If you want to live a long life, here are two simple changes you can make for a healthy heart…

The small lifestyle choices we make each day add up when it comes to heart health.

Now, a two-part stay has found that two simple changes make a big difference – eat a good breakfast and watch less TV.

Published in the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that people who spent less time watching TV and regularly ate an energy-rich breakfast showed significantly less plaque and stiffness in their arteries, indicating a lower chance of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke.

“Environmental and lifestyle factors are important but underestimated risk factors for cardiovascular diseases,” said Sotirios Tsalamandris, MD, a cardiologist at the First Cardiology Clinic at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, and the study’s lead author. “These two studies emphasise the many factors that impact heart disease and the need for holistic preventive approaches.”

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Researchers assessed markers of heart health in 2 000 people living in Corinthia, Greece.

Downsides of too much TV

After accounting for cardiovascular risk factors and heart disease status, researchers found that those watching the most TV per week were almost twice as likely to have plaque buildup in the arteries compared with those watching the least.

“Our results emphasise the importance of avoiding prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour,” Tsalamandris said. “These findings suggest a clear message to hit the ‘off’ button on your TV and abandon your sofa. Even activities of low energy expenditure, such as socialising with friends or housekeeping activities, may have a substantial benefit to your health compared to time spent sitting and watching TV.”

The study also found that watching more TV was associated with an increased risk of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Compared to those watching less than seven hours of TV per week, those watching more than 21 hours per week were 68 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 50 percent more likely to have diabetes.

Exercise while watching TV

“Since our results emphasise the clinical benefit of low energy expenditure activities, performing recreational activities, weight lifting, stretching bands or treadmill exercise while watching TV may be a healthy alternative,” Tsalamandris said.

Benefits of a high-energy breakfast

In the second part of the study, researchers found that those who ate a high-energy breakfast tended to have significantly healthier arteries than those who ate little or no breakfast.

Even after accounting for cardiovascular risk factors, both pulse wave velocity and arterial thickness were, on average, highest in those skipping breakfast and lowest in those eating a high-energy breakfast.

Specifically, arterial stiffness was abnormal in 15 percent of those skipping breakfast, 9,5 percent of those consuming a low-energy breakfast and 8,7 percent of those consuming a high-energy breakfast.

Similarly, more plaque was found in the carotid arteries of 28 percent of people skipping breakfast, 26 percent of those consuming a low-energy breakfast and 18 percent of those consuming a high-energy breakfast.

“A high-energy breakfast should be part of a healthy lifestyle,” Tsalamandris said. “Eating a breakfast constituting more than 20 percent of the total daily caloric intake may be of equal or even greater importance than a person’s specific dietary pattern, such as whether they follow the Mediterranean diet, a low-fat diet or other dietary pattern.

However, Tsalamandris also indicated that, because most study participants followed a Mediterranean diet overall, it is unknown how the study findings translate to people following different dietary patterns.

Since the research was observational, the study does not prove cause and effect, and the reason for the association between a high-energy breakfast and better heart health is not known. Based on previous studies, the researchers offered two possible explanations:

  • One is that people who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier food overall and have fewer unhealthy lifestyle patterns such as smoking and sedentary behaviour than those who skip breakfast.
  • Another is that the specific breakfast foods consumed in the high-energy group, such as dairy products, may benefit heart health.

Source: American College of Cardiology via www.sciencedaily.com

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.