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Skipping breakfast could have dire consequences

July 26, 2013

Eating a nutritious breakfast offers numerous benefits. In addition to helping you start the day off on the right foot, it also provides energy and has been shown to boost mental performance throughout the day. Now, new research suggests finding time for breakfast may be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. A study out of the Harvard School of Public Health found that skipping breakfast is tied to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and heart disease.

The study team relied on the answers of more than 26,900 adults who took a food frequency questionnaire. After looking at the answers and tracking the participants' health outcomes over the course of 16 years, researchers found that respondents who regularly did not have breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of experiencing a heart attack or dying from heart disease than those who made time for the meal. Experts say skipping breakfast leads to a higher rate of risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular issues, including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

"Don't skip breakfast," said Dr. Leah E. Cahill, the study's lead author. "Eating breakfast is associated with a decreased risk of heart attacks. Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals."

Of course, a lot depends on what kind of breakfast you're eating. Having bacon and sausage each morning likely won't be a good move for healthy aging. According to the Mayo Clinic, whole grains, which come in the form of cereals and low-fat bran muffins, as well as fruits are essential components of a healthy breakfast for older adults.