The Most Important Meal of the Day? Maybe Not

It has long been believed that breakfast serves as the most important meal of the day.  However, new research looking at the association between breakfast and cardiovascular disease may provide insight on the actual importance. A recent study looked at the association between eating breakfast and the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. They found that most individuals eat breakfast every day, with only a small percentage of individuals who never eat breakfast.


An important finding from their research is that individuals who did not eat breakfast differed in substantial ways from those who ate breakfast every day. In other words, we cannot conclude that the health differences observed were due to not eating breakfast. While the researchers adjusted for the various lifestyle factors, their adjustment for income may not have been sufficient. Income can be a significant predictor for the ability to eat breakfast every day.


On average, 6 out of 1000 individuals who ate breakfast every day died from cardiovascular events. On the other hand, 7 out of 1000 individuals who never ate breakfast died from cardiovascular events. While this may indicate a difference, 4 out of 1000 who either sometimes or rarely ate breakfast died from cardiovascular events. Given that there does not appear to be a dose-response relationship, or linear pattern, to the data we cannot conclude an effect from breakfast.

Overall, these results do not allow us to infer causality from eating or not eating breakfast. Additionally, we cannot conclude that not eating breakfast is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While our mothers may have preached to us our whole lives that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, the data does not provide us with significant results to support this claim. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help provide healthy lifestyle consultations specific to nutrition, exercise, and health literacy. We can help provide support for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease through nutrition and physical activity interventions.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: How Important is Breakfast, Really? F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE – Medscape– April 24, 2019.; Rong, S., Snetselaar, L.G., Xu, G., et al. (2019).  Association of skipping breakfast with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.  Journal of American College of Cardiology, 73, 2025-2032. Photo by Rachel Park on Unsplash

What's the deal with the Keto diet?

The Ketogenic, or Keto, diet is a low-calorie, high-fat diet that has risen to recent popularity with the assistance of celebrity endorsements and social media.  This diet, however, may not be a healthy long-term option. The Keto diet emphasizes a low-calorie, low-carb, high-fat diet. The primary objective of the diet is to put your body in ketosis, which is a metabolic process in which we use fat for energy instead of sugar. Our body’s preferred energy source is carbohydrates. The Keto diet, however, forces our body to use fats instead. The diet has been used as medical nutrition therapy for those with neurological conditions but only under strict supervision.


While the Keto diet often results in initial weight loss, dietitians warn that this initial loss may be due to the loss of water weight. Additionally, there are several potential health concerns related to the diet that include constipation, increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol, increased risk for chronic disease, and the long-term impact on the heart is unknown. There have been several studies in support of the Keto diet for weight loss, however, the diet comes with several downsides and there is not enough research on the long-term effects on our body from eating a high-fat diet. The Keto diet can also be rather difficult to follow and adhere to.

So what kind of diet is recommended? Dietitians suggest cutting back on ultra-processed, high carb foods (e.g., sugary beverages) and refined grains. They recommend that you eat nutritious carbs such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, low-fat dairy, and 100% whole grains. They note that there are effective diets that have strong research and evidence supporting short-term and long-term effects, such as the Mediterranean Diet.

While the Keto diet may lead to initial weight loss, adherence can be difficult and negative long-term health benefits are unknown. The diet may increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Further, more beneficial, evidence-support diets are available (e.g., Mediterranean Diet). The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to nutrition and diet. We an assist with providing support for adhering to a healthy diet and supporting long-term health.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Ketogenic Diets are B.S. for Weight Loss – Here’s Why. Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN – Good Housekeeping Institute – July 20, 2018; The 5 Most Common Arguments for the KetoDiet, Debunked. Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN – Good Housekeeping Institute – August 28, 2018;  Beuno, N., de Melo, I., de Oliveira, S., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carb Ketogenicdiet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1178-1187.; Lima, P., de Brito Sampaio, L., & Damasceno, N. (2015). Ketogenicdiet in epileptic children: Impact on lipoproteins and oxidative stress. Nutritional Neuroscience, 18(8), 337-344. Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash. Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Ultra-processed Foods Linked to Higher Mortality

Researchers have recently found that an increased proportion of ultra-processed foods in your diet is associated with a higher risk of mortality, or early death.  Ultra-processed foods refer to the mass-produced, read-to-eat foods that tend to have harmful food additives and contaminants.  These types of food include packaged snacks, sugary drinks, breads, candies, ready-made meals, and processed meats.  One of the issues with consuming ultra-processed foods is that they tend to have a high caloric content with little nutritional value.  These foods are often referred to as “empty calories” as they offer no nutritional value but are included in our overall caloric intake.

Examples of several common ultra-processed foods

Examples of several common ultra-processed foods

This recent finding outlines the relationship between ultra-processed foods and mortality.  Ultra-processed foods were observed to be linked to an increased risk for chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, and cancer.  Additionally, they have been found to be associated with a higher BMI and lower physical activity.  Ultra-processed foods are typically low in fiber and high in carbohydrates, saturated fats, and salt.  Researchers believe that it is the presence of additives, high salt, high sugar, and low fiber that may be contributing to the increased risk of disease and early death.  In fact, they found that for every 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods, there was a 14% increased risk of all-cause death.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can assist by providing specific consultations related to nutrition and ultra-processed foods.  Additionally, we can assist with making healthy diet choices and adhering to eating a well-balanced diet for improved health outcomes.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources:  Consuming Ultraprocessed Foods Tied to Higher Mortality.  Veronica Hackethal, MD – Medscape– February, 11, 2019.; Schnabel, L., Kesse-Guyet, E., Alles, B., et al. (2019).  Association between ultraprocessed food consumption and risk of mortality among middle-aged adults in France.  JAMA Internal Medicine.

