The old adage about breakfast being the most important meal of the day might be right as a study has found skipping breakfast increases the risk of middle-aged men suffering heart attacks by more than a quarter.
Researchers in the US analysed diet and lifestyle data on 26,902 male health professionals aged 45 and over.
Over a period of 16 years, men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% greater risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease than those who did not.
The same men were more likely to smoke, drink more alcohol, be unmarried and to be less physically active.
However, these factors and others, such as body weight, medical history and overall diet quality, were taken into account by the scientists.
Study leader Dr Leah Cahill, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said: “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.
“Don’t skip breakfast. Eating breakfast is associated with a decreased risk of heart attacks. Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. For example, adding nuts and chopped fruit to a bowl of wholegrain cereal or steel-cut oatmeal in the morning is a great way to start the day.”
Eating last thing at night was also shown to be an unhealthy habit. Men who reported eating after going to bed had a 55% higher risk of heart disease, although not many fell into this category.
The findings are reported today in the American Heart Disease journalCirculation.
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