If You Skip This Meal, Your Heart May Be in Danger, Studies Say

Research has found that when you eat may be just as important as what you eat.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all important meals, as eating several times throughout the day gives us the nutrients we need to keep going. When life gets busy, however, it can be hard to remember the importance of all three meals—which means that some days, you may end up missing one entirely. Unfortunately, staying healthy isn't just a matter of what you eat, but also when you eat. Research has found that skipping one meal in particular could be putting your heart in danger. Read on to find out which meal you should make sure to eat, and for more on keeping your heart healthy, If You Drink This Every Day, Your Heart Could Be in Danger, Study Finds.

People who skip breakfast are more likely to develop heart disease.

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A 2020 meta-analysis published in the journal Clinical Nutrition underscored the findings of seven different studies in relation to heart health and skipping breakfast. The researchers analyzed more than 221,730 participants and found that skipping breakfast was associated with a 22 percent elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

Another 2019 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease found similar results after analyzing data from four different studies from the U.S. and Japan. According to this study, those who regularly skipped breakfast were 21 percent more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than people who regularly consumed breakfast. And for things you should be avoiding, This Supplement Can Cause Cardiac Arrest If You Take Too Much, Doctors Say.

These individuals are also more likely to die from heart-related problems.

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A 2019 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who skipped breakfast were also more likely to die from heart-related issues. The researchers looked at the death rates for 6,550 Americans aged 40 to 75 from 1988 and 2011, with about 15 percent saying they "never" or "rarely" ate breakfast. When adjusting for other various factors, the researchers concluded that these patients who regularly skipped breakfast raised their odds of death from any cause by 19 percent. But they raised their risk of dying from heart-related events such as a heart attack or stroke by a staggering 87 percent compared to people who ate breakfast every day.

Another study from the same year also found that skipping breakfast raises your potential for worse outcomes after a heart attack. The researchers for the study, which was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, analyzed the eating habits of 113 heart attack patients and found that those who skipped breakfast and ate dinner near bedtime were four to five times more likely to die, have another heart attack, or experience angina within 30 days after getting discharged from the hospital. And for more reasons to be concerned, If This Wakes You Up at Night, Your Heart May Be in Danger, Experts Warn.

People who skip breakfast tend to be more unhealthy overall.

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According to American Heart Association (AHA), other research has found that people who skip breakfast are more likely to have diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. Unfortunately, all three of these complications are risk factors for heart disease, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The AHA also notes that people who skip breakfast are more likely to have other unhealthy habits as well, including not exercising and consuming more calories throughout the day.

"Overall, not eating breakfast is a marker for being unhealthy and having an unhealthy lifestyle," Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, a professor of nutrition at Penn State University and chair of the AHA's Council on Lifestyle, told Healthline. "What we eat and also how we live our lives can affect body weight, waist circumference, and, in turn, cardiovascular disease." And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Less than half of Americans eat breakfast every day.

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Given the heart health risks, it's clear that breakfast is an essential meal—and people know that. In fact, a 2009 Food & Health Survey found that 93 percent of Americans agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But just because Americans think that it's an essential meal doesn't mean they're actually following through on their beliefs. That same survey found that less than half of Americans (just 44 percent) say they are actually eating breakfast every single day. And this may have gotten worse over the years: A 2019 survey conducted by OnePoll and food brand Sabra found that the average American eats breakfast only three times a week, while 13 percent say they rarely, if ever, eat breakfast. And for a specific food you should be adding to your diet, Eating This One Thing Can Cut Your Cancer Risk in Half, New Study Says.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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