A recent New York Times article with the evocative headline “The Case for a Breakfast Feast” makes a good argument that it’s not only what people are eating that’s important but also when they’re eating it.
One of the story’s sources, a statement from the American Heart Association that was published in its journal, Circulation, mentioned the importance of not skipping breakfast and planning meals for lowering risk factors for heart attack, stroke or other cardiac or blood vessel diseases.
It said that studies have found people who eat breakfast are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure and those who skip breakfast—20 to 30 percent of American adults—are more likely to have risk factors.
That AHA statement also stressed the importance of having a heart-healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish, along with avoiding red meat, salt and foods high in added sugars.
The most recent research cited in the Times story was an article published by the American Academy of Nutrition this July using data from more than 50,000 adult members of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in the U.S. and Canada. It said that not only do breakfast-eaters fare better than breakfast-skippers but those who consumed breakfast as their largest meal experienced a significant decrease in body mass index.
While eating a breakfast fit for royalty might sound like an enjoyable adjustment for some, it’s probably best to keep any such conclusions in relative terms, said Katie Jordanhazy, a registered dietitian with Novant Health.
“Eating breakfast has major positive health impacts. It kick-starts our bodies into calorie-burning mode in order to get energy from our food.” Jordanhazy said. “But this is not to say that eating a giant-sized breakfast and very small dinner will make you lose weight or minimize cardiovascular risk. Overeating at any time is never a good idea.”
Jordanhazy said eating the right foods and not skipping meals are of equal importance for both waistlines and cardiovascular health. While she said it’s a good idea for anyone to give their body a couple hours to digest food before bed, there’s not a particular time everyone should stop eating in their day.
Many of the risk factors that impact heart health can be modified and include managing blood pressure, healthy diets, getting exercise and quitting smoking.
How's your heart health? Novant Health has launched a community-wide campaign called the 10,000 Healthy Hearts Challenge with a goal to educate 10,000 people about their heart health by 2018.
Take the online heart health risk assessment, which analyzes cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes and body mass index. Then, tag five friends on social media using #NHHealthyHearts to spread the word. Once you accept the challenge, look for helpful wellness tips, recipe ideas and stress management reminders sent to your inbox to manage your heart health.