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"How a Healthy Breakfast Could Curb Heart Trouble"

A new study links skipping breakfast to a higher risk of clogged arteries. Here’s what you should be eating in the a.m.

Don’t believe in the importance of a healthy breakfast? A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology adds even more credence to the old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

Research in recent years has already provided ample evidence that breakfast skippers tend to have higher rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as higher blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and insulin levels.

But this new study is the first to find that what you eat in the morning has an impact on your risk of early stage atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque buildup). Unchecked, atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to serious health issues, such as heart attack or stroke.

Here’s why a healthy breakfast may be good for your heart, and suggestions for what you should be eating.

How the Study Looked at Breakfast Habits
The new research involved just over 4,000 adults ages 40 to 54, none of whom had a previous history of cardiovascular disease.

Based on their responses to dietary questionnaires, the subjects were divided into three groups: breakfast skippers, which included people who had only coffee or juice; consumers of “low energy” breakfasts (whose morning meals were 5 to 20 percent of their daily caloric intake); and those who ate “high energy” breakfasts, consuming more than 20 percent of their daily calories first thing in the morning.

Ultrasound and other imaging techniques were used to identify signs of atherosclerosis.

Why Breakfast Matters for Your Heart
While doing their calculations, the researchers accounted for various other heart-disease risk factors (such as smoking, waist circumference, and high blood pressure). Even so, they determined that both the breakfast skippers and the low-energy breakfast consumers were at a higher risk for developing atherosclerosis than those who ate a hearty morning meal.

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