If you take an unofficial poll of your family, friends, and coworkers about whether or not they eat breakfast in the morning, you may find that most of them don’t eat breakfast (and if they do eat breakfast, it’s hardly a healthy one).

What about you? Is eating breakfast a part of your morning routine? If it’s not, you’re certainly not alone.  In fact, the 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that 18 percent of adults skip breakfast while a whopping 86 percent of adults snack.

As you know, nutrition plays an important role in your health. And some studies report that skipping breakfast is associated with poor cardiovascular factors (such as insulin sensitivity, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension).

Looking further at the effects of eating habits on heart health, a prospective cohort study evaluated the eating habits of men. The researchers found a 27 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) among men who didn’t eat breakfast compared with those who ate breakfast; they also found that men who ate late-night meals had a 55 percent increased risk of CHD compared with men who did not eat late at night. This study concluded that eating breakfast is associated with lowering the risk of CHD in men—in other words it showed a troubling correlation, but that doesn’t mean that skipping breakfast causes CHD.

To Eat or Not To Eat

A lot of emphasis has been placed on breakfast because, well, it is important. Eating a healthy meal in the morning helps to jump-start your day. You’ll feel energized and focused. Also, starting your day off with a good meal will reduce the likelihood that you’ll eat sugary snacks and a heavy lunch later on to offset a low-energy morning.

Breakfast tip: Stay away from on-the-go cereal bars and sugary pastries. Opt for oatmeal because it’s packed with fiber, and top it with a healthy serving of proteins and complex carbohydrates, like walnuts and fruit. This will keep you sated and help regulate your blood sugar levels, so you don’t feel cranky, hungry, and tired.

Your health is complex, which makes it difficult to attribute one habit (like skipping breakfast) to developing heart disease. Other factors, such as a lack of physical activity, stress, and a poor diet can contribute to heart disease, too. But I suggest that you don’t skip breakfast, because it helps fuel your body with the nutrients that it needs. Follow a routine that works for you and make sure that it includes eating healthy fats, proteins, and carbs.

Kant AK, Graubard BI. Secular trends in patterns of self-reported food consumption of adult Americans: NHANES 1971-1975 to NHANES 1999–2002. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006;84(5):1215-1223.
Cahill LE, Chiuve SE, Mekary RA, et al. Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals. Circulation. July 23, 2013 2013;128(4):337-343.