We all know that a low-fat, high-fiber diet and plenty of fruits and vegetables is good for us. But assuming a healthy diet, when you eat may be more important than what or how often you eat. Leah Cahill—a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health—and her team analyzed the eating habits of nearly 27,000 men ranging in age from 45 to 82. They found that those who skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) than those who ate a morning meal. And those who got up in the middle of the night for a snack increased their CHD risk by 55% over those who stayed in bed.
Of course, it’s pretty unlikely that skipping breakfast and having after-dinner snacks are directly responsible for the increase in CHD risk. It could be that the fiber and protein (whole wheat toast, eggs, high-fiber cereals, etc.) in many breakfasts are reducing the risk. Or it could be that the foods most people eat as midnight snacks (cookies, cake, ice cream, etc.) are high in fat, cholesterol, and calories, which increase CHD risk. Or it could be that people who are less stressed and anxious—both of which lower CHD risk—are more likely to take the time to eat breakfast–and don’t wake up in the middle of the night to eat–than those under a lot of stress.
The study was published in the journal Circulation. You can read an excerpt here.