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.