Breakfast is often acknowledged as the most important meal of the day, yet many of us skip it. Our working days seem to leave little time to enjoy a good breakfast in peace; instead, we rush out the door on an empty stomach. However, new research from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health has found that breakfast can actually be a lifesaver.
The study – which surveyed 26,903 men, ages 45 to 82, over a 16-year period – found a clear association between skipping breakfast and experiencing a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease. Even after the researchers took into account other heart risk factors like exercise, sleep and diet, the statistics showed an incredible 27 per cent increase in one’s probability of having a heart attack or dying from coronary disease if breakfast is skipped.
“Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more of the associated risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time,” explained the study’s lead researcher, Leah E Cahill.
Interestingly, the study also found a link between the timing of one’s evening meal and coronary heart disease and heart attack. If you eat your dinner right before bedtime, statistics showed that you will have a 55 per cent higher risk of experiencing either of these serious heart-related problems. This statistic is especially significant since many people, especially in this region, eat their evening meal late into the night.
The message is that your body needs time to digest food before you go to bed.
The worrying factor is that those people who tend to eat right before bedtime are often the ones that skip breakfast, too; they’re simply not hungry and not able to entertain the thought of food so early in the morning.
For breakfast, start with simple drinks such as smoothies or fresh vegetable juices. These are light enough to digest, but they’re full of vital nutrition and energy that will support the body and the heart. In the evening, try to eat at least two to three hours before going to bed.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.beutifulyou.co.uk