Health & Wellness

Skipping Breakfast May Be Damaging Your Arteries

Pausing for a good breakfast could benefit your heart health and your waistline

By Katrina Caruso

It seems that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. According to study results published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, participants with the worst morning diets had the highest risk for hardening of the arteries.

The US study followed more than 4,000 participants between the ages of 40 and 54 who had no history of cardiovascular problems. The researchers, based at Mount Sinai Heart hospital in New York City, looked at three patterns of breakfast-eating: a high-energy breakfast (one that provided more than 20% of a participant’s daily intake—27% of the participants), a low-energy breakfast (one that provided 5% to 20% of daily energy—70% of participants), and no breakfast (3% of participants). The breakfast skippers tended to drink fruit juice or coffee in the mornings and have a larger lunch in lieu of a morning meal.

The study found that those who ate didn’t eat breakfast were more likely than other participants to have cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure levels and a higher waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). They were also more likely to have unhealthy diets in general and habits such as drinking and smoking. Researchers noted that skipping breakfast may serve as a red flag for a patient’s doctor, indicating that the patient may have a generally unhealthy lifestyle.

The breakfast skippers, who tended to be men, were the most at-risk for obesity and the development of atherosclerosis—hardened and narrowed arteries due to the buildup of plaque. The study’s authors acknowledged that some of the participants may have been skipping breakfast because they were overweight and already trying to lose weight to reduce their risk for atherosclerosis.

Photo: iStock/artisteer.