Your mom always told you that breakfast was the most vital meal of the day. Turns out, she might have actually been on to something:Actually most likely to have plaque buildup on their arteries,potentially putting their hearts at risk, a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found.
After interviewing more than 4,000 adults who were free of heart disease on their breakfast habits, researchers broke them up into three groups: breakfast skippers, light breakfast eaters—taking in between 5 to 20 percent of their total calories during their morning meal—and heavy breakfast eaters, or those who took in 20 percent or more of their total daily calories during breakfast. Then, they carried out ultrasound tests on the participants to gauge their arteries for early symptons of atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque.
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They noticed that people who skipped breakfast were more than twice as likely to have signs of plaque buildup in at least four of the six locations measured, including right and left sides in their neck, abdominal, and pelvic areas.
And people who ate light breakfasts were equally at risk, too—just not to as large an extent as those who skipped it completely. Forexample, those who just ate a little in the morning were 21 percent more likely to show buildup in their neck arteries than those who ate hearty breakfasts. Breakfast skippers, on the other hand, were 76 percent more likely to have plaque buildup in their neck arteries.
That’s an issue: Your neck arteries deliver blood flow to your brain, so if plaque is clogging them up, that can result in a blockage—potentially causing a stroke.
So why might breakfast skippers be at greater risk? It may have to do with how they eat in general, the researchers believe. Nearly half of those who don’t eat breakfast fit the “social-business eating pattern”—similar to a business traveler, meaning they eat out frequently as part of their busy schedules. Breakfast skippers are also more iinclined to eat more processed meats later in the day, as well as more appetizers, sugary beverages, and alcohol.
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That can make the weight increase, which is bad news for your arteries. The more excess fat you have, the greater your body’s production of inflammatory compounds tends to be, which can result in plaque buildup, the researchers say.
Now, the researchers can’t say for certain whether skipping breakfast actually causes these changes. It might simply be that not eating breakfast makes you make poorer food choices later in the day—or, it could be that people who are already trying to lose weight to improve health factors may be tempted to skip breakfast to do so.
Bottom line: If you find yourself hungry at lunch—or hitting the break room for donuts before the 10:00 a.m. meeting ends—you may want to bulk up your breakfast. Don’t have time for a sit-down meal? No worries: The best breakfast for men