Winter 2018

Another Breakfast Benefit

A hearty morning meal is linked to healthier arteries.

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Middle-aged adults who skip breakfast are more likely to have plaque in their arteries than those who eat a filling morning meal, according to José Peñalvo, an adjunct assistant professor at the Friedman School.

In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Peñalvo and his colleagues surveyed 4,000 adults ages 40 to 54, then used ultrasound and other imaging techniques to look for signs of atherosclerosis, the usual cause of heart attacks and strokes. Those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 2.5-times greater risk of plaque than those who ate hearty first meals. The risk was 1.2-times greater in those who eat a light breakfast of less than 20 percent of their daily calories.

The breakfast skippers as a group had some unhealthy habits: Throughout the day, they consumed more red and processed meat and ate less fruit, vegetables, and fiber than the group who ate a big breakfast. But even taking those things into account, missing breakfast was associated with plaque.

Peñalvo said eating a good breakfast may help keep blood-sugar levels stable and appetite in check, which would deter overeating later in the day.

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