We’ve heard about the many dangers of heart disease and lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of heart disease. But according to a study published in July in the journal of the American Heart Association Circulation, there are two specific things that can increase your risk of heart disease. Almost 20% of Americans skip breakfast, long considered to be the most important meal of the day, and studies have shown that skipping this one meal is associated with a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, and getting high blood pressure and diabetes. This study wanted to analyze the impact of two key lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of heart disease. The prospective study was conducted over a period of 16 years, and analyzed the eating habits and the risk of coronary heart disease in more than 26,000 middle-aged and elderly American male health professionals. The researchers found two specific factors that increased your risk of heart disease:
Men who didn’t eat breakfast had a 33% higher risk of heart disease, compared to those who didn’t skip breakfast
Men who ate a late-night snack had a 55% higher risk of heart disease, compared to men who didn’t eat late at night
The study found that doing those two things substantially increased the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Many people often believe that they can’t change their risk factors for certain diseases—but a disease like heart disease can be prevented by making lifestyle factors.
Studies, such as the one mentioned above, show that starting your day off right can make a big difference in your health. Other studies have shown that the benefits of eating healthy food can prevent us from coronary heart disease and other illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. While this study only looked at a specific group of Americans, the results can be extrapolated and can help us learn about the benefits of eating healthy foods.
The fact that men who ate a midnight snack had a higher risk of heart disease, shows something we’ve known all along: it’s best to eat throughout the day, rather than at night when our bodies are not moving or getting any exercise. About half of all Americans have one of the three key risk factors for heart disease (high LDL cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure). The fact remains that heart disease can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, such as by reaping the benefits of eating healthy food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heart disease kills one in four Americans every year—making these two simple changes is a good start to help lower this high statistic.
By: Vickie Tobianah
“Heart disease facts,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site; http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm, last accessed August 22, 2013.
“Prospective study of breakfast eating and incident coronary heart disease in a cohort of male US health professionals,” Circulation. July 23, 2013; 128: 337-343.