Skipping Breakfast Puts Your Heart at Risk

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Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 06/16/2014

Skipping Breakfast Puts Your Heart at Risk

We’ve long-known that skipping breakfast isn’t good for your. In fact, there's many studies about the benefits of breakfast. Now we have  evidence to show just how big the impact is of skipping breakfast on heart health. In a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at Australia’s University of Tasmania followed 2,184 volunteers over two decades.

What they found is that skipping breakfast triggers higher blood insulin levels and higher cholesterol. Plus, it changes the way your body stores fat, leading to more fat storage around the middle. All of these are major risk factors for heart disease and warning signs that diabetes could soon develop. Skipping breakfast puts your heart at risk in so many ways.

In fact, the researchers found that those participants who were accustomed to skipping breakfast in childhood and continued skipping breakfast into adulthood did damage to their heart health and were well on their way to developing cardiovascular disease by the time they were in their late twenties. But eating a heart-healthy breakfast is only half the battle. The other half is making the right food choices…

What Makes a Heart-Healthy Breakfast?

When people tell me what they eat for breakfast, usually my first response is, “Where’s the protein?” In order to avoid a high insulin response, it’s important to eat protein with your morning meal. There’s another benefit here, too. Heart-healthy proteins provide slow-burning energy that will keep you energized, and increase your satiety until your mid-day meal.

One good protein-rich choice for a heaert-healthy breakfast is eggs. While the traditional Mediterranean diet suggests limiting eggs to a few times per week, I feel you’ll be fine eating eggs on a regular basis, as long as they come from free-range chickens raised on organic feed. In addition to being a good protein source, eggs provide choline which is vital for your circulatory and neurologic systems. They also contain DHA, an essential fatty acid.

Other good heart healthy protein choices for breakfast include salmon, organic chicken sausage, organic peanut butter, almonds, and walnuts. I recommend combining them with slow-burning carbohydrates—such as putting peanut butter on a slice of whole-grain bread. Or, try topping your steel cut oatmeal with slivered almonds and walnut pieces. Be sure to see my other recommendations to make other heart-healthy breakfast choices.

Now it’s your turn: What kind of heart-healthy breakfast do you eat?

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