among people who want to lose weight, those who eat breakfast tend to lose more extra pounds than those who skip the morning meal. My typical breakfast includes a bowl of matcha tea, ½ cup of frozen organic berries (thawed), and a slice of wholegrain bread with baked, pressed tofu or smoked salmon. In general, I try to get 30 percent of my calories from fat, 50 percent from carbohydrates, and 20 percent protein at each meal.

Leah E. Cahill, et al “Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals,” Circulation. 2013;128:337-343,  doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.001474