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Skipping breakfast may be hard on your heart

A smiling man and woman at a breakfast table. The woman is making a heart shape with her hands and looking through the middle.

Take a bite out of heart disease. Start the day with breakfast!

May 14, 2019—If you're a breakfast skipper, then two new studies may convince you to start fueling up in the morning. They suggest that regularly bypassing breakfast could put your heart—and even your life—at risk.

What makes missing breakfast so risky?

For the first study, researchers looked at the breakfast habits of 6,550 U.S. adults surveyed between 1988 and 1994. They found that those who never ate breakfast were 87% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and stroke than those who ate breakfast every day.

Skipping the first meal of the day may lead to overeating later, the researchers said. Over time, that overeating may contribute to heart disease risk factors like obesity.

Missing breakfast has also been associated with rises in cholesterol and blood pressure.

In the past 50 years, more and more people in the U.S. have stopped eating breakfast, the researchers said. By some estimates, nearly 24% of young people now skip it.

But breakfast has important benefits. The calories it supplies after fasting all night help rev up the body's metabolism. And it gives people energy and nutrients for the day ahead.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Worse outcomes after a heart attack

In a second study, researchers reported that skipping breakfast and eating late-night dinners could be especially dangerous for heart attack survivors. The study involved 113 people hospitalized for especially serious heart attacks.

Researchers defined skipping breakfast as consuming only beverages before lunch at least three times a week. They defined eating late-night dinners as having meals within two hours of bedtime at least three times a week.

The study found that those who skipped breakfast and ate late-night dinners fared far worse than those who ate breakfast regularly. Within 30 days after leaving the hospital, they were four to five times more likely to:

  • Die.
  • Have another heart attack.
  • Have heart-related chest pain.

The study appeared in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The clear takeaway from both studies: Eating breakfast is a simple way to help protect your heart. To learn more about building a healthy breakfast, read these tips.

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