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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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