Cardiovascular Disease and the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet includes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish and limits the consumption of refined grains, oils, and processed meat.  Researchers have found that this diet has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  Specifically, they found that an adherence to this diet resulted in a 25% reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.  Furthermore, they found that incorporating this diet could have a similar benefit as statins and other preventative medications.  The reduced risk of CVD events may be attributable to a reduction in inflammation, glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, and a decrease in fat.  For those at a higher genetic risk for cardiovascular disease, the Mediterranean Diet might serve as a healthy diet for lowering their risk.

The Mediterranean Diet is less of a strict diet and more of a way of life, in terms of dietary intake.  It is recommended that you eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, and an emphasis on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as avocados, walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil.  A Mediterranean Diet involves eating poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation and eating red meat rarely.  It is recommended that you avoid consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meats, and refined grains and oils.


Following the Mediterranean Diet can have multiple health benefits such as a decrease in fat and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help provide consultations specific to nutrition and education related to the Mediterranean Diet.  We can also provide support for maintaining and adhering to a healthy lifestyle and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources:  Mediterranean Diet Linked to Drop in CVD Risk, Batya Swift Yasgur.  Medscape– December 10, 2018; Mediterranean Diet 101:  A Meal Plan and Beginner’s Guide, Kris Gunnars.  Healthline– July 24, 2018; Ahmad, S., Moorthy, V., & Demler, D. (2018).  Assessment of risk factors and biomarkers associated with risk of cardiovascular disease among women consuming a Mediterranean diet.  JAMA, 1(8), e185708. Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Eating Habits and Weight Loss

Research has found that reducing your eating speed may be an effective strategy for preventing obesity and lowering associated health risks.  Several eating habits were identified that were associated with improved health outcomes, specifically with obesity and waist circumference.  Individuals who were slow eaters tended to be healthier and have a healthier lifestyle.  Additionally, normal eaters were 29% less likely to be obese and slow eaters were 42% less likely to be obese when compared to fast eaters.  Researchers have found that slow eaters tend to eat less calories per meal, feel full more quickly, and spend more time enjoying their food, therefore are satisfied with less.


Several various eating habits were strongly associated with lower obesity: slower eating speed, cutting out after dinner snacks, and not eating within 2 hours of bedtime.  Adopting these three eating habits may help lower obesity and weight (BMI), and lead to a smaller waist circumference.  Not eating dinner 2 hours before bedtime was associated with a 10% reduced risk of obesity, while not snacking after dinner decreased the risk of obesity by 15%.  Another potential effective intervention for eating slower and reducing obesity is mindful eating.  Mindful eating develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between triggers and actions.  Additionally, this practice can also be used to help reduce emotional or stress eating.

While these findings come from an observational study, they provide promising results on the importance of healthy eating habits.  Adopting the eating habits of eating slower, not eating dinner 2 hours before bedtime, and not snacking after dinner may help improve health outcomes and decrease obesity.  These findings were particularly significant for those with Type 2 Diabetes.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing nutrition consultations specific to your health goals that help provide education on health eating habits.  Further, we can provide behavior change techniques to help you adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors and habits.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources:  Hurst, Y. & Fukuoka, H. (2018).  Effects of changes in eating speed on obesity in patients with diabetes:  A secondary analysis of longitudinal health check-up date. BMJ Open, 8(1), e019589.; Eating more slowly can help weight loss. Nicky BroydMedscape ,Feb. 14, 2018. Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash


Healthy Diet Linked to Improved Memory, Preventing Mental Illness

Research has found that eating a healthy diet long-term can help reduce hippocampus decline and can improve memory later in life. As we age, our hippocampus, which is the memory portion of the brain, naturally shrinks.  A smaller hippocampus has been found to be associated with cognitive decline.  Researchers found that adults who ate a higher-quality diet had significantly larger hippocampus.  This finding was independent of other factors such as smoking, physical activity, and demographic. A healthy diet is one that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes, omega-3 fats, and polyunsaturated fatty acids and limits sugar-sweetened drinks, red and processed meat, trans fat, and sodium-rich products.  Furthermore, researchers found that low alcohol intake was a key component in larger hippocampus volume.

This finding is important as a poor diet is the leading cause of early death across middle and high-income countries.  Additionally, mental health disorders have the highest burden of disabilities.  These researchers highlight the important connection between a healthy diet and improved memory.  Adopting a healthy diet can help to improve physical and mental health in addition to improving memory later in life.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help provide education on nutrition specific to your health needs and goals.  We can help by providing support for maintaining your diet long-term and therefore improving your physical and mental health.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources. :  Akbaraly, et al. (2018).  Association of long-term diet quality with hippocampus volume:  Longitudinal cohort study.  The American Journal of Medicine; Healthy Midlife Diet May Preserve Memory, Prevent Mental Illness – Medscape – Sep 12, 2018.