A new study from the University of Iowa found strong associations between those who skipped breakfast and death from cardiovascular disease.  

Don’t have time for breakfast in the morning? You may want to reconsider. A new study from the University of Iowa suggests it should become a priority. An analysis of 6,550 individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III found those who skipped breakfast faced an 87 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and heart-related death.

The participants went through an in-house interview on their breakfast frequency during this survey, where they shared whether they consumed breakfast every day, sometimes, rarely, or never. There were no parameters for what “breakfast” needed to look like calorically or nutritionally. 59 percent of participants ate breakfast every day and 5.1 percent never did.

Out of the 6,550 individuals from the survey, there were 2,318 deaths over the 17-23 years of follow-up—619 from cardiovascular disease. Then the researchers adjusted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, diet and lifestyle behaviors, BMI, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes and hypertension. What they found were strong associations between breakfast habits and a chance of dying from stroke, heart disease, or cardiovascular disease.

However, Krista Varady, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago, told CNN it’s important to digest this study knowing those who skipped breakfast also likely had the most unhealthy lifestyle habits over all. They were probably more likely to smoke, drink heavily, be physically inactive, follow an unhealthy diet, and have a lower income than the other participants.

Interested in learning more about how to protect your heart?

The bottom line: Clearly eating a healthy breakfast is part of an overall healthy lifestyle, but there is more to it than simply tossing a pop tart down your gullet every day. If you aren't eating a healthy breakfast, it's probably time to start. But it is important to opt for a heart-healthy breakfast, low in saturated fat and added sugars, as well as adopt healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors outside of breakfast time if you are concerned about your heart or overall health.