From the full English to a continental croissant, the importance of a hearty breakfast has long been debated but now scientists say skipping the morning meal could be linked to poorer cardiovascular health.

We’ve been told since we were children that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives us energy to do our daily tasks and can discourage overeating at night. But a new study says breakfast has a benefit that goes straight to your heart.

The findings reveal that, compared with those who rushed down a high energy breakfast, those who missed the meal had a greater extent of the early stages of atherosclerosis – a build up of fatty material inside the arteries.

Study strongly supports the traditional belief

People who skip breakfast are not only eating late but also have a poor lifestyle, suggests research by Valentin Fuster, co-author of the research by cardiovascular research institute.

The results of the research show that those who consume less than 5 percent of their daily calorie intake for breakfast may have double the risk of subclinical atherosclerosis compared with people who have a high-energy breakfast.

A high-energy breakfast might comprise a good source of protein - such as yogurt or eggs - whole grains, and fruit.

Should aim for 20% of daily calories at breakfast

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the research looked at the the health and diets of roughly 4,000 middle aged bank workers both men and women with no previous case of cardiovascular disease.

The results reveal that, compared to those tucking into more than 20% of their daily calories at breakfast, those who consumed next to nothing for breakfast had a greater extent of atherosclerosis.

While almost 57% of those eating a high-energy breakfast had sub-clinical atherosclerosis, the figure was almost 75% among those who skipped the meal.

Skipping breakfast likely leads to poor lifestyle choices

Whilst skipping breakfast by itself plays a big factor in your body’s health, another issue may be what you eat afterwards. The study found that those who skipped breakfast are more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure, frequently consume alcohol, smoke, and eat high levels of red meat.

This suggests the pattern of eating and the amount consumed is a significant indictor of poor heart health.  Data also suggests that disrupting this pattern of eating would disrupt the body’s internal clock. This means that individuals will usually end up eating more calories at unusual times. Disturbing your body’s internal clock also means that blood pressure goes up, hunger hormones get thrown off and blood sugar control goes south.

One bad habit people can change

Fuster says that the findings show that skipping breakfast is "one bad habit people can proactively change to reduce their risk for heart disease."

Adverse effects of skipping breakfast can be seen early in childhood in the form of childhood obesity, and although breakfast skippers are generally attempting to lose weight, they often end up eating more and unhealthier foods later in the day.

Poor dietary choices are generally made relatively early in life and, if remained unchanged, can lead to clinical cardiovascular disease later on. Skipping breakfast can cause hormonal imbalances and alter circadian rhythms (body clocks). The theory that breakfast is the most important meal of the day has been proven right in light of this evidence.

If you are worried about your cardiovascular health, or any other symptoms, then see your doctor at your local surgery or at a location and time that suits you via the Qure app. Download the Qure app here ->

Charlie Harington