Published: Wed, February 01, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Regular meal patterns may protect against heart disease

Regular meal patterns may protect against heart disease

"We know from population studies that eating breakfast is related to lower weight and healthier diet, along with lower risk of cardiovascular disease", St-Onge said.

Victoria Taylor, a dietitian at the British Heart Foundation said compared to 30 years ago more meals are skipped or eaten on the go, as well as later in the day - likely due to our busy lifestyles.

"However, interventions to increase breakfast consumption in those who typically skip breakfast do not support a strong causal role of this meal for weight management, in particular", St-Onge cautioned.

Apart from promoting breakfast, the statement emphasized the importance of eating a healthy diet with a focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, as well as poultry.

Meal timing and frequency have also been linked to risk factors for heart disease and stroke including obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose levels and insulin resistance, as well as reduced insulin sensitivity, the experts warned. After looking at all the existing studies on the relationship between the timing and frequency of our meals (including snacks) and heart health, they came to some interesting, if not definitive, conclusions.

They also said people who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese, have inadequate nutrition, show evidence of impaired glucose metabolism or be diagnosed with diabetes.

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It is understood individuals should be consuming about 15 to 25 percent of the daily energy intake at breakfast time, which would equate to about 300 to 500 calories for women and 375 to 625 calories for men.

They also reminded the public to be cautious of eating too much red meat, along with foods high in added sugar and salt - adding that meal timing can have an impact on exactly how detrimental to health poor dietary choices can be.

Planning meals and snacks in advance and eating breakfast every day may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, new guidelines from USA doctors say.

"There's conflicting evidence about meal frequency", said Dr Marie-Pierre St-Onge, lead study author and associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University. Studies have found people who eat breakfast daily are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure, and people who skip breakfast - about 20 percent to 30 percent of USA adults - are more likely to be obese, have inadequate nutrition, show evidence of impaired glucose metabolism or be diagnosed with diabetes, she said.

That shift in meal patterns may have serious implications for the development of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, the AHA experts stress.

The evidence does seems to suggest, however, that occasional fasting - that is, not eating one to two times per week or every other day - may contribute to short-term weight loss. People in the US now have a habit of eating around the clock rather than sticking to certain meal times.

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