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New Study Links Skipping Breakfast to Poor Heart Health

A new study released this week revealed that middle-aged adults who routinely skipped breakfast were found to have a higher risk of clogged arteries than those who ate big breakfasts.  The study suggests that people who eat breakfast, particularily larger ones, are less likely to develop plaques in their arteries.

According to HealthDay, plaques are deposits of fat, calcium and other substances that can build up in arteries, causing them to harden and narrow — a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other complications.

The study included over 4,000 middle-aged individuals aged 40-54 from Spain. The study broke down the group of people by three groups: those who skipped breakfast, those who ate a light breakfast, and those who ate big breakfasts. All three groups showed different levels of subclinical atherosclerosis.

Of those 4,000 adults, 3% were found to be chronic breakfast skippers. Of that 3%, roughly 75% of those who skipped breakfast showed significant plaque build up. This can be compared to the build up in 57 % of people who ate a big breakfast and the 64 % of those who favored a light one.

The study found that people who ate breakfast daily were healthier than those who skipped breakfast. They were less likely to be obese or have high blood pressure. Previous studies have shown that people who ate breakfast are less likely to develop diabetes and unhealthy cholesterol levels as well.

However, according to researcher Jose Penalvo, Ph.D., this study offered objective tests that would provide further evidence that there was a correlation between our eating habits and our overall health. The researchers used ultrasound to screen middle-aged adults for subclinical atherosclerosis, which is early plaque buildup that is not causing any symptoms.

The new study does not entirely prove that skipping breakfast directly harms people’s arteries. However, it does provide further evidence with how our lifestyle and dietary choices can have a hand in the care and maintenance of our overall heart health.

SOURCES: Jose Penalvo, Ph.D., assistant professor, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston; Kim Larson, R.D.N., spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and founder, Total Health, Seattle; Oct. 2, 2017,Journal of the American College of Cardiology

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