The benefits of eating a healthy breakfast have previously included weight control and improved daily energy levels – but now another, far more serious benefit has been added to the list: it keeps your heart healthy.
Researchers from Harvard University have discovered that skipping breakfast puts people at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes – all of which can lead to heart disease.
People who skip breakfast are more likely to drink excessively and smoke, however the researchers were able to isolate the act of skipping breakfast apart from other factors.
“We ruled out everything except for the timing of the meal – the actual breaking of fast,” says Dr Leah Cahill, lead researcher.
“When your body is fasting it goes into a protective drive, raising your blood pressure, raising levels of insulin and cholesterol. If you don’t breakfast in the morning you’re putting an extra strain on your body after it’s already been fasting all night.”
Doing this over a number of years can cause you to develop a resistance to insulin, leading to diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The study in question looked at the eating habits of 27,000 male health professionals between the ages of 45 and 82 over 16 years. Another study is due to take place looking at the impact on females, but the researchers doubt there will be any difference between the genders.
Late-night snacking was found to be even worse for your heart, with men who stated they ate after going to bed having a 55% increased chance of heart disease. This is thought to be again, due to putting strain on the body, overloading it with the task of digesting food overnight.
To find out more about how your diet affects your heart health, please see our Heart Disease page.
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