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Eating breakfast protects the heart and counteracts anxiety and depression

Eating breakfast protects the heart and counteracts anxiety and depression

March 06, 2023
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Eating a healthy, nutritious and energetic breakfast improves mood, counteracts anxiety and depression and reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Not only that, we now know that breakfast also protects the heart, improving the elasticity of the arteries and keeping blood pressure under better control. This emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the journal Nutrients by a Greek team (Besdeki et al, Nutrients, 2023).

Breakfast, the benefits

Eating breakfast is a healthy habit, which, contrary to what one might believe, even helps to reduce the body mass index and the risk of developing obesity (Timlin et al, Nutrition Reviews, 2007). Not only that, eating breakfast, as reported by the study we are talking about today, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, improves mood and counteracts anxiety and depression. But what happens at the level of the cardiovascular system? Could eating a healthy and balanced breakfast improve heart health parameters and help prevent cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular health, here are the indices to evaluate it

To evaluate cardiovascular health there are indices, such as central and peripheral blood pressure, the augmentation index, which when high represents an increase in cardiovascular risk, the stiffness of the arteries and the carotid intima-media thickness, which is an early marker of atherosclerosis. From the analysis of these indices it is possible to estimate the state of health of the cardiovascular system.

The importance of breakfast on heart health, the study

Greek scientists recruited 902 adults, all healthy but with an increased cardiovascular risk. This means that all volunteers had at least one cardiovascular risk factor, such as being a smoker, having high cholesterol or hypertension, or having a family history of cardiovascular disease. For all the volunteers, data relating to the consumption of breakfast, with what frequency and the type of breakfast were reported. Then, all study participants underwent physician visits to assess cardiovascular health indicators. What emerged was that those who used to skip breakfast had on average higher total cholesterol, LDL bad cholesterol and triglycerides values than those who habitually ate breakfast. Not only that, habitually consuming breakfast was associated with a reduction in blood pressure values but also in the aortic augmentation index and carotid intima media thickness. This means that those who habitually eat breakfast have a lower cardiovascular risk. But the type of breakfast also has its say. In fact, an energetic breakfast, compared to one with a low energy intake, is connected to a lower aortic augmentation index, which is considered protective for cardiovascular risk. In the same way, it is protective for cardiovascular health to include foods such as milk and dairy products, whole fruits and fruit juices, while a high consumption of foods that are too rich in sugar worsens cardiovascular indices. It is believed that the protective effect of dairy products is due to the release of some bioactive peptides during the digestion of milk proteins. These peptides work to reduce the stiffness of blood vessels. Fruits and fruit juices contain flavonoids, which are valuable antioxidants with a protective role on the heart.


Here's another proof that it's important not to skip breakfast, for heart health, but also to counteract anxiety and depression and even obesity. Not only that, the type of breakfast also plays an essential role. In fact, a healthy and balanced breakfast, which provides energy but also nutrients and antioxidants, including fruit or fruit juices, milk and dairy products, is more beneficial than a low-energy breakfast based only on a cup of coffee.

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