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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

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Reader Comments (11)

Do you think the added sugar in muesli is bad? I'm used to eat:
1) 1 cup of muesli
2) Greek yougurt

That is around 400 kcal. Is this amount good? (28yr male, active life)

PS (I love your books!)
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictor Marconi
I don't know about this. I think that the people skipping breakfast are doing it because they are already overweight, thus the people skipping breakfast are not leading healthy lifestyles and trying to make up for it and thus of course overweight people are likely to have heart issues. I am a big proponent of intermittent fasting and I skip the first part of the day a many times a times a week and and definitely feel better and have more concentration when I skip breakfasts. I would like to see a study of healthy non overweight people skipping breakfast... I think it has already been confirmed as being positive with all the intermittent fasting research.

I think this is dangerous research and gives overweight people a subconscience reason to continue stuffing their face.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjrb
Is your Matcha sourced from Japan, and if so are you concerned over radioactive contamination from Fukushima? From what I understand, contamination is more widespread than officials claim. And since Matcha is whole tea, it seems like the most risky of the green teas.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter
Looking at correlations like this and claiming it to be causal is bad science. What are the participants other lifestyle factors? Are the people skipping breakfast also more likely to smoke cigarettes? Do they sleep less? Are they exercising less?

Eat when you're hungry. Your body will tell you what it needs.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZach
Eating breakfast is paramount for me as a doc with a busy schedule! I have patients that take breakfast out of the equation to save calories from the day, not realizing that they then gorge on lunch because they're hungry. It just doesn't make sense./Dr JJ
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDr. J.J. Gregor, DC
A small bag of nuts and a good juice does it for me!
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCheri
Hmmm. Wheat is not good any more nor tofu for health. if I have tofu, it is organic and every few months. Hybridized wheat is like sugar. I have smoked salmon on spelt toast with 1/2 an avocado/tomato.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterleila
I usually prefer to continue the fast that is started sometime the prior evening, before I go to sleep until at least early to mid afternoon, often until dinner time around 6 pm. Doing this does help with weight control. I feel more energy during the day. My stomach has shrunk a little by the time I have dinner, so as long as I pace myself at dinner, I usually end up eating less dinner than I would have eaten if I ate breakfast or lunch. Anytime that I do eat breakfast for whatever reason, I usually feel hungry all day. I can't wait until lunch and often feel like eating a few snacks in addition to the 3 square meals. This makes it more difficult to have a 2000 (or less) calorie day.

I also believe that fasting is very good for our bodies. It helps regulate, cleanse, gives more energy... and gives us more time to do other things than worrying about preparing and eating food.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterstacy

I used to be like you. Eat breakfast and then eat too much later. No more. Wth me it depends on what my food choices are. I need some protein for breakfast. Wheat products are high glycemic.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterleila
As a healthy 33 yr old female I agree that regimented eating is most healthy, and starting out with a nutrient rich breakfast wakes up the system. Even a cup of warm water with lemon wakes up your liver first thing in the morning and is beneficial. However, eating a healthy breakfast helps inform other food choices throughout the day. I believe holding off on meals leads to binge eating later on in the day when the body is deprived of calories from the lack of nourishment earlier on. This can lead to low blood sugar, and poor food decisions since by the time some people eat they are so hungry they reach for "quick fixes" that are not as healthy but rather more easily available. The excuse that you haven't eaten anything yet is also there, so something a bit more unhealthy won't matter as much. I think regulation is key physically and psychologically, and spreading your calories out throughout the day. If you are not hungry for breakfast than you do not have to eat a big breakfast, but make sure the nutrients are there to support the system so that cravings are less likely later on.
October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLD
Last post. I totally agree with you.
October 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterleila

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