According to a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, those who skip breakfast are more likely to experience atherosclerosis, aka hardening of the arteries, than those who ate a daily, healthy meal in the morning. 1
The connection, it appears, is that those who are breakfast skippers tend to have more unhealthy diets and lifestyles than those who don’t. They found in the study that overall, those who opt to skip breakfast had poorer diets, were more likely to have high blood pressure or be overweight, and were more likely to smoke or consume alcohol in excess. All of these factors lead to an increased risk for atherosclerosis. Lack of breakfast is not the cause, per se, but an indicator of other health habits.
Now, when I read the study synopsis I was suddenly reminded of another study I recently perused. It linked low potassium intake with hardening of the arteries.2 I got to thinking. Does lack of a morning meal also mean less nutrient intake overall, and therefore decreased intake of critical nutrients for heart health?
Think about it. If you are skipping an entire meal, one that for most provides roughly one quarter to one third of a person’s daily calories and nutrients, wouldn’t this eventually have an impact on nutrient status (particularly potassium) and therefore one’s heart?
The daily recommended intake for potassium is 4,700 mg per day. This is easily achieved if the diet is full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and dairy. This is hard to achieve if one lives on processed foods and is skipping meals.
It seems, therefore, that skipping an important meal, one that has the potential to provide a good dose of nutrition, could be a serious problem. Now, if a person is very diligent with their diet the rest of the day and makes up those nutrients elsewhere, clearly this is less likely to be a problem. But let’s be honest: that is not most of us.
So while we thought the great breakfast debate had died down, evidently it has not. Here we have yet another reason to start your day off right. Eat your breakfast, and make sure it is healthy… for your heart’s sake.
Now that begs the question: what constitutes a healthy breakfast? Let’s dive into some potassium rich breakfast ideas to get you going in the morning:
1. Sweet potato hash and eggs
2. Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
3. Protein shakes:
. Add banana and/or berries
. Add avocado
. Mix with coconut water for a super potassium boost
4. Egg scramble with spinach, broccoli and onions
5. Avocado toast
6. Smoked salmon or lox on toast w/ fruit on the side (cantaloupe is a great choice!)
Hope those ideas get you started! Just remember, starting your morning with healthy foods straight away sets you up for a day of healthy eating. So eat something, even it is small, and get your day off to a good start. Your heart will thank you.